From 2033, Singapore will import 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon electricity – primarily generated by wind power – from Vietnam, which will help fulfil the Republic’s target of importing 4GW of renewable energy by 2035 via electricity imports. The imports from Vietnam could potentially constitute 10 per cent of Singapore’s annual needs, and will be transmitted through new subsea cables that will span a distance of around 1,000km, said the Energy Market Authority (EMA) on Tuesday.
This comes after similar deals were inked to import 2GW of low-carbon electricity from Indonesia, and 1GW of electricity from Cambodia – which is a mix of hydropower, solar and potentially wind power. In total, the imports will make up around 30 per cent of Singapore’s energy mix in 2035. Speaking at the Singapore International Energy Week held at Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said that EMA has given conditional approval to Sembcorp Utilities to work with its partner, Vietnam’s PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation, to import electricity.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the offshore wind farms in Vietnam could start producing electricity from 2033, said Sembcorp in a statement. At the same time, Singapore has completed the first phase of a study with the United States to examine the existing and potential power interconnections in Asean, and the socio-economic benefits of regional energy connectivity, added Dr Tan.
“The findings will highlight the benefits that energy interconnections will bring to the region. This includes emissions reduction, lower capital and production costs, greater resource adequacy and power supply resilience, as well as economic benefits through the creation of green jobs.” The US and Singapore are planning to embark on the second phase of the study, which will focus on governance and financing frameworks for implementing cross-border energy trading projects, said Dr Tan.
Both countries did not indicate when the second phase will commence. “We welcome more regional countries and multilateral partners to join us in this study,” Dr Tan added. Citing the Laos-Singapore hydropower project, which commenced in June 2022 and involved importing up to 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy via Thailand and Malaysia, Dr Tan pointed out that cross-border electricity trading across multiple countries can become a reality in South-east Asia.
“Since its commencement, about 270 gigawatt hours of electricity have been exported to Singapore from Laos. All four countries are now discussing how to enhance this project, including trading at capacities beyond 100MW and facilitating electricity flows in all directions,” he added.
“We hope these projects will support the development of our broader Asean Power Grid. Given the good progress of this initiative so far, we are now studying the possibility of taking in more electricity import projects, taking into account energy security and cost considerations,” said Dr Tan. Solar power will also be the dominant source in Singapore’s renewable energy imports, given its land scarcity, which poses a constraint in deploying the energy source on a larger scale, the minister said. Meanwhile, City Energy and Malaysia’s energy firm Gentari have signed an agreement to do a joint feasibility study on constructing a pipeline from Malaysia to Singapore for importing hydrogen. The study will be conducted over a period of 12 months, after which both parties will collectively decide on the next steps.
Singapore has a goal of achieving 2GW-peak of solar by 2030, which can generate enough energy to meet the annual electricity needs of around 350,000 households. Solar deployment here has already surpassed 1GW-peak, which would mean that Singapore is now “more than halfway” to reaching its target. “To get there, we are pursuing the next bound of innovative solar deployment,” said Dr Tan.
For instance, to maximise the surfaces on which solar can be deployed, HDB is testing the application of building applied photovoltaics, which are solar panels that are retrofitted or integrated onto the facade of housing blocks.
Studies looking at perovskite or tandem solar cells – which are said to have increased efficiency compared with conventional silicon ones – are also under way. Dr David Broadstock, a senior research fellow and lead of energy transition at the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute at the National University of Singapore, said there is a clear opportunity for Singapore to target more ambitious quantities of renewable electricity imports that exceed the existing 30 per cent goal. However, there are also some operational considerations that will need to be kept in view, such as the need for solar to be coupled with energy-storage technologies as solar is available only during the day.