From blackouts to a bright future

It takes only a flick of a switch to turn the lights on in your home, but power is a luxury Singaporeans did not always have. Even now, electricity must first flow through a network that involves over 27,000km of cables, large amounts of seawater, robotic inspection vehicles and gas that burns at over 1,000 deg C. Timothy Goh looks at how Singapore's power network was built from scratch and how energy arrives at your doorstep.

A mobile collection unit from the then Public Utilities Board collecting payment from rural customers in the 1960s for the use of electricity. The PUB's rural electrification programme in the 1960s and 1970s aimed to connect every kampung in Singapor
A mobile collection unit from the then Public Utilities Board collecting payment from rural customers in the 1960s for the use of electricity. The PUB's rural electrification programme in the 1960s and 1970s aimed to connect every kampung in Singapore to the main electricity grid. PHOTO: ENERGY MARKET AUTHORITY
A mobile collection unit from the then Public Utilities Board collecting payment from rural customers in the 1960s for the use of electricity. The PUB's rural electrification programme in the 1960s and 1970s aimed to connect every kampung in Singapor
MR CHOW FUTT YEOW, a consultant in the electrical industry, on how Singapore’s power system has improved.PHOTO: ENERGY MARKET AUTHORITY

Back in the day, coconut trees were one of the main culprits behind blackouts in rural Singapore.

"When it rained, the leaves would fall on the electrical wires and disrupt supply," Mr Chow Futt Yeow told The Straits Times.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2019, with the headline 'From blackouts to a bright future'. Print Edition | Subscribe