S’pore seeks proposals for power generation and bunkering facility using fuel with low or no carbon

The green hydrogen plant at Cepsa Energy Park in San Roque, Spain. Hydrogen can be used as low-carbon fuel or feedstock. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Republic is inviting companies keen to build, own and operate a small low-carbon or zero-carbon power generation and bunkering facility on Jurong Island to step forward and submit their proposals. 

According to a joint statement by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Monday, the proposals are to be submitted under an expression of interest (EOI) by April 30, 2023.

The statement said that “low- or zero-carbon hydrogen has the potential to support Singapore’s decarbonisation efforts” and help the Republic achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. “The EOI will enable us to explore the use of low- or zero-carbon fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia for power generation, alongside other low-carbon alternatives such as electricity imports and domestic renewable energy sources.”

The aim is to develop a facility capable of generating a minimum of 50MW of electricity from imported low- or zero-carbon ammonia for an operational period of up to 25 years, and to support ammonia bunkering, according to the joint statement.

Industry experts say hydrogen can be used as low-carbon fuel or feedstock, releasing little to no greenhouse gas when burned. It could also have close to zero emissions when produced through the electrolysis of water using renewable energy.

In October, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) that low-carbon hydrogen is now seen as an increasingly promising solution to enable the Republic to hit its zero-emission targets. While he cautioned that technology and supply chains for low-carbon hydrogen were still nascent, he noted that global investment in low-carbon technologies had risen exponentially in recent years, and countries around the world were accelerating its production and usage.

During his energy lecture at SIEW, Mr Wong also announced that $129 million would be set aside for phase two of the Low-Carbon Energy Research Programme, which will help unlock key technological bottlenecks to enable Singapore to import, handle and utilise low-carbon hydrogen safely and at scale. This funding was in addition to the $55 million awarded as at October.

The joint statement noted that beyond the power and maritime sectors, low- or zero-carbon hydrogen and ammonia are also promising decarbonisation pathways for Singapore’s energy, chemical and aviation sectors. 

EMA’s CEO Ngiam Shih Chun said: “Hydrogen and ammonia have the potential to be a needle-moving decarbonisation solution for the power sector. Through this expression of interest, EMA is keen to collaborate with interested industry partners to explore what could possibly happen.”

MPA’s CEO Teo Eng Dih said: “Close collaboration between the public and private sector is critical to accelerate decarbonisation in the maritime industry. MPA hopes to partner those who are committed to building up the global supply chain for low- or zero-carbon fuels, including ammonia, with Singapore as a key bunkering hub.” 

Due to its low energy density, hydrogen gas needs to be liquefied, compressed or converted into a hydrogen carrier for transport and storage. Ammonia is currently one of the most technologically ready hydrogen carriers, with an established international supply chain for industrial use. 

The EOI will enable Singapore to assess the viability of projects involving such low-carbon fuels and support the development of safety standards and regulations.

Dr David Broadstock, a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute, said the EOI was a demonstration of Singapore’s commitment to securing a first-mover advantage in the use of hydrogen as a fuel source for power generation and marine refuelling.

He also highlighted that the EOI document reflected a willingness on the part of the Government to collaborate with commercial entities and give them the necessary support to develop the project.

“I think this is really important because it is not something you typically see – there are many concessions the Government here appears willing to make in order to unlock support from commercial entities in the development of this project,” he said.

Mr Ankit Sachan, lead hydrogen analyst at S&P Global Commodity Insights, said that ammonia and hydrogen-fired gas turbine technology is in nascent stages and under development, and in the short term, is likely to be more expensive than standard natural gas-fired power facilities. 

“Renewable power production in Singapore is limited, and by extension its ability to produce green hydrogen and ammonia, which means most of the required hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives to meet decarbonisation targets will need to be imported,” said Mr Sachan.

He noted that Singapore is uniquely placed to integrate hydrogen and ammonia into the electricity generation mix.

“Singapore’s ability to meet its clean energy use and decarbonisation strategies will be dependent on the success of hydrogen and ammonia production growth in Australia and other neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the decline in hydrogen transportation costs.”

He added that the initial use of ammonia in power generation will also help Singapore develop the ammonia supply chains and storage infrastructure that could be then leveraged to support the future marine bunkering needs. 

He said: “Given that Singapore is a key transshipment port and shipping hub, supplying approximately 20 per cent of the marine bunker fuel to worldwide shipping fleets, the availability of ammonia in Singapore will be critical for global shipping decarbonisation.” 

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