Clean Energy

Tertiary students invited to develop sustainable energy solutions as part of EMA competition

HDB flats in Singapore at night. Image: iStock/Andrew Teo

From CNA

SINGAPORE: Students from institutes of higher learning will be able to take part in a competition that allows them to develop sustainable energy solutions with industry partners.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) – together with partners Keppel Infrastructure, Schneider Electric and Sembcorp Industries – said on Wednesday (May 25) that a new category for these students will be included in the Singapore Energy Grand Challenge (Youth) 2022.

The competition, first launched in March 2020, has involved more than 170 teams from 40 schools.

The new category will target students from institutes of technical education (ITE), polytechnics and autonomous universities. They will have to come up with “sustainable energy solutions to address real-world problems faced by energy companies today”, said EMA.

Students participating in the institute of higher learning category will need to address company-specific problem statements proposed by the respective energy companies.

“These include topics on enhancing power grid reliability with increasing electric vehicle adoption, improving the efficiency of solar panels, and reducing energy consumption through digital technologies,” EMA said.

As part of the challenge, finalist teams will be given mentoring and training opportunities to refine their solutions.

The top teams with the most innovative solutions will receive a total of S$10,000 in cash prizes for their solutions to each company-specific problem statement, the authority added.

The champion will receive S$6,000 and the first runner-up will get S$4,000.

“Given Singapore’s aspiration to decarbonise its power sector by 2050, providing opportunities for students to co-create solutions with the industry could spark fresh perspectives in reducing our carbon emissions,” said EMA chief executive Ngiam Shih Chun.

Interested students can register for the new category from Wednesday, until Jun 30.

They must form groups of two to four schoolmates and submit a proposal showcasing how their proposed solution addresses the problem statement.

Shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in the semi-finals in September, followed by the grand final, which will be held at Youth@SIEW in October.

The Singapore Youth Energy Grand Challenge (Youth) also includes Junior and Senior categories for secondary and junior college students.

For these categories, students were invited to use Minecraft: Education Edition to share their ideas on a topic titled “As Singapore transitions towards a carbon-free energy future, how can we reduce our carbon footprint by leveraging the Four Switches and managing energy demand to achieve a more sustainable Singapore by 2050?”

Registration for these categories closed in May. The competition received a total of 88 submissions from 25 schools, with the top teams to receive their awards in October.

The top team for each category will receive S$5,000, while the first and second runner-ups will receive S$3,000 and S$2,000 respectively.

Author: Gabrielle Andres

Australia begins long road to retraining thousands of coal workers for clean energy roles

Australia needs to accelerate efforts to lure new entrants and retrain industry veterans in the shift to clean power. Image: Reuters

From The Straits Times

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – The sudden speed of the shift to clean power is forcing Australia, a global champion of coal and gas, to confront one of the energy industry’s biggest challenges – how to transition millions of fossil fuel workers to new roles in wind and solar.

Clean energy could create more than 38 million jobs worldwide by the end of the decade and meeting that demand without a labour shortage requires accelerating efforts to not only lure new entrants, but also to create a clearer plan to retrain the industry’s veteran workforce as traditional fuel sources decline.

That’s a task getting underway in Australia, where coal’s supremacy is finally under threat from cheap clean power, and with lawmakers who once defended fossil fuels now trading promises over green jobs in campaigning ahead of a May national election.

“The light is just going on across governments and industry” that more investment in training is needed, with a lack of skilled workers already emerging for some existing projects and challenging plans to add more clean energy to help nations meet climate commitments, said Dr Chris Briggs, research director at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

In the southeastern city of Ballarat, a key 19th Century gold mining hub, companies including Vestas Wind Systems A/S – the world’s biggest turbine manufacturer – have funded the country’s first wind power training tower, where students and ex-coal workers can use a 23m-high platform to acquire the expertise needed for roles in renewables.

“At the moment, with these skills, you have to fly them in from outside, or send Australians overseas,” said Mr Duncan Bentley, a vice-chancellor at Federation University, which hosts the site.

The facility is the first local training institution that can provide a key safety qualification needed to work in the wind industry.

Renewables accounted for almost a third of the country’s electricity generation in 2021, double the share four years earlier, and utilities are bringing forward plans to retire coal-fired power stations years ahead of schedule.

About 10,000 coal jobs in Australian mines and power plants related to domestic electricity generation will be lost by 2036, according to Dr Briggs. More will surely also exit as coal exporters eventually shutter.

In the same period, around 20,000 to 25,000 new jobs will appear in the construction, maintenance and operation of renewable power, he said.

Legislators, too, are starting to adapt. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison won a 2019 election in part because his defence of fossil fuel jobs helped secure decisive support in coal communities.

Ahead of May’s election – with his government trailing the opposition Labor Party in opinion surveys – he’s still supporting coal, but also touting prospects for workers to win new roles in clean hydrogen.

There is a catch in the rush to new sectors. Most roles in solar and wind power promise only a fraction of the salaries in the minerals industry. Mining is in the blood in Australia, fostering almost every economic boom since the gold rushes of the 19th century.

“As a young fellow it made sense to go straight to the mines, trying to chase money,” said Mr Dan Carey, who spent 12 years working in the remote iron ore hub of Port Hedland as well as the oil and gas town of Karratha in Western Australia.

In January, in search of a better lifestyle, he became a service technician at a wind farm in Warradarge, a three-hour drive north of Perth. Now “it’s about enjoying the work”, Mr Carey said. “In the mining world, everyone does sort of live for the money.”

For example, the starting salary for an operator at AGL Energy’s Loy Yang A coal power station in Victoria is about A$164,500 (S$164,750) while a technician for wind turbine builder Suzlon would earn between A$100,000 and A$120,000, according to recent Fair Work Commission enterprise agreements.

In mining there are also a raft of perks, that could include 6 weeks paid leave, subsidised housing and utilities, free vacation air tickets and big bonuses.

“It’s definitely going to be hard to retain people that have come from that world,” Mr Carey said.

Also, while mining and coal power have provided work for generations of Australians, many new jobs in renewables are temporary.

“The challenge is that there are hundreds of jobs in construction and only a handful of jobs in operations and maintenance,” said Ms Anita Talberg, director of workplace development at the Clean Energy Council, an industry group. And some of the highest-skilled jobs in fossil fuels have no direct equivalent in renewables, she said.

Yet the sheer size of the energy transition will mean construction of large new solar and wind farms will continue for decades, steadily increasing the number of ongoing positions as the new plants come online.

Fossil fuel veterans are well positioned to prosper, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Staff on gas platforms typically have expertise suitable for offshore wind, while coal workers have been recruited into solar and oil reservoir engineers can use their knowhow for geothermal power.

Australia’s first offshore wind farm, the Star of the South, is scheduled to open in 2028 in the Bass Strait, off the country’s southern coast. At about the same time, Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings will close the ageing Yallourn coal-fired plant nearby after more than 100 years of operation.

The wind project is aiming to capitalise on the pool of potential workers, and has sought talks about retraining opportunities. “You’ve got the workers with the skill sets,” said Ms Erin Coldham, Star of the South’s chief development officer.

India and Australia sign letter of intent on solar, ‘clean’ hydrogen

The dialogue was co-chaired by India’s Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh, and Australia’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor. Source: PIB, government of India

From pv magazine Australia

India and Australia have agreed to jointly work towards reducing the cost of new and renewable energy technologies and scaling up deployment to accelerate global emissions reduction. 

The two sides signed a letter of intent (LoI) in this regard during the 4th India – Australia Energy Dialogue, co-chaired by India’s Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh, and Australia’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor.

The focus of this LoI will be scaling up the manufacture and deployment of ultra-low-cost solar and “clean” hydrogen.

“Clean hydrogen,” a term frequently used by the Morrison government, refers to hydrogen made from fossil fuels where emissions are claimed to be captured by carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. It is otherwise known as blue hydrogen, and not to be confused with green or renewable hydrogen.*

Energy transition was a major area of discussion in the dialogue and both the energy ministers spoke in detail about the ongoing energy transition activities in their respective countries with a focus on renewables, energy efficiency, storage, electric vehicles, critical minerals, mining, etc. The Indian side also highlighted the need for climate finance for meeting the energy transition goals of developing countries.

The two sides agreed on a forward action plan for areas like energy efficiency technologies; grid management; R&D collaboration on flue gas desulphurisation, biomass or hydrogen co-firing, water cycle optimisation, renewables integration, batteries, and electric mobility.

Author: Uma Gupta