Renewable energy source in Malaysia preferred in trial: EMA

Singapore hopes to tap regional energy grids to supplement the nation's access to renewable energy sources.
Singapore hopes to tap regional energy grids to supplement the nation's access to renewable energy sources.PHOTO: AFP

A renewable energy source in Malaysia will be the preferred choice for Singapore under the upcoming electricity import trial, said the Energy Market Autho-rity (EMA).

"EMA prefers to import electricity from renewable energy sources," the agency said yesterday. "Potential importers will need to specify the sources of their supply, which will be one of the factors that EMA will consider in evaluating the proposals."

They will also have to demonstrate their supply reliability, credibility and track record, and whether they can secure demand from Singapore consumers, it added.

One importer will be appointed through the selection process.

EMA's comments come after Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced yesterday that Singapore will be importing 100MW of electricity from Malaysia over a trial period of two years.

The amount will make up about 1.5 per cent of Singapore's peak electricity demand.

The EMA, an agency under Mr Chan's ministry, plans to issue a request for proposals by March next year for 100MW of electricity imports. The imports could begin as early as the end of next year, via the existing electricity interconnector between the two countries, EMA said.

The Singapore-Malaysia electrical network interconnection is an undersea cable that is used to transmit electricity across the two countries.

It is now primarily used for mutual support between both countries' power systems, said a spokesman for EMA, adding that the interconnection is being upgraded and will be used to facilitate the trial for electricity imports.

The appointed importer is expected to sell electricity via the Singapore wholesale electricity market to interested buyers.

After the two-year trial, plans for further imports will be considered.

Dr Thomas Reindl, deputy chief executive of the National University of Singapore's Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, said that electricity imports are a necessary consideration for Singapore if it wants to incorporate more renewable energy in its fuel mix.

Currently, more than 95 per cent of Singapore's energy comes from natural gas - the cleanest form of fossil fuel, but a fossil fuel none-theless. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change.

"If you want to get a much higher (proportion of renewables) than what we can generate on our own available land, then we definitely have to talk about imports," Dr Reindl told The Straits Times.

"And, of course, the immediate neighbours are the best solutions to start with - with Malaysia, but also possibly some of the Riau Islands in Indonesia... It also works from areas farther up into Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indochina, which have ample resources of hydropower. So, there is plenty of opportunity."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2020, with the headline 'Renewable energy source in Malaysia preferred in trial: EMA'. Subscribe