Singapore’s electricity demand fell 2 to 4% in 2020 due to Covid-19

SINGAPORE’S electricity demand is expected to have declined by 2 to 4 per cent in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said in Parliament on Tuesday.

However, electricity demand is expected to rebound as the economy recovers and grows and is driven by new users such as data centres, 5G telecommunication networks, agri-tech facilities and electric vehicles, said Dr Tan.

He said Singapore will continue to harness its “four switches” of energy, namely natural gas, solar energy, regional power grids and emerging low-carbon alternatives.

Asked by Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat if Singapore is participating in Sun Cable’s A$22 billion (S$20.3 billion) project to supply the Republic with solar power from northern Australia, Dr Tan said discussions on the proposal are ongoing.

“While we welcome these interests, we have to pace these imports to ensure that they do not undermine the reliability of our electricity supply and the stability of our electricity market,” said Dr Tan.

He added that the Energy Market Authority is unable to share details at this point, given the commercial sensitivities.

Currently, natural gas accounts for 95 per cent of the electricity produced in Singapore and is expected to continue to be the main source of energy in the medium term even as the other three switches are being developed, he said.

By 2030, solar energy – Singapore’s second switch – is expected to supply around 3 per cent of the country’s total electricity consumption, he said. This comes when Singapore quadruples its solar capacity to 1.5 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2025 and to 2 GWp by 2030.

He noted that local companies, such as Sunseap Group, partner the government in the deployment of solar photovoltaic systems.

“When these companies invest in overseas renewable companies and projects, they can bring valuable insights and capabilities back to Singapore. These projects may some day export electricity to Singapore too,” Dr Tan said.

The third switch comes from regional power grids, and Singapore recently announced a trial to import 100 megawatts from Malaysia.

The fourth switch comes from emerging low-carbon technologies, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Dr Tan said the government will facilitate the development of these technologies, including through a Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative.

“This funding initiative will see around S$50 million being used to explore areas such as the supply, storage and downstream uses of hydrogen, as well as carbon capture and storage for use in building materials or fuels,” he said.

Tapping on all four switches will allow Singapore to diversify its energy sources, he added.

“This will enhance our access to secure and competitively priced energy supplies, which will reduce our energy security risks,” he said.