Committee of Supply Debate 2010: Ministry of Trade and Industry
Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, gave his speech during the Committee of Supply Debate under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). The speech addresses questions related to Singapore’s energy policy, and can be downloaded from the MTI website.
Here are some key points that he raised:
Our goal is to make Singapore a Smart Energy Economy with an energy ecosystem that is secure, sustainable and competitive. Our strategy to meet the global energy challenges rests on two key thrusts: diversification and competitive energy markets.
The Government agrees with the Economic Strategies Committee’s (ESC) recommendation to adopt a portfolio approach towards energy – in other words, no one energy option will be adequate to meet our varied energy objectives.
We will adopt a pragmatic approach by evaluating the alternatives on the basis of energy security, economic viability and environmental sustainability.
Among the renewable energy sources currently available, solar is one of the most promising in our context for electricity generation. While still relatively expensive today, solar energy prices could achieve grid parity in the medium term.
… why are we prepared to study nuclear energy as an option now. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it can potentially enhance energy security, reduce carbon emissions, and mitigate the impact of volatile oil and gas prices – thus it could meet, potentially all our objectives embedded in the national energy policy.
The aim is to ensure that we fully understand, and objectively evaluate from all perspectives, the opportunities, challenges and risks involved with nuclear energy. The study will commence later this year. It will entail a careful, deliberate and rigorous examination of the technical, economic and safety aspects of nuclear energy.
Clean coal could be a component of our energy diversification strategy. Currently, coal makes up more than 40 per cent of global power generation. And, it is expected to remain at this level until at least 2030 given the relative abundance of coal sources in the world. Coal also has a cost advantage though this may be eroded by any future global carbon pricing regime. However, combustion technology is evolving, making coal cleaner than before and we must, therefore, keep this option open.
We are price-takers in the global energy market because we are small and import almost all our energy requirements. We therefore must allow the full cost of energy to be reflected in prices. Subsidising energy would be encouraging wasteful consumption and it will also be a drain on public finances.