Address By Dr Tan Wu Meng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Foreign Affairs, At Energy Innovation 2018
20 Sep 2018
Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chairman, Shell Companies in Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning. Very happy to join you for this year's Energy Innovation or “EI 2018”. First, let me thank EMA and NUS for putting this conference together. It is an opportunity for all of us to learn from one another.
Survival and Strategy: Strengthening Singapore's Energy Resilience
2. Many of you will know Singapore's water story. To reduce our reliance on imported water, we converted two-thirds of our land into water catchment. Over the years, beyond water catchment and imported water, we grew from Two to Four National Taps.But the newest National Taps, our NEWater and our desalination plants, need large amounts of energy to operate.
3. Just as water security maintains Singapore's survival, we also have to keep an eye on energy security. Very recently, we felt the importance of energy security and energy resilience in a very real way when electricity supply was disrupted to many Singaporean homes in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I was up late that night, after meeting some of my residents. I saw the social media updates coming in around half past 1- that was a few minutes after the blackout occurred. I also saw the many emails and WhatsApps from the EMA team, which were working very hard throughout the night, responding, looking into what happened.
4. In the investigations, EMA found that the blackout was due to two power generating units tripping. Fortunately, through the efforts of EMA and industry, we were able to safely and progressively get the power back on within 38 minutes.
5. This incident is also a reminder that we must continue strengthening our energy resilience. EMA is continuing its investigations. Whatever the findings, we will learn, and we will improve. It is timely that we discuss the different ways we can enhance our energy security and these happen to be themes at today's conference: how we can better make use of renewable energy, and how we can where possible, reduce energy demand.
Maximising Renewables Integration and Reducing Energy Demand, While Maintaining System Resilience
6. So let's talk a bit about how we maximise the integration of renewable energy. Solar photovoltaics, is Singapore's most promising renewable option. As an old song goes, we are a sunny island, set in the sea. 50% more sun than temperate countries. But we also know that in Singapore, the sun doesn't shine all the time. The sun comes and goes. Power from solar PV is intermittent and changes with the weather. Our national grid must cater for such changes to keep our electricity supply reliable.
7. So, EMA has built Singapore's first micro-grid living lab at Pulau Ubin. It studies the real world impact of solar PV deployment on system and grid stability and reliability as well. EMA will use these insights for future grid designs and the main grid to ensure resiliency.
8. We also have very limited land to deploy solar PV. We are not like other countries that have thousands and thousands square kilometres of land, and can put solar panels there. We do not have that. So, we are looking at new and creative ways to deploy solar panels. You have heard about what we are doing on reservoirs- putting solar panels, floating on the water; on temporarily vacant land; or even on buildings' facades- the sides of buildings because as the energy capture efficiency goes up, you can get meaningful solar PV output even with panels at the side of the buildings.
9. So we need to reduce our energy demand, and be more energy efficient. And so this brings me to the second theme for EI 2018.
10. If we look at technology, digital technology has also brought us many new tools. Data analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchains. These are not just buzzwords. They are tools to help us better understand operations with analytics, customers through technology like AI, and suppliers through technology like blockchain. Tools that will help us understand systems better and optimise energy demand.
11. Our local enterprises and universities are all part of this journey. Some already use digital technologies to improve energy efficiency. For example, Yokogawa and Tuas Power have deployed digital solutions at Tuas' plant - improving productivity. NTU and SUTD have also built smart grid systems to manage energy demand and supply- matching it better, planning it better.
Inaugural Joint R&D Grant Call for Local SMEs to Develop Energy Solutions
12. To encourage further efforts and to encourage that kind of research and development, we are launching a joint R&D grant call by EMA and Enterprise Singapore. SMEs can tap on this to develop solutions in deploying solar energy and to optimise energy consumption. This new collaboration will help our SMEs build up capabilities, intellectual property, and support their ability to grow and ability to go international as well. EMA will release more details shortly.
Award of the Energy Resilience Grant Call
13. We also need to ensure our power system continues to be resilient, even as we maximise renewable energy and reduce energy demand. Today, I am also pleased to announce that EMA is awarding S$15millon to 7 consortiums, under the Energy Resilience Grant Call, to fund innovative technologies to strengthen our national grid.
Building capabilities for Power Engineering Professionals in the Public Service
14. But as all of you know, whether in academia, whether in industry, technology alone is not going to write the future. The energy story is very much about our people. Our people who keep Singapore's energy sector going today, our people who work hard especially when times are challenging when there is a disruption, our people who help improve our grid, our systems, both in the public and private sector.
15. So beyond technology, we also need a strong core of power sector professionals. Over the years, EMA has worked with various stakeholders to upskill our private sector power professionals.
16. But we know the demand for power professionals is increasing. It is also increasing in the public sector. New MRT lines, new HDB towns – all these will need many more power engineering professionals in the public sector.
17. Given this, EMA will be expanding their manpower development efforts to support professionals in the Public Service known as the Power Engineering Professionals in the Public Service or PEPS.
18. To kick-start EMA's effort, I will be engaging a group of PEPS in a dialogue session later, to better understand the issues faced by the community. Because when we listen and learn from each other, that's how we make things better.
19. As an immediate step, I am also pleased to announce that the Government will extend the SkillsFuture Earn-and-Learn Programme (or “ELP”) to the Polytechnic and ITE graduates pursuing Power Engineering-related roles in the Public Service for the first time. This means eligible participants can receive an incentive of $5,000.
20. More importantly, the expansion of this programme to the Public Service sends a very strong signal that the Government is committed to preparing our power engineering professionals for the changes ahead. This is the first of many new programmes which the PEPS community can expect.
21. In closing, access to affordable, secure, and sustainable energy is vital to Singapore. The plans announced today will help us meet this challenge. But we can't do it alone, none of us can do it alone. We need you, because you are part of this journey too. I encourage all of you, wherever you are in your journey to keep on thinking about how you can use these plans, these initiatives, to keep on imagining how you can lead the power sector in Singapore, into the next stage of our journey.
22. I wish you a bright and energy-filled day ahead. Thank you.
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