Forum: Singapore needs to further diversify its energy sources

The current gas supply crunch happening worldwide has unfortunately laid bare Singapore's vulnerability to energy price shocks (Consumers face surge in power bills, Oct 17).

Natural gas, whether the piped natural gas from our neighbours or from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported through the nation's LNG terminal, forms 95 per cent of our power generation needs.

The recent gas price hikes have shown that this huge dependency on natural gas has its risks.

The terminal conceptually enabled us to be less dependent on the piped natural gas supply from our neighbours for power generation, but it remains the only one differentiated energy supply source.

Thankfully, there are other options Singapore can explore to prevent further dependency on a single energy source.

Singapore should consider exploring propane and butane as power generation fuel.

The advantages of these are many. One, there are relatively ample supplies of propane and butane as they are oil refinery products.

Liquefied natural gas investments have slowed considerably as users baulk at purchasing gases at these prices.

Two, in a natural gas shortage such as the one we are seeing, these alternative gases are conspicuously cheaper. This does not mean that Singapore should move away from its natural gas strategy - propane and butane simply provide an appealing alternative during a shock such as the one we are seeing.

Three, propane and butane are in the same basket as natural gas when it comes to environmental effects. Like natural gas, they are far less pollutive compared with coal and liquid fuels.

Fourth, the technology required is extremely mature and our existing generators could be modified for fuel substitution, which would make it relatively easy to "plug and play" into our current energy systems with minor changes and minimal cost.

I hope the Government will consider this alternative so that Singapore continues to enjoy affordable energy required for our daily living.

Tan Yee Kiat