Singapore’s Low Carbon Power Target of 4 GW Achievable by 2035: Report

Singapore has set a target of importing 4 gigawatts (GW) of low carbon power by 2035. This move aims to reduce the country’s reliance on gas, lower emissions, and has the potential to supply up to 30% of Singapore’s end-user demand, according to a new report by data and analytics company Wood Mackenzie.

The report “Singapore’s Quest for Renewable Power” states that the country’s ambitious plan represents a substantial increase from the current low carbon power imports, which stand at just 200 megawatts (MW), accounting for a mere 1.5% of the total power capacity.

“One of the key challenges in Singapore’s energy landscape is the high-cost nature of the power market, coupled with land constraints that limit the expansion of cost-competitive large-scale utility solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. As a result, the country heavily relies on gas power, which accounts for more than 90% of its power generation until 2028,” said Robert Liew, director, APAC power and renewables research at Wood Mackenzie.

Gas to Low Carbon Power Transition

According to the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the country is committed to increasing the use of renewable energy and decreasing its dependence on gas for power generation.

The country plans to rely on distributed generation (DG) solar and low carbon power imports. With the exception of Brunei, Southeast Asia has substantial untapped potential for solar energy, with each country having a theoretical solar potential exceeding 100 GW.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore has conditionally approved seven companies to import low carbon power. Keppel Energy has secured the largest capacity, at 1.4 GW, for renewables, solar with a battery energy storage system (BESS), and hydropower.

“EMA has conditionally approved 4.2 GW of import low carbon power, making Singapore’s achievable low carbon power target of 4 GW a reality. However, it is noted that none of the projects have publicly announced that they have received firm Power Purchasing Agreements, and they will take many years to come online,” says Lim Jia Liang, power analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

Costs of Power Imports

The report also found that importing power from large-scale solar and battery energy storage systems in Peninsular Malaysia and/or hydropower from Sarawak will be the cheapest form of power import due to relatively lower transmission costs compared to other potential markets.

Other potential sources include wind with batteries in Vietnam and the Philippines. However, additional transmission costs, which can be even higher than power plant development costs, would make these prohibitively expensive to export into Singapore, noted Marcus Chan, power analyst at Wood Mackenzie.