Power sector in 2030
Singapore has focused on phasing out petroleum products from its electricity supply by switching to natural gas, which as of 2019 accounts for 95% of its electricity generation as opposed to 2% for renewable energy. Paris Agreement compatible pathways require renewables to ramp-up 10-16% by 2030 (a five-fold factor). Such a transformation would require Singapore to revise its current gas-centric policy, and bring forward and accelerate future plans for solar, connecting to regional grids and importing green hydrogen to diversify and decarbonise its power mix.
Singapore is constrained by the availability of space, but renewable energy imports could be an option to decarbonise its power system. There are various renewable energy projects (including solar, and green hydrogen) being developed within the region, that could be explored to support Singapore’s import plans, for example, Australia plans to build a 3 GW solar farm and a 4500 km transmission system with undersea cabling that could power a fifth of Singapore’s energy needs. Southeast Asia also has huge renewable energy potential that can be traded within the region or exported. Southeast Asia has the technical potential to achieve 100% renewable energy supply through a regional energy system however considerable further policy would be required.
Towards a fully decarbonised power system
The emissions intensity of Singapore’s power sector can reach zero to 8 gCO₂/kWh by 2040 and zero to -128 gCO₂/kWh by 2050. This would require Singapore to phase out coal, which plays a minor role, immediately from the power sector, and phase out gas between 2040 and 2050. Singapore committed to phase out coal by 2030s at COP26.
Paris Agreement compatible pathways show a high potential for renewable energy (domestic and imported). If renewables reached 94-95% of generation by 2040, this would enable achieving a 1.5°C pathway without having to rely on CDR technologies.
If Singapore continues its natural gas reliance and delays the phase out date of 2040, it risks relying more heavily on negative emissions at a later date, and stranded assets. It also exposes itself to fossil fuel price volatility, and missing out on the comparative green economic advantage.