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HomesingaporeNo decision on use of nuclear energy yet, Singapore to keep options...

No decision on use of nuclear energy yet, Singapore to keep options open

SINGAPORE: Singapore has not made any decision to deploy nuclear energy yet but must keep its options open and build expertise in the area, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said on Monday (Oct 23) during the Singapore International Energy Week. 

Mr Gan said on the first day of the annual event that Singapore was exploring low-carbon energy sources, including hydrogen and nuclear energy. 

The use of nuclear energy was one of three possible scenarios previously set out by Singapore in its Energy 2050 Committee Report released last year. The report identified nuclear energy as a potential power source to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with this form of energy potentially able to supply about 10 per cent of the country’s needs. 

However, Mr Gan stressed that Singapore had yet to make a decision about nuclear energy. Instead, Singapore has been growing its capabilities in nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and response.  

Singapore conducted a pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy more than 10 years ago which concluded that technologies available then were not suitable for deployment in Singapore, the minister said.

“But we need to build capabilities to understand advanced nuclear energy technologies that are becoming safer and have the potential to be cost competitive, this way we can study the options seriously when these newer technologies become viable.”

DEEPENING COLLABORATION WITH OTHER COUNTRIES

He noted growing interest in nuclear energy from other countries in the region. 

To better equip itself, Singapore has been engaging international organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and worked with neighbouring countries to “facilitate information-sharing” and “collectively build up the region’s capabilities”. 

The government is also studying advanced nuclear technologies and their suitability for Singapore. One example is small modular reactors, which Mr Gan said showed promise in being safer than conventional large-scale reactors.

Small modular reactors are designed to cool safely and passively without requiring external systems or operator actions during emergencies, Mr Gan added. 

“We will deepen our collaboration with countries that have capabilities in small modular reactor technology to strengthen our understanding of these technologies.”

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ALTERNATIVE LOW-CARBON ENERGY

Apart from nuclear energy, Singapore has reached another milestone in an alternative form of low-carbon energy, hydrogen, with the launch of the next stage of selection of low or zero-carbon ammonia power generation and bunkering project developer. 

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore have shortlisted six consortiums whose proposals will be further developed in a closed Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide a low or zero-carbon ammonia solution for power generation and bunkering on Jurong Island.

The Request for Proposal follows the Expression of Interest that spanned December last year to end-April this year, where a total of 26 proposals from local and foreign companies were received. Six proposals were shortlisted based on technical, land optimisation, safety, and commercial aspects for a closed Request for Proposal. 

Last year, Singapore announced its National Hydrogen Strategy, which aims to experiment with the use of advanced hydrogen technologies that are on the cusp of commercial readiness.

Among hydrogen carriers, ammonia is more technologically ready, with an established international supply chain, Mr Gan noted.

Based on the Request for Proposal, the government will identify a lead developer to jointly develop the project, which will be one of the first commercial projects in the world to test and deploy the use of ammonia as a fuel. 

Jointly, the lead developer and the authorities will develop an end-to-end ammonia solution which comprises generating 55 to 65 megawatts of electricity from imported low or zero-carbon ammonia via direct combustion in a gas turbine or combined cycle gas turbine; and facilitating ammonia bunkering at a capacity of at least 0.1 million tons per annum, starting with shore-to-ship bunkering followed by ship-to-ship bunkering. 

The Request for Proposal will be launched before the end of this year. 

POTENTIAL COST FOR CLEANER ENERGY

EMA chief executive Ngiam Shih Chun noted that with all new technologies, there is a cost curve.

“Costs are high at the beginning but technological developments take place, and costs come down. We saw that for solar energy. And today, solar energy is one of the most cost-effective ways of producing renewable energy,” he said.

“My view is that that will probably be the cost curve as well for other renewable energy technologies.”

However, consumers have to accept that cost might have to go up for cleaner energy, he said.

“That’s one of the key things – we have to price in externalities for carbon,” he said adding that carbon tax is one of the measures that can be put in place.

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