Address By Mr Ng Wai Choong, Chief Executive, Energy Market Authority, At Energy Innovation 2016

03 Jun 2016

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

   A very good morning to all of you. Welcome to Energy Innovation 2016. This is the first time the different government agencies have come together to engage our energy stakeholders. This brings about synergies and a more holistic engagement. I would like to thank the National Research Foundation and the National Climate Change Secretariat, as well as the various participating agencies for making today’s event happen.

Catalysing Innovation for a Future-Ready Power System

2. Over the years, we have built a high quality energy system, with pervasive use of proven technologies to deliver safe and reliable power. However the energy sector is evolving at a quickening pace, driven by new technologies. We need to prepare ourselves for the changes and take advantage of the new trends.

3. Today, we will hear from two distinguished speakers on the advancement of power systems. Dr. Bryan Hannegan from the U.S.’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will speak on his international experience in future power systems, while Mr. Wong Kim Yin, Group CEO of Singapore Power, will share the imperative on investing in building manpower and energy R&D capabilities in Singapore’s power sector.

EMA is Facilitating Solar Growth

4. The adoption of solar PV systems in Singapore has increased almost 19-fold from 2010 to reach 70MWp today. EMA’s latest edition of the annual Singapore Energy Statistics 2016, which is launched today, shows how, in 2015 alone, an additional 26MWp of capacity was added across 305 newly installed systems.

5. EMA has been actively facilitating the growth of the solar sector. Enhancements made include: the launch of the Central Intermediary Payment scheme; the streamlining of metering requirements for larger solar PV installations; and the addition of a one-stop solar PV portal for consumers. These enhancements have reduced the regulatory barriers to solar deployment and catalysed innovative business models.

6. In November last year, a local company, Sunseap Group, aggregated more than 800 rooftop solar systems to fully power Apple’s operations in Singapore. This trend will grow as more companies incorporate sustainability measures into their business practices.

Growing our Solar Forecasting Capabilities

7. The evolving power sector brings about attendant challenges which we must address to keep the lights on. For example, output from solar energy can fluctuate due to weather conditions such as cloud cover. EMA is working with the Meteorological Service Singapore to bring together knowledge in weather science and grid modeling. This will help strengthen our solar forecasting capabilities, and enable us to better match demand-and-supply requirements. I am confident that there will be a very robust conversation around solar forecasting later during the session with Dr. Sue Haupt from the U.S.’s National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Energy Storage Strengthens our System’s Resilience

8. Another area that we are focusing our resources on is the safe deployment of energy storage systems. Heat and humidity degrade the performance of batteries. We need to understand how to minimize this impact and operate the batteries efficiently under our tropical conditions. We must also build the knowledge base to deploy these systems safely in an urbanised environment.

9. The industry and research community has responded to this challenge. As part of EMA’s competitive Energy Storage Grant Call, I am pleased to announce that six exciting projects worth a total of about S$15 million will be awarded today.

10. One project led by the National University of Singapore will look into the storage of natural gas in a solidified form. This would allow natural gas to be stored using less energy1, and could lead to improved stability and up to 50 percent reduction in storage costs when compared with compressed natural gas.

11. Another project, involving Nanyang Technological University and Durapower Technology, will involve the development of metal oxide-based batteries. These could have up to five times the cycle life and faster charging capabilities, as compared to existing lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries would also be better suited to operate under Singapore’s hot and humid climate.

12. Additionally, NTU, Panasonic, Sunseap and the Housing & Development Board will look into developing a Distributed Energy Storage System. The system would comprise distributed lithium-ion batteries controlled centrally, and be able to manage the impact of solar intermittency at the distribution level. It would also be able to offer services, such as frequency regulation, to the National Electricity Market of Singapore.

13. I would like to encourage the growth of more such innovative business models for energy storage. Ultimately, these innovations translate to more reliable and potentially cost-effective electricity supply to end-users.

14. EMA and Singapore Power also recently announced plans to implement a utility-scale energy storage system test-bed. This landmark partnership between the regulator and grid operator is a major step forward for Singapore, and reflects our common interests in strengthening the resilience of our power system. I would like to thank Kim Yin for his leadership in making this happen, and encourage the industry to respond to this call for proposals.

Safeguarding our Power System

15. Given the increasingly open nature of power systems and prevalence of distributed generation, cyber threats to our power system are very real. Last December, more than 200,000 people in Ukraine had their power disrupted due to a cyber-attack. We must stay vigilant, and work closely to exchange information and avert such incidents here.

16. My colleague, Mr. Lim Choon Sia from the Cyber Security Agency, will be elaborating on developments in the area of cyber security within the energy sector, and I am sure you will find his ideas instructive.

Nurturing Skilled Manpower to Support Innovation

17. These new developments and innovations in the energy sector mean that we need our people to deepen their skills and stay ahead of the curve through continuous learning. The power sector offers meaningful opportunities for people at different stages of their lives. Students and mid-career professionals will have opportunities to develop to their fullest potential. In April, Singapore Polytechnic welcomed its first intake for the Advanced Diploma in Power Engineering under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme. Separately, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme, has launched a Specialist Diploma in Electrical Design and Operation. This diploma gives new polytechnic graduates a head start in their career through a 12-month structured work-study programme.

18. In addition, EMA, with support from the Union of Power and Gas Employees and the industry, will be introducing the power sector SkillsFuture Study Awards. This will provide financial support for mid-career Singaporeans committed to developing and deepening their power engineering skills. In total, 30 Study Awards will be made available. We all have a role to play – be it power companies, individuals, institutions of higher learning, unions and government agencies. This will help our power sector workforce stay relevant in emerging areas such as smart grids, energy storage and cyber-risk mitigation.

Nurturing Young Power Engineers

19. Youths are co-creators of our future. To propel Singapore towards SG100, we must work together to engage them early. These youths will eventually form the core of our sector’s future workforce. EMA has thus organised the fourth Energy Connect session involving close to 400 youths from the universities, polytechnics and ITE. This morning, as we speak, some of these youths are taking part in an energy competition, which is the result of a fruitful multi-year collaboration with Sembcorp that also involves learning journeys and internships. This afternoon, experienced engineers from our power companies and a representative from NUS will also share with them their perspectives on preparing for a future career.

20. I welcome the opportunity to work with more power companies and institutions on our student outreach efforts. This will help us create a coordinated industry voice that reaches out to youths who are passionate about energy.


21. As a country, we must continue to embrace innovation and invest in long-term manpower capabilities. We will be focusing our resources from the Research, Innovation and Enterprise programme, or RIE2020, and the SkillsFuture initiative to galvanise research translation and deepen our workforce’s capabilities. Both innovation and capabilities development are critical cogs in our sector’s wheel to power Singapore’s economy.

22. I wish you a fruitful day ahead, filled with insightful sharings and meaningful discussions. Thank you.

1 Natural gas (NG) is usually stored in liquid form, i.e. as liquefied natural gas (LNG), at -162 degrees Celsius. Solidified natural gas (SNG), which is natural gas stored in the form of hydrates, allows natural gas to be stored at a higher temperature of -25 degrees Celsius. Hence, storage of SNG is less energy intensive as compared to LNG. This project is looking into developing storing SNG at an even higher temperature of -5 degrees Celsius, and with improved stability.

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