Countries should be open to green technologies including nuclear: Grace Fu

A nuclear power plant near Leibstadt, Switzerland, on April 20, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Countries should be willing to trial green technologies, including nuclear technology, as long as the decision is informed by science, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Thursday (May 5).

Speaking at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, Ms Fu said: "I would like to urge... all of us to keep an open mind, because technologies such as nuclear may be a safer option - maybe not immediately, but it is possible. So I think we should always be informed by science and take what is the most pragmatic way (forward)."

The symposium brings together leaders from business, politics, and science for cross-generational dialogue and collaboration.

Nuclear energy - which was once deemed unsuitable for Singapore - was identified as a potential power source for the country by 2050 due to advancements in nuclear technology, according to a report by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) published in March.

These include small modular reactors, which can be built quickly and placed in locations unsuitable for larger nuclear plants, and fusion reactors, which generate power by harnessing heat from fusion reaction - the same type of reaction that powers the sun and other stars.

The EMA-commissioned report had concluded that it was realistic for Singapore's power sector, which currently accounts for 40 per cent of the country's total emissions, to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The report set out various scenarios for achieving this goal.

In a geopolitically fragmented world, about 10 per cent of Singapore's energy could come from nuclear sources, the report said.

This is because a fragmented world would make it tougher for countries to work together to achieve their climate targets; it would also reduce Singapore's ability to import renewable energy.

Emphasising the importance of taking a "pragmatic approach", Ms Fu added that Singapore will have to take whatever technology is available.

"I think it's important for us, from Singapore's point of view, to look at a transition rather than an absolute position. The invasion of Ukraine has made it really clear how interconnected we are and how the disruption in energy supply can change the livelihoods of (people in) many countries in a very fundamental way."

Gas prices have been rising due to the energy crunch following the war in Ukraine.

People should also keep an open mind regarding hydrogen, as things are evolving very quickly, said Ms Fu.

"We see a huge momentum of tech investments by countries and by companies. I am very optimistic that we will have more options ahead of us - better options in terms of security and better mobility options," she added.

Hydrogen can be considered a clean fuel if it is produced using electricity generated from renewable sources. But more research is needed before it can be produced at scale, as it is still challenging to generate and store hydrogen.

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