Laws proposed to set emissions standards for power generation companies in Singapore

The move will help to reduce emissions from this sector even as Singapore researches emerging low-carbon technologies.
The move will help to reduce emissions from this sector even as Singapore researches emerging low-carbon technologies.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore is considering setting green standards for power generation companies here, as part of the county's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

Under proposed changes to the Electricity Act, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) will be able to set greenhouse gas emissions standards or policies that will force power generation firms to use more energy-efficient technology, for instance.

As Singapore banks on natural gas - a fossil fuel - for more than 95 per cent of its energy needs, the move will help to reduce emissions from this sector even as the Republic researches emerging low-carbon technologies.

The latest move will add regulatory teeth to EMA's existing incentive schemes, such as the energy efficiency grant for power generation companies, to get power generation companies to improve the energy efficiency of their existing units, and shift towards cleaner and more efficient modes of power generation.

EMA and its parent ministry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on Friday (Aug 27) said they are seeking public feedback on a set of proposed amendments to three pieces of energy legislation.

The three laws are the Energy Market Authority of Singapore Act, Electricity Act and Gas Act.

The proposed changes are set out under the Energy (Resilience Measures and Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill and will enable EMA to implement Singapore's energy transition, while ensuring the sustainability, security, and reliability of the power sector, the two agencies added.

Other proposed changes include those that will enable EMA to acquire, build, own and/or operate critical infrastructure, and allow it to raise capital or issue bonds for infrastructure.

It will also be an offence for a person to damage protective infrastructure housing cables or pipelines, such as cable tunnels. This will enhance current regulatory powers which only penalise offenders who damage the actual cables or pipelines.

The Government's bid to set standards on emissions-intensive power generation companies here comes after the United Nations' climate science body earlier this month raised alarm bells about the fate of humanity if the world does not reach net-zero emissions by around 2050.

The burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of modern climate change.

As the blanket of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere thicken from the burning of fossil fuels and cutting down of forests, earth systems are thrown out of whack - resulting in changes not only to temperature but also sea levels, rainfall patterns and frequency of extreme weather events.

All of these have cascading impacts on human lives and livelihoods across the globe, and Singapore will not be spared its effects.

In the United States, the Biden administration has proposed a federal clean energy standard - a climate initiative that would increase the use of renewable energy across the country - that is still being mulled over by Congress.

The Singapore Government has said that as a land-scarce country, the Republic lacks land for large solar farms. And while sunshine is abundant in the tropics, Singapore lacks access to other forms of renewable energy.

It plans to decarbonise its energy sector in four ways.

This includes enhancing the efficiency of natural gas plants and boosting solar deployment by putting panels everywhere, including on water bodies.

Singapore also wants to import low-carbon electricity from the region; and do research into low-carbon solutions such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage solutions.