New pact to develop system to capture and use CO2

Singapore's campaign to squeeze value out of waste substances has taken another step forward with the signing of a deal that will foster efforts to build a low-carbon economy.

The agreement inked yesterday between four companies here aims to develop a carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration (CCUS) system.

These systems essentially work by sucking planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air so they can be stored underground or used to create other products, such as concrete or fuel.

Professor Low Teck Seng, chief executive of the National Research Foundation (NRF), said investing in low-carbon research and development to drive costeffective solutions is crucial for Singapore to develop a lowemission economy.

"While Singapore, like the world, is still dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs, technologies that enable efficient CCUS would help mitigate our emissions greatly," he added. "CCUS also presents opportunities for converting carbon dioxide into novel chemicals, materials and fuels, offering potential in growing new industries."

The agreement involves Keppel Data Centres, Chevron, Pan-United and Surbana Jurong jointly developing "mature carbon capture technologies, coupled with novel technologies that utilise cryogens, membranes and hydrogen".

The firms will also collaborate with other research partners, including universities and international organisations, to advance the development of CCUS technologies, the NRF and the companies said in a joint statement.

When commercially viable, CCUS technologies are expected to help Singapore achieve its climate goals of halving emissions by 2050 from its 2030 peak and achieving net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century.

These technologies have been the subject of growing research interest worldwide as a way of combating climate change.

While scientists and activists are urging governments to do more to reduce emissions, more attention is being paid to accelerate the development of CCUS as a way to prevent greenhouse gases from accumulating in the atmosphere like an ever-thickening blanket.

There are only two large-scale CCUS power projects in operation, noted the International Energy Agency website, although more are in the pipeline.

Although she agrees that the CCUS can help Singapore achieve its climate ambitions, environmental studies graduate Woo Qiyun said that a wider transformation of Singapore's economy is needed, to make it greener and more resilient.

"Efforts should also be going towards protecting nature, green spaces, as well as reducing our general energy consumption," Ms Woo, 22, added.

A Singapore Climate Rally spokesman also added that while the CCUS was a necessary step towards curbing global warming, "this technology cannot be a replacement for decarbonisation".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2020, with the headline 'New pact to develop system to capture and use CO2'. Print Edition | Subscribe