Renewable energy

Look for import sources closer to home

There were two encouraging reports recently on importing renewable energy into Singapore.

The first was about the trial import of hydropower from Laos (S'pore to trial import of renewable hydropower from Laos, Sept 15). The second was about Australia's Sun Cable exporting solar power to Singapore (Aussie plan to supply power to S'pore clears key step, Sept 25).

While the Laos project is relatively smaller in scale at 0.1GW of renewable hydropower, the Australian one can be substantial at up to 20 gigawatt-peak (GWp), or supplying up to 15 per cent of Singapore's electricity needs.

From a climate perspective, Singapore should plan and target to import renewable energy at scale, preferably from its neighbours.

Unfortunately, Asean as a region is not energetic in investing in renewable energy. It has a target of increasing the component of renewable energy to 23 per cent by 2025.

In contrast, the International Renewable Energy Agency, in its Global Renewables Outlook 2020, projects that to be on the path needed to keep the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 deg C, the South-east Asia region should target for 41 per cent of its primary energy supply to come from renewable energy by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050.

Should Singapore be sourcing outside the Asean region for renewable energy imports?

From a layman's point of view, the Sun Cable project makes poor sense. The ocean route for its power cable from Australia to Singapore is a long and arduous one: 4,200km, not to mention routing it through an earthquake-prone region.

I am unaware of any other publicly known renewable energy import projects in the works, and I believe The Straits Times should play a role in initiating discussion on this matter. For example, why not consider Vietnam, which has been touted by experts as a top market for wind and renewable energy investment in Asia? It is a great deal nearer to us than Australia.

Seah Ah Kuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2021, with the headline 'Look for import sources closer to home'. Subscribe