Fuel Cells Can Play a Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Renewable Energy Development in Singapore
Taking proactive steps to mitigate climate change, Singapore is increasing support for innovative sources of renewable energy, including a May 31st Straits Times report of a government tender to examine the feasibility of importing hydrogen as a new fuel source. “3 ways Singapore is presenting a pathway to climate change mitigation” details the three clear steps this business-led island nation has taken to offset climate change, recognizing that there are still further steps that could be taken if Singapore were committed to truly maximizing its efforts to mitigating climate change. Expanding their range of renewables to take advantage of fuel cell technologies for storage and backup power could significantly contribute to these efforts.
A tiny tropical island 1⁰ above the Equator, of which 30% of its land mass is less than 5 meters above sea level, Singapore suffers frequent flash floods and experienced a rise in temperature of 1.1⁰ since 1972 – an increase that was amplified to 7⁰ due to what is called the “urban heat island effect”. Facing such an existential threat, it is understandable that Singapore was the 13th of 197 nations to sign the UN Framework on Climate Change.
Singapore has taken three clear steps to limit climate change: 1) setting an explicit commitment to peak carbon emissions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 36% by 2030; 2) as of 2019 setting a tax of S$5 per ton on any CO2 emissions beyond 25,000 tons; and 3) liberalizing the energy market to allow consumers to choose any power utility supplier – including suppliers offering electricity from renewables. These are steps in the right direction, although to date the proportion of renewables in the Singapore energy mix remains low.
Alongside the state-led measures, prominent Singapore businesses such as Standard Chartered Bank take action to end financial support for the coal industry while prominent personalities support environmental organizations and divestiture of universities from fossil fuels. Though perhaps not ideal, we can still learn valuable lessons from this urbanized island nation.
Although due to scarce available land and highly congested sea lanes, mass solar, wind or tidal renewable energy production has not developed in Singapore, investment in solar and renewables is growing. The Economic Development Board (EDB) reports that Singapore has invested S$2 billion in cleantech R&D, set up regulatory sandboxes and research institutes and put in place a regulatory framework to encourage renewables and incubate a regional center of clean energy expertise. Solar energy generation reached 140 mWh in 2017 and will reach 2GW in 2025.
To support the increase of intermittent power generation, the Energy Market Authority and the SP Group have established an Energy Storage System (ESS) test-bed initiative to increase the stability and resilience of the Singaporean power system. The test-bed initiative aims to 1) evaluate the performance of storage technologies in the Singapore climate and urban conditions; 2) set energy storage standards and guidelines and 3) to set regulatory policies for introducing an ESS to the electricity market. In October 2017 two projects received $17.8 million in grants to build utility-scale storage deployments at two different power substations.
Looking to liberalize the energy market and expand the proportion of renewable energy generation, the Singapore Energy Market Authority is smart to be looking for innovative technologies to reliably store the increased generation of intermittent solar PV energy. Taking into consideration the tropical temperatures and humidity on the one hand and the tight space and noise constraints of this congested urban environment on the other, ultra-reliable, emission-free, compact and silent fuel cells offer a complementary storage technology that is well-suited to Singapore’s specific requirements. Considering that Singapore is becoming a leading force in clean technology in Southeast Asia and needs reliable storage technologies to complement solar and expand its range of renewables, it’s no surprise that there is growing demand from businesses for hydrogen-based fuel cells. Not only do they offer zero-emission clean power to mitigate climate change, but they also provide an ultra-reliable, small footprint backup solution that could prevent the impact of power outages in urban Singapore.
To learn more about the benefits of fuel cells for businesses, such as GenCell Energy’s alkaline fuel cell technologies, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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