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Charge electricity based on period used, explore ways for consumers to store energy, expert committee recommends

SINGAPORE — To encourage consumers to look more closely at their electricity usage, a committee that has been set up to recommend strategies for Singapore to achieve net-zero carbon emission in its power sector by 2050, has suggested moving away from fixed pricing contracts. 

Charge electricity based on period used, explore ways for consumers to store energy, expert committee recommends
One scenario that could play out in Singapore in the next few decades is that there would be increased electrical demand as the country further digitalises and industries adopt decarbonisation pathways that require more energy.
  • A committee commissioned by the Energy Market Authority has made suggestions for Singapore's power sector
  • The target is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Some suggestions include introducing time-of-use pricing for energy and allowing consumers to store energy for future use
  • The report also highlighted trends and transformations in the energy landscape
  • It crafted three possible scenarios that could happen in the power sector's net-zero emissions future here

SINGAPORE — To encourage consumers to look more closely at their electricity usage, a committee that has been set up to recommend strategies for Singapore to achieve net-zero carbon emission in its power sector by 2050, has suggested moving away from fixed pricing contracts. 

They are recommending that end-users be charged for peak and off-peak usage instead. Such plans are now offered only by two energy providers.

Mr Choi Shing Kwok, chairman of the Energy 2050 Committee, said that demand for energy is highest in the middle of the day when it is warmer and businesses are operating.

The move to time-based pricing plans would help spread the demand across the day and lessen the pressure on Singapore's power infrastructure.

"Such changes in consumption pattern will also help to alleviate system-wide demand peaks and postpone costly system upgrades," Mr Choi said.

He also added that Singapore should explore adopting energy storage systems, allowing people to store energy when the price is low for future use. 

These are just some of the suggestions proposed by the Energy 2050 committee in its report released on Tuesday (March 22).

The 58-page report details changes in the energy landscape, current and future energy trends, and the challenges that Singapore may face, as well as other suggestions.

The committee also crafted three scenarios of the country's power sector achieving a net-zero future in the report, which may become reality depending on future trends and transformations.

Comprising nine experts from the public and private sectors, the committee was commissioned by the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

Mr Choi, who is also the director and chief executive officer of Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said that although the Government has to lead energy transformation efforts, all other sectors and Singaporeans need to play their part.

"We are optimistic that this can happen, and Singapore can arrive in 2050 with a brighter and greener future.”

LIKELY TRENDS AND UNCERTAINTIES 

In the report, the committee detailed three trends that Singapore is "pre-determined" to experience in its journey to 2050. They are:

  1. Increased electrical demand as the country further digitalises and industries adopt decarbonisation pathways that require more energy
  2. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will become cheaper and more efficient alongside battery storage
  3. A need to make Singapore's power grid more efficient in managing demand and supply of electricity as demand from technologies — such as electric vehicles — and supply from energy sources increase

However, there will be three "critical uncertainties", which will determine how Singapore's net-zero emissions future pans out:

  1. The advancement speed of low-carbon energy technologies such as hydrogen, geothermal and nuclear technologies will depend on research and development (R&D), scale of use in large countries and global carbon price
  2. The pace of advancements will also be contingent on infrastructure such as communication infrastructure, sensors and advanced computing processors
  3. Global collective action is also uncertain because countries may have other national interests that are not aligned with the push for decarbonisation

3 POSSIBLE SCENARIOS

In the first scenario, the world rallies together in the fight against climate change, and energy and digital technologies develop rapidly.

This will allow Singapore to decarbonise "smoothly" and diversity its supply of energy.

The second scenario plays out a similar united front among world countries, but technologies lag in their advancement. 

In this scenario, Singapore's main source of energy will be imports while it waits for low carbon technologies to mature.

The last scenario sees technology advance rapidly, but countries are fragmented in their action against climate change. 

The committee sees Singapore taking more proactive action by making advancements in new technology to decarbonise, and more than half of the country's energy being supplied by hydrogen — which is a low-carbon alternative to natural gas.

Electricity imports will take a back seat, with the committee estimating it to contribute about 25 per cent of energy.

PROPOSALS ON REACHING NET-ZERO EMISSIONS

To meet the expected increased energy demand while relying on a variety of alternative and low-carbon energy resources, the committee has suggested nine strategies that Singapore can adopt.

Aside from managing the increase in demand for energy and how people consume energy through "time-of-use" price signals, it also called for Singapore to diversify its energy supply.

This will involve importing electricity from a variety of countries and companies — though this may increase energy costs.

And for long-term sustainability, Singapore should import renewable energy from verified resources such as wind, large-scale solar and hydropower, which are abundant in other countries.

The committee also called for Singapore to develop its ability to increase usage of low-carbon hydrogen to generate power here, by investing in infrastructure and R&D, and exploring a regulatory framework that would attract institutions to sell hydrogen.

It also made other suggestions, such as improving the country's energy grid system, leveraging carbon markets and maximising solar deployment over the island.

Despite concluding that it will be realistic for the power sector to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050, the committee acknowledged that there will be "inevitable tradeoffs".

These include costs, which will come from increased infrastructure investments to sustain the range of renewable and low-carbon energy sources used.

EMA said that it will further study the recommendations in the committee’s report and announce new developments when ready.

Related topics

electricity clean energy solar energy carbon emissions Energy Market Authority

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