Climate action

Acra, SGX RegCo set up committee on sustainability reporting for S’pore firms

Acra and SGX RegCo are developing a road map for wider implementation of sustainability reporting for Singapore companies. ST Photo: Lim Yaohui

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Companies in Singapore may soon have a clearer picture of how to carry out sustainability reporting, with a committee set up to discuss the suitability of implementing international standards here.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) and Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) have formed a sustainability reporting advisory committee to provide guidance on a road map for companies incorporated here.

“As part of its work, the committee will provide inputs on the suitability of international sustainability reporting standards for implementation in Singapore,” said Acra and SGX on Tuesday (June 21).

Acra and SGX RegCo are developing a road map for wider implementation of sustainability reporting for Singapore companies beyond those listed on the local bourse.

SGX RegCo has mandated sustainability reporting for listed companies since 2016 and climate reporting from financial year 2022 on a comply-or-explain basis.

Climate reporting will be mandatory for issuers in the financial, energy, and agriculture, food and forest products industries from FY2023. Listed companies from the materials and buildings, and transportation industries will also be subject to mandatory reporting from their FY2024.

“The growing interest in environment, social and governance (ESG) issues globally has led to a call to provide greater transparency and assurance on companies’ ESG-related information which investors and other stakeholders can incorporate into their decision-making,” said Acra and SGX on Tuesday.

The new committee is chaired by Ms Esther An, chief sustainability officer of property developer City Developments.

Its 13 members include other chief sustainability officers, representatives from financial institutions, institutional and retail investors, sustainability reporting professionals and academics.

Ms An said effective ESG integration and disclosure are critical to accelerating global efforts to build a greener and more resilient future.

She added that the committee’s efforts will complement Acra and SGX RegCo’s initiatives to rally corporates and stakeholders to contribute to the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the global agenda on sustainable development.

Author: Prisca Ang

‘The villain is the framework’: crisis an opportunity to review regulation requisites

Gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the unfolding energy crisis in Australia has been harshly criticised, but Dufty points out companies are simply following the logic of profit within a framework that makes such practices possible. Image: Bluescope

Australia’s energy crisis affords it an intricate, if painful, look at exactly where and how our current electricity regulations no longer fit their purpose. According to analyst Gavin Dufty, now is the time to retrain our eyes on the prize: designing a new framework suitable for the future decentralised system. “But everybody needs to put their guns back in their holsters,” Dufty tells pv magazine Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

With Australia’s National Electricity Market spot market now suspended, an extraordinary move from the market operator yesterday to cool a fiery situation, the emphasis now needs to be on what can be learned from the meltdown, says Gavin Dufty, an energy analyst with St Vincent de Paul.

“Here’s an opportunity,” he tells pv magazine Australia. “It’s about recasting regulatory framework so it’s fit for purpose.”

“The world is watching us,” he adds. “We actually get to be leaders.”

“It’s not just one tweak. Everything needs to move together in concert to create the new orchestra or architecture for the future energy market because this one is not going to work, and it’s not working.”

Our current regulatory framework, built for a centralised fossil fuel system, uses a top down approach. Now, as electricity is increasingly generated on rooftops and in paddocks, the system needs to reflect this shift from a handful of mega generators to a collection of small technologies. That is, it needs to be designed for the bottom up future.

In the days days, the operator (AEMO) and ministers have come out against gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the situation, and therefore jeopardising an essential service, Dufty is quick to point out the companies are simply following a logic made accessible to them.  “They’re doing what they’ve been told to do for a hundred years”: maximise profits.

“Maybe the villain is the framework,” he posits.

Under Australia’s current framework, he says, the cost of the crisis will eventually wash up with consumers, but this doesn’t have to be the case. “Where it falls depends on how governments intervene,” he says. “In unusual times, you probably need unusual transition methods.”

He believes the electricity system is moving from a goods market to service market, which means companies operating within it should have a duty of care. This is especially true since the market delivers an essential service.

Moreover, Dufty says there needs to be a laser focus on consumer households and delivering value to them.

“Follow the money,” he says, “in the next 10 years, if you have five million Australian households investing in electricity assets like PV, EVs [electric vehicles], batteries and the like, that’s $250 billion worth of energy assets installed behind the metre.”

“The investment in energy is going to happen and those consumers will want value for their investment.”

The role of industry and the framework which governs it is to make sure that value is realised.

Solaray Energy says its inquiries and battery sales have surged since the federal election in May. Image: Solaray Energy

St Vincent de Paul were one of the primary proponents of two-way pricing, which quickly came to be dubbed a ‘sun tax’ and fiercely criticised. Be that as it may, the vision is not without merit – especially when taking into account future technologies beyond solar. The Australian Energy Market Commission agreed, heralding in the change last year.

The changes, for Dufty, are imperative because they shine a light on the other side of the electricity grid balancing equation, the side often left out of the discussion: load flexibility.

Creating and compelling load flexibility, that is changing when electricity is used, is the other side of the generation drama. As others have pointed out before him, jamming more solar into the situation simply won’t work. The penetrations are already so high that much of the energy generated in the day is simply going to waste and causing greater imbalances in the night.

“There isn’t one magical solution,” he says, “diversity is the key here.”

Dufty is adamant what’s good for individual households and what is good for society and the larger electricity network don’t need to compete. But to ensure those two forces aren’t mutually exclusive, the regulatory framework needs to change drastically.

“This is not incremental change. We might have step by step,” he says, but in the end it must amount to a full redesign, especially in terms of consumer protections.

Likewise complementary frameworks like the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) need to be reviewed to ensure they remain fit for purpose as well, Dufty says.

Author: Bella Peacock

Australia raises emissions cutting target for 2030

Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese pledged to participate in international efforts to address global warming. Image: AFP

From AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – Australia, under a new Labor government, on Thursday  (June 16) raised its 2030 target for cutting carbon emissions, bringing the country more in line with other developed economies’ Paris climate accord commitments.

Australia, one of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters, pledged to the United Nations that it would cut carbon emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, up from the previous conservative government’s target of between 26 per cent and 28 per cent.

“When I’ve spoken with international leaders in the last few weeks, they have all welcomed Australia’s changed position,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after notifying the UN.

Under the former government, Australia, the world’s top exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, had long been seen as a laggard in climate commitments, with no clear energy and climate policy to encourage renewable energy investments.

At the UN climate summit in Glasgow last year, former prime minister Scott Morrison was criticised for failing to set a more ambitious emissions-cutting target while the United States, Canada, EU, Britain and Japan all sharply stepped up their pledges.

Canada is aiming for a reduction of 40 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels, while the US has a target of up to 52 per cent.

“For years, the Australian government told the world that was all too hard,” Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen told reporters at a televised media conference in Canberra.

“We send the message to the rest of the world, to our friends and allies, that we’re partners in tackling the climate emergency. We send the message to Australians that we seek to end the climate wars, as the Prime Minister said,” Mr Bowen added.

The push to slash emissions more rapidly comes as the country is facing a major power crisis caused by planned and unplanned coal-fired generator outages, which have driven up demand for gas-fired generation just as global gas prices have skyrocketed.

Mr Bowen said the crisis highlighted the need to speed up, not slow down, work on the regulations needed to encourage more investment in renewable energy.

Hydrogen generation from organic waste, non-recyclable plastic

The oH2 system is installed in a 20-foot standard container. The plants are cascadable. Image: H2 Industries

US-based H2 Industries plans to produce hydrogen from organic waste and non-recyclable plastic. pv magazine recently spoke with its executive president, Michael Stusch, about the main technologies behind the project.

From pv magazine

New York-based H2-Industries has announced a plan to produce 300,000 tons of hydrogen per year in Egypt, out of up to 4 million tons of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic.

The company said its Suez Canal Project is the first of its kind in the world. It explained that hydrogen production at the planned facility could achieve a levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH) that is almost half of other existing green hydrogen production technologies, and also lower than that of gray hydrogen.

“We are currently in discussion for similar projects in 30 countries from South America, Europe, the Middle East to all areas in Africa,” H2 Industries Executive Chairman Michael Stusch told pv magazine, noting that preliminary approvals for the project in Egypt have already been secured.

H2-Industries uses a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology, which it considers to be the cheapest, safest, and most reliable transportation method. Its system is based on integrated thermolysis plant units based on pre-assembled scalable modules in standard container frames, which are designed to produce hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic waste such as hydrocarbons like polyethylene, biogenic residues from agriculture, forestry, food waste, and sewage sludge.

“Thermolysis is not waste combustion, but rather a high-temperature conversion process without oxygen or air to produce hydrogen,” Stusch explained. “The thermolysis units decompose waste at temperatures of around 900 C and close to ambient pressure in the presence of steam reforming. The integrated process splits and regroups the feedstock molecules into a hydrogen-rich gas mixture and, finally, the hydrogen is purified from this mixture.”

Stusch claimed that waste-to-hydrogen is a game-changer. “A change in paradigms takes a little longer, but we are convinced it will have the bigger impact,” he said.

The technology will jump-start when the first production plants show that hydrogen from organic waste and non-recyclable plastic will be cheaper than green hydrogen, he said, noting that this may also require a supportive regulatory framework. In addition, he noted that Europe’s waste sectors are over-regulated, which poses a range of challenges.

“Nevertheless, we are in touch with potential partners in various European regions. Countries with underdeveloped waste sectors often are very open to our technology,” said Stusch.

In late April, H2 Industries unveiled plans to develop a $1.4 billion waste-to-hydrogen plant in conjunction with PV solar power plants and baseload capacity in Oman.

Core criticism

Not everybody is in favor of using waste-to-hydrogen technology. Canadian expert Martin said that municipal solid waste (MSW) contains some energy but that any fuel that you make out of it has to be considered fossil fuel.

“Once you take into account the energy needed to dry it, the net energy in excess of the energy required for drying, is of fossil origin,” he told pv magazine, adding that it is better to bury non-recyclable plastics. “They cease to degrade. They do not release their fossil CO2 content for thousands of years.”

According to Martin, there is a growing interest in technology, especially in countries running out of landfill space. “They should therefore focus on better waste segregation, waste reduction, and recycling. Switching from landfilling to air-filling is not a good tradeoff.”

He also argued that wet organic content should be removed at the source and fed to anaerobic digesters to make biogas. “It needs not to be converted to hydrogen, wasting at least 30% of its energy content in the process.”

Author: Sergio Matalucci

Singapore, China ink MOUs to deepen cooperation in green and digital economies

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong (left) and China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao at the signing ceremony on June 13, 2022. Image: Ministry of Trade and Industry

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – China and Singapore have strengthened bilateral relations after the two countries announced collaborations to promote the green economy and enhance cooperation and exchanges in the digital economy.

On Monday (June 13), Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and China Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao signed two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

An MOU on green development will promote bilateral cooperation in the green economy through policy sharing and business cooperation.

It will focus on areas such as renewable energy, green building, green finance, as well as water and waste management.

Both countries will also encourage businesses to carry out joint research and development activities and jointly promote low carbon technological innovations, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in a release.

Meanwhile, an MOU on the digital economy will strengthen bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the digital economy.

This will be done through the exploration of joint opportunities for growth in areas such as investment cooperation, digital trade and digitally enabled services, among others.

Singapore’s MTI and China’s Ministry of Commerce will establish working groups to oversee the implementation of both MOUs.

In a post on LinkedIn, Mr Gan spoke of his meeting with Mr Wang, saying that they discussed the deepening of the countries bilateral relations as well as collaboration in international fora such as the WTO.

The digital economy is an important driver of global economic growth, while the green economy is increasingly critical to help countries address challenges arising from global climate change, said Mr Gan, in a separate statement issued by MTI.

He added: “The signing of the two MOUs not only signify Singapore and China’s commitment to broaden and deepen our bilateral cooperation, but also provide new impetus for our countries to explore new areas of cooperation in digital economy and green economy that can address shared policy priorities and business interests.”

Author: Anjali Raguraman, Consumer Correspondent

WTO goes green as climate change impacts trade

The WTO is staging its first meeting of trade ministers in nearly five years and environmental issues are rocketing up the agenda. Image: EPA-EFE

From AFP

GENEVA (AFP) – The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) boss insisted on Monday (June 13) that turning trade green was now urgent business, with the WTO putting climate change at the heart of its negotiations.

The WTO is staging its first meeting of trade ministers in nearly five years and environmental issues are rocketing up the agenda at the global trade body.

The European Union on Monday teamed up with Ecuador, Kenya and New Zealand to launch a new Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate, in the expectation that other countries will join the forum.

And diverse nations are already banding together in other groups to try and find mutual ways forward on topics such environmentally sustainable trade and tackling plastic pollution.

“Greening trade is urgent: climate change isn’t waiting,” WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said after attending the new coalition’s launch on day two of the WTO ministerial conference in Geneva.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the new group would try to tackle the climate crisis in a fair manner through trade policy.

“Trade has to be part of the solution. It is an engine of growth that can create new green jobs, reduce poverty and support the transition to climate-neutral economies,” he told the group’s launch.

Children’s future

Its ministers want to boost trade, and trade policies, in support of sustainable development and the 2015 Paris Agreement climate goals.

A first meeting is planned for July to work out the coalition’s next steps.

Climate change is not strictly within the WTO’s purview but the organisation – which is looking to revive its importance on the world stage – wants to make sustainable development and environmental protection among its core objectives.

“We need to profoundly change how we produce and consume things if we want our children to have a sustainable, peaceful and comfortable life in 50 years’ time,” said WTO deputy director-general Zhang Xiangchen.

The WTO traditionally reaches agreements by consensus, and some of its 164 members form groups on various issues to try and find ways forward, with climate change being no exception.

Several dozen WTO member countries pledged in late December to intensify discussions on plastic pollution, fossil fuel subsidies and environmentally sustainable trade, in a move hailed as historic by Mr Okonjo-Iweala.

Fossil fuel subsidies ‘insane’

Australia’s WTO ambassador George Mina, who co-chairs the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution, said 72 countries were now on board.

Mr Mina said countries had failed to tackle major environmental problems through the WTO, but in recent months, “we’ve seen a significant elevation in the profile, energy and focus” on such issues.

“Trade policy has to be a part of the solution on the environment and climate change response,” he said.

Co-chair Li Chenggang, China’s WTO ambassador, added: “Plastic is an important basic raw material but the leakage of plastic waste in the natural environment has brought environmental pollution and harm.”

At a press conference on fossil fuel subsidies, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun R. Gylfadottir said renewable energy was “good business”, making economic and environmental sense.

“The fact that global subsidies for fossils fuels exceed those for renewable energy should come as a wake-up call for all of us,” she said.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s trade minister Damien O’Connor said subsidies at a time when countries needed to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels “seems somewhat contradictory, if not insane”.

3 ways to speed up Singapore’s transition towards a green future: Grace Fu

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu highlighted three ways Singapore can accelerate sustainability and climate action. Image: ST FILE

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The Republic must keep up the international momentum in addressing the threat of climate change amid pressing priorities such as the Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation and geostrategic challenges, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Tuesday (June 7).

Speaking at the gala dinner of Temasek’s annual sustainability conference – Ecosperity Week – Ms Fu highlighted three ways the nation can accelerate sustainability and climate action.

1. Catalyse action towards inclusive transition

As the carbon tax is progressively raised to $50 to $80 per tonne by 2030, the revenue will support the transition to a greener economy through incentivising low-carbon solutions and cushioning the impact on businesses and households.

Businesses increasingly recognise the opportunities in the circular, low-carbon economy, while the choices of individuals can also play a role, said Ms Fu.

“Individual action may feel insignificant and is indeed insufficient. However, our collective actions will enable us to achieve our ultimate common goals,” she added.

If consumers avoid disposables, buy locally farmed vegetables and fish, and choose energy-efficient appliances, for instance, these choices will create ripple effects that accelerate the development of more sustainable products.

From the middle of next year, large supermarkets will implement a disposable bag charge, which aims to encourage the public to use reusable bags and be more judicious in their use of disposables.

2. Unlock more sustainable solutions

Technologies and solutions to decarbonise still remain out of reach or are not yet commercially viable, but industry collaborations can bring about new solutions, said Ms Fu.

Last month, Singapore joined the First Movers Coalition with eight other nations, which will allow companies to harness purchasing power and supply chains to create early markets for innovative low-carbon technologies.

This serves as a launchpad for them to reach commercial scale and could open doors for local businesses to innovate with like-minded partners.

Ms Fu also cited the Jurong Island Circular Economy study last year, which analysed the energy, water and chemical waste from 51 companies on the island.

The study has provided insights on how to reduce resource use and boost Jurong Island’s competitiveness and sustainability.

A new research institute focusing on how to shrink the carbon footprint of the industrial sector – responsible for about 60 per cent of the country’s total emissions – was also set up on Jurong Island earlier this year.

One focus area of the Institute of Sustainability for Chemicals, Energy and Environment is on reducing or removing planet-warming emissions.

This can be done through carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies – which aim to capture greenhouse gases released from industrial processes before they reach the atmosphere, and then either convert them into useful substances, such as chemicals or store them underground.

The institute was set up by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, which is working with industrial partners and other government agencies to study and plan for the development of a carbon capture and utilisation translational test bed on Jurong Island.

3. Specialise in green finance and carbon services

Ms Fu noted that Singapore is highly disadvantaged by its lack of natural renewable energy sources, as it does not have large rivers to draw hydropower or vast lands for wind turbines.

But with its reputation as an international financial hub, it is well placed to support countries with untapped natural renewable energy sources through the trading of carbon credits, she added.

For example, polluting companies can buy carbon credits from a renewable energy plant to offset and compensate for their own emissions.

And with the Article 6 rulebook on international carbon markets finalised at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last year, Singapore can help propel the growth of green finance and carbon services in the region, said Ms Fu.

“This will enable businesses to access the capital they need to innovate, operationalise, and scale their green projects,” she added.

In March, Singapore and Indonesia inked a partnership, where they will collaborate on carbon pricing and markets, and also explore financing solutions in carbon credit projects.

Author: Shabana Begum

Temasek launches green investment arm, pledges $5b in initial funding

GenZero, wholly owned by Temasek, aims to accelerate global efforts to cut carbon emissions and fight climate change. Image: ST PHOTO/KUA CHEE SIONG

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s investment company, Temasek, announced on Monday (June 6) the launch of a green investment firm to accelerate global efforts to cut carbon emissions and fight climate change, with an initial pledge of $5 billion.

GenZero, wholly owned by Temasek, aims to deploy long-term and flexible capital to help early-stage companies and technology solutions that need funding to grow towards commercialisation, as well as more mature opportunities that are ready to scale up.

Its investments seek to help the world achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels, key goals of the United Nations’ Paris Agreement, the world’s main climate pact.

Temasek’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard said that because decarbonisation is now a specialist investment discipline, the introduction of a platform like GenZero is well placed.

“You can be very alarmist when you talk about climate, so actually it is appropriate for us to ring the bell loudly and say it is on our watch that we have to tackle this,” said Dr Howard, adding that carbon no longer existed on the periphery of the economy but has now become internalised for most companies actively evaluating how they will transition towards net zero.

“This is not about incremental change, it is about transitioning every business and every investment decision. It has been described as the race of our lives and I really see it as that…. and we have to be the generation that leads that change.”

GenZero will be headed up by Mr Frederick Teo, who is currently managing director of sustainable solutions at Temasek International. Mr Teo will assume the role of chief executive from July 1.

Mr Teo, who has been at Temasek for nearly 12 years holding various leadership positions, said GenZero’s investments will focus on three areas.

It will fund technology-based solutions that deliver deep emissions reductions, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage and advanced biofuels; nature-based solutions that help protect and restore natural ecosystems while benefiting local communities and biodiversity; and investment in companies and solutions that support the development of an efficient and credible carbon market.

He added that while GenZero has a broader, more flexible investment mandate, the company will still be seeking sustainable returns on investments made.

“Clearly we are not going to be investing in solutions that are currently in the lab and not yet ready or if we cannot see a pathway to climate impact,” Mr Teo said.

“We are also looking at solutions that have the potential to scale, because if there is something that works really great but cannot be deployed at scale, it will not be able to create the kind of climate impact that we seek to achieve.”

Author: Luke Pachymuthu, Senior Correspondent

‘Clear winds of change’ in Southeast Asia

From pv magazine 05/2022

Siemens released its “Asia Pacific Energy Transition Readiness Index” in April, and it reported that the region scores very low on the index, at 25%. It said this represents a “solid foundation, but there is a still a long way to go.” One of the key findings was that policy settings need to be addressed. You have been very critical of public policy in support of renewable energy adoption in Southeast Asia. What’s your reaction to this score from Siemens?

The Siemens result isn’t a surprise because if you look at the actual deployment of renewable energy, then Southeast Asia is a laggard. However, I think that we can now finally detect very clear winds of change. I will take you through a quick tour of the region to explain that a bit further.

Starting with the richest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore. In October 2021, Singapore issued a request for proposal (RfP) for companies to tender to supply it with renewable energy and stated its goal that at least 30% of its electricity supply should come from renewables by 2035, while releasing expert studies that its power sector can go net zero by 2050. That is seismic change in the positioning of Singapore in terms of renewable energy. Previously, Singapore was always saying that it didn’t have space [for renewable energy], because it is a small country. Now it has moved decisively to rely on renewable energy nonetheless and issue an RfP to developers to build that capacity around Singapore and then export it to Singapore.

Vietnam, as you know, has already been at the vanguard because it achieved a record-speed deployment of renewable energy in 2019/20/21 – and Vietnam is now up there with the best of the world in terms of what it is doing on renewables.

The Philippines is also in very good shape because it has legally binding Renewable Portfolio Standard obligations imposed on the utilities. These force the utilities over time to increase their renewable energy percentage. So, when we talk about Southeast Asia, I think that Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines are now in line with the most progressive countries on renewable energy.

If those three are the leaders, how would you describe the laggards?

In terms of the big markets, there is Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I would say in all three cases we are seeing clear movement as well, although there are no overarching nor ambitious goals that have been announced. Indonesia has had a goal for a while, but it is not delivering on it on the ground – however, we do see things changing at the developer level across the country. In Thailand we see developers gearing up for a change in the posture of the regulator. And Malaysia has been making some progress on renewables.

We should layer into this what is going on in the gas markets. A lot of these countries are highly dependent on gas. For example, 95% of Singapore’s electricity is powered by natural gas. A large proportion [of electricity generation] is similarly dependent on gas, such as in Thailand. With gas multiplying in price by anywhere between a factor of two and 10, it is very clear that people are taking another look at the sun and the wind. I expect all of these countries to ramp up their efforts because of the volatility in the gas markets, on which a lot of them are dependent. Out of all these countries, only Indonesia is energy independent.

And while Indonesia’s energy independence is based on coal, there was a recent report from Rystad Energy that noted that gas production in the region has been declining for many years and will never recover.

That’s correct and strengthens the argument: The volatility of supply and price of natural gas is a reality all of ASEAN are aware of today and thinking through.

Something that was promising but appears to have been snuffed out, was the 1 GW solar auction in Myanmar. The recent military coup has stalled progress on the successful projects awarded in the tender. Do you have any information as to whether the solar development plans will get back on track?

I think you have to ask some of the developers who were bidding to find out more. But the short of it is that Myanmar became unbankable, and it doesn’t have anything to do with renewable energy itself, but because of political risk. But I should note that even TotalEnergies stopped investing in fossil fuels in Myanmar. And if Total, which is notorious for investing in all sorts of high-risk projects and countries, is not investing in Myanmar, then I am not sure that renewables has anything to do with that conversation at all.

Looking at Indonesia, I am aware that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been doing a lot of work with the Indonesian government. How encouraging is that kind of work?

It is encouraging! And a lot of people have been working closely with the Indonesian government, effectively nudging them forward but also counteracting a lot of the propaganda that comes from the coal industry against renewables.

Activity on the ground doesn’t lie, and what we do see is small Indonesian renewable energy developers popping up all over the place and starting to develop deals, in a way that we were not seeing even a year ago. That is a very good sign because it means that the country is communicating that it is turning the corner on renewables. Usually, you need to watch what the locals are doing to get an inkling as to what the trend might be. That certainly was not the case a year ago. So, the IEA and everyone else working with the government helps, because it helps set the direction of travel.

In Indonesia, there is state-owned PLN, a vertically integrated utility. That is not an uncommon situation in Southeast Asia. Do you see that as being a positive or an inhibitor of renewable energy development in the region? Because we know that these kinds of utilities have a captive market and would want to maintain it.

Personally, I think it is neutral. If we contrast Vietnam with Indonesia, both have the same type of setup. You have PLN in Indonesia and EVN in Vietnam and both have monopoly positions. However, Vietnam built renewables at the fastest pace globally for a couple of years, while Indonesia did nothing. So, it is not just about the structure of your utility system for the installation of renewable energy. But there are also liberalised energy markets that work better than others. It is certainly one factor, but it is neither the leading factor nor the least important.

Much more importantly, it is about political will. What we need in Indonesia is to have the political will to make that decisive turn to renewables, so that the monopoly government owned utility gets with the program. It is not going to do it of itself and on its own for precisely the reasons that you mentioned.

And from Vietnam, can we deduce that when given the right signals in terms of the adoption of renewables, that things can move very quickly?

Yes we can. All it took in Vietnam was political will and a determination to accelerate renewable energy deployment. Then, it happened, very fast, because renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner and preferred by local communities.

Author: Jonathan Gifford

Singapore, United Kingdom can collaborate closely on climate change, R&D for the future: DPM Heng

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat with British High Commissioner Kara Owen in Eden Hall on the occasion of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Image: Lianhe Zaobao

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Singapore and the United Kingdom do not just share a strong historical past, but have a lot in common when it comes to working together for a greener future, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (June 2).

Climate change is an area where there is “tremendous potential” for collaboration, such as in low-carbon solutions and decarbonising the energy grid, he said.

Both countries are accelerating cooperation to promote green finance and the development of international carbon markets, and Singapore is also working with the UK on a framework for green energy cooperation, he added.

DPM Heng also congratulated the UK for hosting a successful COP26 conference in Glasgow last November.

He was speaking on the occasion of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, where he congratulated Queen Elizabeth II for her reign over the past 70 years. She is the first British monarch to celebrate this milestone.

Also at the event in Eden Hall, the official residence of British High Commissioner Kara Owen, were former president Tony Tan, former British prime minister Tony Blair and Ms Owen.

In his speech, DPM Heng noted that Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in February 1952, when Singapore was still a British crown colony.

He also noted that both economies have become more intertwined, with the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement coming into force in February last year, and the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement signed earlier this year.

He added that Singapore is committed to support the UK’s accession into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Singapore and the UK are also close collaborators in the realm of innovation and research and development.

For instance, the Singapore-UK Bilateral Co-Innovation Programme aims to develop and fund projects between local and UK companies in areas such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food tech and cyber security.

DPM Heng noted that the UK is home to the largest overseas Singaporean community in Europe, and that the British community here is also the largest from Europe.

There are currently more than 5,700 UK companies in Singapore, and the British expatriate community in Singapore is about 40,000 strong.

The strong bilateral ties between the two countries are also manifested in the iconic heritage buildings and streets named after British places and figures. For instance, Singapore has its own Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street, and the bells on the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall’s clock tower chime the same tune as the Big Ben in London.

But the most important legacies are the constitutional, administrative and judicial systems that the British built, as well as the use of the English language, he said.

“More than five decades after Independence, these systems continue to be pillars of strength for Singapore even as we evolve them to suit our local context.”

Author: Cheryl Tan