Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng's Opening Remarks for the Singapore-IRENA High-Level Forum

26 Oct 2021

Director-General Francesco La Camera,

Deputy Director-General Gauri Singh,

Honourable Ministers,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good Afternoon. I am pleased to open the inaugural Singapore-International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) High-Level Forum, held in conjunction with the 14th Singapore International Energy Week. I would also like to offer my appreciation to all Ministers, representatives of international organisations and industry leaders who have accepted our invitation to be part of this inaugural Forum.

2. The theme for this Forum is “Investing in an Inclusive and Just Clean Energy Transition”. This comes at a timely moment for the region and the world. The rise in gas, coal and electricity prices in recent months have brought to the fore various challenges in navigating the energy transition. Today’s Forum presents a good opportunity for policymakers and industry leaders to come together to discuss how we can channel investments towards a timely energy transition.

3. There is an urgent need to mobilise investments to boost the energy transition. The IRENA’s 2021 World Energy Transitions Outlook (WETO) highlights that the world will need more than a two-fold increase in energy sector investments to support the global energy transition – from USD 1.8 trillion in 2019 to USD 4.4 trillion per year by 2050. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), investments in clean energy must triple by 2030 if we hope to effectively combat climate change. In addition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that Southeast Asia alone would require US$3.1 trillion of green infrastructure investments by 2030.

4. Singapore is doing our part to invest in the energy transition.

a. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s Green Finance Action Plan supports efforts to scale up finance to meet Asia’s low-carbon transition needs. Initiatives include schemes to support the mainstreaming of green and sustainable financing, the establishment of green finance centres of excellence, and “Project Greenprint” to harness technology and data to support the green finance ecosystem.

b. We are also working towards the development of carbon market initiatives in Singapore. One such initiative is Climate Impact X – a joint initiative by Temasek, DBS, SGX, and Standard Chartered Bank.

c. The Singapore Government has set aside S$55 million (equivalent to about US$40 million) for the Low-Carbon Energy Research (LCER) Funding Initiative (FI). This initiative supports Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) projects in low-carbon energy technologies such as hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) through 2025 to reduce Singapore’s carbon emissions.

5. While countries seek to accelerate the energy transition, we need to ensure that this transition is inclusive and just. This means we do not lose sight of creating good jobs for our people and equipping them to seize these opportunities, especially in the clean energy sector.

6. For Singapore, we currently rely on natural gas, the cleanest form of fossil fuel, for 95% of our power generation. Given our limited access to renewable energy, natural gas will continue to be an important energy source in the energy transition for Singapore, until alternative low-carbon generation technologies are commercially feasible.

7. Today, many of our workers in the energy sector have backgrounds in electrical and power engineering, and possess technical skillsets which are transferable from traditional power generation to renewable energy or low-carbon technology projects. This positions our workers well to take on new challenges in these sectors, as part of an inclusive energy transition where no worker is left behind. We will also continue to equip our workforce with the necessary skills to access good job opportunities through various manpower development initiatives. In particular, the industry-led centralised training institute for energy professionals, the Singapore Institute of Power and Gas, or SIPG, offers relevant courses to help workers upskill and reskill to meet the evolving demands of the sector.

8. Finally, it is crucial that we continue to harness technology as a key enabler in accelerating the clean energy transition. Technology advancements open up new possibilities, especially in terms of renewable energy potential.

9. In Singapore, recent developments in geothermal technology, such as advanced geothermal systems (AGS) which harness heat from deep dry rock, may allow Singapore to harness geothermal energy at greater depths, with minimal impact to environment and safety. With support from the National Research Foundation of Singapore, the Energy Market Authority of Singapore is working closely with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and various agencies to study and determine the geothermal resource potential in Singapore. NTU and the agencies aim to establish preliminary findings by end-2022. If deemed viable, Singapore could potentially adopt geothermal energy and further lower our power sector’s carbon emissions.

10. Advancements in technologies, coupled with the declining costs, have enabled policymakers and industry leaders to significantly advance the role of renewables in the global energy systems. According to the IRENA, in the past year alone, 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewables-based generation capacity had been added globally – four times more than the capacity added from other fossil fuel-based sources. Singapore is keen to accelerate the development and deployment of emerging low-carbon alternatives, such as hydrogen and CCUS to support the energy transition. I look forward to gathering more insights on these issues from participants at today’s Forum.

11. Director-General La Camera, Deputy Director-General Singh, Honourable Ministers and Excellencies, today’s Forum is a step in the right direction towards ”An Inclusive and Just Clean Energy Transition”. In particular, we are appreciative of IRENA’s strong support in ASEAN’s energy transition and many capacity building initiatives under the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation or APAEC. Over the last few years, ASEAN and IRENA have deepened energy cooperation significantly since the signing of the ASEAN-IRENA Memorandum of Understanding in 2018 in Singapore.

12. Building on the success of this inaugural Singapore-IRENA High-Level Forum, I am pleased to note that both Singapore and IRENA will work towards (i) hosting the second edition of the Singapore-IRENA High-Level Forum at SIEW next year, and (ii) convening a special edition of the IRENA Investment Forum in Singapore, likely in 2023. Through these platforms, we aim to foster more robust high-level discussions towards strengthening access to renewable energy finance and low-carbon solutions across Asia.

13. I am confident that today’s Forum will provide excellent thought leadership on the clean energy transition, and also contribute to the upcoming COP26 Conference in Glasgow. With that, may I now invite Director-General La Camera to give his opening remarks.

14. Director-General La Camera, please.

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