Singapore’s National Policies on Energy and Climate Change
This summary aims to provide a brief overview of Singapore’s national policies on energy and climate change, and is divided into the following sections:
- National Policy Reports
- Energy Policy Group
- Singapore’s Economic Focus
- Energy Supply
- Clean Energy
- Carbon Intensity and Energy Efficiency
1. National Policy Reports
The Singapore government’s policies on energy and climate change can be found in three national reports:
- National Energy Policy Report (published Nov 2007)
- National Climate Change Strategy (published Mar 2008)
- Sustainable Development Blueprint (published Apr 2009)
These three reports are essential reading for those who wish to have an overall picture of what the government is doing or plan to do on issues related to energy, climate change and the environment. There’s also another previous report worth reading – the Singapore Green Plan 2012 (2006 edition), published in Feb 2006.
2. Energy Policy Group
Climate change and energy issues are complex and cut across different sectors and industries, and involve policies from different ministries and agencies. The Singapore government recognises the need to have an integrated approach to dealing with energy and climate change, and has adopted a whole-of-government approach led by the Energy Policy Group (EPG) since Mar 2006. The EPG consists of representatives from the:
- Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
- Ministry of Finance (MOF)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
- Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)
- Ministry of Transport (MOT)
- Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
- Building and Construction Authority (BCA)
- Economic Development Board (EDB)
- Energy Market Authority (EMA)
- Land Transport Authority (LTA)
- National Environment Agency (NEA)
The EPG has four working groups on Economic Competitiveness, Energy Security, Climate Change and the Environment, and Energy Industry Development, headed by the different agencies shown below:
3. Singapore’s Economic Focus
Singapore’s energy and climate change policies are influenced mainly by economic considerations. The government will take pragmatic and cost-effective actions to reduce emissions and adopt clean energy, as long as the actions does not affect our economic growth or add to costs greatly.
We can’t volunteer to take drastic measures to reduce emissions on our own, at the cost of our economy and our economic growth because this is not a problem which any country can do by itself. … We contribute less than 0.2% of all the carbon emissions worldwide – 0.2% – so what we do in Singapore is not going to change the world. … but we can’t say, therefore, we ignore it. We will do our fair share as part of a global effort to reduce greenhouse gases. – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Energy plays an indispensable role in our economy, and will remain critical to our continued economic growth and development. The ultimate aim of our energy policy is to support Singapore’s continued economic growth. – National Energy Policy Report
4. Energy Supply
About 80% of Singapore’s electricity is generated from natural gas piped from Malaysia and Indonesia. The remaining electricity is generated from fuel oil and a small percentage from diesel and refuse. The government understands that we are vulnerable to energy supply and price risks as we import all our oil and gas, and has taken steps to diversify our energy supplies.
To diversify our natural gas supply, the government has decided to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and plan to have the LNG import terminal ready in 2012. This would reduce our reliance on our neighbors and increase our supply of natural gas from countries that are further from Singapore such as Australia, Qatar and Russia.
In addition, the government is looking at other energy sources such as solar and biofuels, and is open to other clean energy technologies and will consider these energy technologies as and when it becomes viable for adoption.
5. Clean Energy
The government has identified the clean energy industry as a key growth area since Mar 2007. The clean energy industry is expected to contribute S$1.7 billion to the GDP and create 7,000 jobs by 2015. The government has put in place several initiatives and funding to attract clean energy companies to set up their operations in Singapore and create jobs, and also to encourage research and development and test-bedding in clean energy technologies.
However, the government has made it clear that it will not subsidise clean energy:
Our basic policy tenet is that energy costs should be borne in full by end users. Individuals and industries should adjust their consumption of energy according to its true cost as reflected in its price. We do not subsidise the cost of energy because it will dampen price signals, and create the incentive to over-consume. … As it stands, renewable energies such as solar are still as some members have noted, much more expensive than traditional fossil fuel-based energy. To be consistent with our basic principles, we should not adopt measures which subsidise specific renewable energy types. – Senior Minister of State S. Iswaran, MTI
In Singapore, solar energy is the most promising clean energy source. However, the cost of solar energy generation is currently about twice that of energy generated by fossil fuel. In the Sustainable Development Blueprint, the government announced its plans:
We will invest early in solar technology test-bedding projects to prepare to use solar technology on a larger scale when the cost of solar energy falls closer to that of conventional energy.
HDB will implement a large-scale solar test-bed for public housing within 30 precincts islandwide, which will cost $31 million and provide 3.1 megawatts peak of solar capacity. This trial will help Singapore to implement solar technology on a larger scale when it becomes cost effective in the future.
6. Carbon Intensity and Energy Efficiency
Singapore does not have a target to reduce absolute carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, Singapore has a national target to improve our carbon intensity by 25% from 1990 level by 2012 under the Singapore Green Plan 2012. We have already met the target and even exceeded it (read Singapore’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Capita and Carbon Intensity).
Singapore’s key strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to be more energy efficient. The Sustainable Development Blueprint sets a target to reduce our energy intensity (per dollar GDP) by 20% from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
To help Singapore meet the targets, the Energy Efficiency Programme Office (E2PO) is promoting energy efficiency in the various sectors through the Energy Efficient Singapore policies and measures (read the Overview of the Energy Situation in Singapore).