DPM Wong, India’s PM Modi discuss clean energy and fintech cooperation

(From left) Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, DPM Lawrence Wong, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

NEW DELHI, 20 Sep (The Straits Times) – Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed new areas of cooperation such as clean energy and fintech during a meeting in Indian capital city New Delhi on Monday.

Mr Modi was also briefed about the outcomes of the inaugural session of the India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable (ISMR), which was held last Saturday.

He conveyed his good wishes for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the people of Singapore, and expressed his hope that initiatives such as the ISMR “would help further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries”.

Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, is on a five-day visit to India aimed at expanding cooperation between the two countries.

“We had excellent discussions on new areas of cooperation such as green hydrogen, solar energy, fintech, as well as data links,” said Mr Wong on Facebook following Monday’s meeting, which was also attended by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India Nirmala Sitharaman.

“India is an important strategic partner of Singapore across many sectors. I am glad that the pace of bilateral engagements has picked up substantially as the pandemic subsides,” he added.

He also said he looked forward to restarting the Singapore-India Hackathon, which was disrupted by Covid-19, “to build bridges between our young talents”.

The hackathon was held in 2018 and then in 2019 with mixed teams of university students from both countries racing to create software solutions to real-life problems in areas such as education and clean energy.

India and Singapore share close economic and political ties, with regular high-level political exchanges that have picked up again with an exchange of visits in recent months.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was in India for the Special Asean-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in June, while Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, visited India in July.

The two sides held the 16th Foreign Office Consultations in Singapore in August.

Mr Wong, Dr Balakrishnan, Mr Gan, and Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran formed the Singapore ministerial delegation at Saturday’s ISMR.

The Indian side included Ms Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

Economic ties between the two countries have been guided by the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in 2005.

In 2021, annual bilateral trade in goods stood at $26.8 billion. Singapore was the top source of foreign direct investment into India in the financial year 2021-22, accounting for 27 per cent of the country’s record-high US$83.5 billion (S$117.6 billion) inflow.

During his ongoing visit to India, Mr Wong met both federal and state leaders.

On Sunday, he met Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel.

In a speech in Gujarat state on Sunday, Mr Wong highlighted the close ties between the two countries and the potential of cooperation in newer emerging areas such as fintech amid India’s growing digital economy.

“Singapore has long believed in the potential and promise of India,” he said on Sunday

“That is why we have been investing in India. Over the last 20 years, our investments in India have grown by about 20 times,” he said.

Author: Nirmala Ganapathy, India Bureau Chief

World’s largest underground hydrogen storage project

Image: Mitsubishi Power

Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development are set to begin construction on a 300 GWh underground storage facility in the US state of Utah. It will consist of two caverns with capacities of 150 GWh, to store hydrogen generated by an adjacent 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant.

From pv magazine

Aces Delta, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development LLC, plans to build an underground storage project with a capacity of 300 GWh in Delta, Utah.

Advanced Clean Energy Storage I, LLC recently won a $504.4 million loan guarantee from US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office for the construction of the storage facility. The project will store hydrogen generated by the Intermountain Power Agency’s IPP Renewed Project – an 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant located in the area.

“The plant will initially run on a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas starting in 2025 and incrementally expand to 100% green hydrogen by 2045,” Aces Delta said in a statement.

US-based contractor WSP USA has secured an engineering, procurement and construction management contract (EPCM) to build the two underground hydrogen storage caverns, each with a capacity of 150 GWh.

“This stored green hydrogen becomes an energy reserve that can be released to produce fuel for electric power generation at any time,” said WSP USA.

The storage caverns and the power plant will form the Advanced Clean Energy Storage hub, which Aces Delta says will convert renewable energy via 220 MW of electrolyzers to produce up to 100 metric tons of green hydrogen per day. The development of the project began in May 2019.

“Central Utah is the ideal location for this project, and Utah is a business-friendly state for projects like this,” said Craig Broussard, CEO of Magnum. “Magnum’s site adjacent to the Intermountain Power Project is positioned to take full advantage of existing regional electricity grid connections, fully developed transportation infrastructure, ample solar and wind development capacity, a skilled workforce currently transitioning away from coal, and, of course, the unique salt dome opportunity.”

Magnum Development also owns a domal-quality salt formation in the western United States and five operational salt caverns for liquid fuel storage.


Storing renewables in soil mounds via water balloons

Image: Aahrus University

Scientists in Denmark have developed a storage technology that utilizes large underground water balloons and the pressure of the soil to activate a turbine to generate power. They are currently building a first 10 m x 10 m demonstrator to select critical technologies related to the membrane and to the construction of the “movable hill” that will form the terrain part of the battery.

From pv magazine

Researchers from the Aarhus University in Denmark have conceived an energy storage technology to store large amounts of power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

The scientists said the new technology is similar to pumped-hydro storage, as it uses water as a storage medium and responds to the same basic mechanism, but explained that it can be used in a flat country such as Denmark, where no hydropower plants have ever been built. The new tech uses surplus power from wind and photovoltaics to pump water from a reservoir into giant underground water balloons.

According to AquaNamic, which is a Danish startup partnering on the project, a full-scale balloon may reach a size of 330 m x 330 m and, when buried under thousands of cubic meters of soil, can be raised up to 14 meters when the balloon is filled up with water in the charging phase. This balloon would reportedly have a storage capacity of 230 MWh. In the discharging phase, a valve opens and the pressure of the soil pushes the water out of the balloon and through a turbine to generate power. According to the scientists, this system has an efficiency of around 85%, which they say is in line with most pumped-hydro stations.

AquaNamic and the Aarhus University are currently planning to build a 10 m x 10 m demonstrator and have secured DKK 4.9 million ($674.147) from the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program. “We’re about to begin analyzing, designing and testing selected critical technologies related to the membrane and to the construction of the ‘movable hill’ that will form the terrain part of the battery,” said researcher Kenny Sørensen. “Naturally, we’ll have a strong focus on abrasion testing for the membrane, and we’ll need to develop a specially designed test rig to carry out lifetime tests for representative membrane solutions.”

One of the crucial aspects of the demonstrator will be assessing the extent of possible energy losses. “We want to retain as much energy in the system as possible, and this is a complex process with such a large system, which in principle will fill up every night, when the turbines are spinning and the world is sleeping, and then empty every day, when the energy is needed,” Sørensen further explained. “But every time the soil moves, the system is deformed, and these deformations contribute to the energy loss. They’re called plastic deformations. Our job is to optimize the system, using advanced calculation models.”

The new technology is also being developed in partnership with Danish wind energy giant Vestas and renewable energy developer European Energy.


Solar tree-based photovoltaic plants for mountainous areas

Solar tree installed around the space used as farmland. Image: Korea Maritime Institute, scientific reports, Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0

Scientists in land-scarce Korea are proposing to use solar trees to build PV installations in forest areas. Although more expensive than conventional ground-mounted facilities, solar plants made of solar trees may capture carbon from forest land and produce energy at the same time.

From pv magazine

Researchers from the Korea Maritime Institute have proposed the use of solar trees to build photovoltaic plants in mountainous forest areas in land-scarce South Korea.

They defined the new concept as forest-photovoltaic and explained that it would both maintain carbon absorption activities under the solar trees and produce solar power on the upper part of forest land.

“Compared to a general flat fixed panel, the solar tree has a higher structure and a stronger support base, increasing construction costs,” they explained. “As the demand for solar trees increases due to the development of new technology, more companies enter the market. Therefore, it is expected that solar trees can be installed at a cost that can compete with the current flat fixed panel in the not-too-distant future.”

Using Google Earth satellite imagery, the Korean group assessed the concept’s operational potential by simulating solar tree installations in a mountainous area at 400 meters above sea level, where there is an operating agrivoltaic plant relying on solar trackers. “The solar power plant was constructed by cutting a mountainous ridge available in the highly elevated plateau into flat land,” they explained. “The solar panels installed on the 3-meter-high structure made a space for farming in the ground. One kind of ginseng, mountain garlic, is being grown in the space at the bottom of solar power facilities.”

The academics used Google Earth 3D to reflect solar tree size and the distance between the trees. As a reference, they considered a 4.8 m × 4.1 m panel with a rated power of 1.2 kW developed by Korea-based module manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells. “The slope distance was measured using the built-in elevation path measurement function in Google Earth Pro to arrange the solar tree at 100 m intervals in the three-dimensional image,” they specified. “The forest area, solar panel, and open space were calculated using the polygon measurement function provided by Google Earth Pro to quantitatively evaluate changes in mountain landscape before and after solar tree installation.”

The researchers performed their analysis with criteria developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) for agrivoltaic projects. One of the important factors they considered is the distance between the solar trees, which is crucial for determining their impact on the surrounding natural environment. They ascertained that, if the trees are installed according to the scale of the 3D image, a considerable number of solar trees could be deployed throughout the 1,100,872-square-meter study area. If too many solar trees are placed in a limited space, however, the solar trees displayed as too small in size, causing significant limitations in terms of visual effect, they noted.

Despite their higher costs compared to conventional PV installations, solar trees may have a strategic advantage as they occupy a much lower amount of land. “The land purchase cost is the most important parameter in calculating LCOE on the solar power plant in South Korea,” the research team said. “Compared to other countries, South Korea ranks third in the world in terms of land price. So, purchasing the land is much higher than the money required to build a solar power plant.” On the other hand, in the South Korean Energy Agency’s most recent renewables auction, the final average price was KRW 143.120 per kWh ($0.11), which shows prices quite above the average prices seen in the world’s largest and most mature solar markets.

“The solar tree has not been popularized yet, so the forest-photovoltaic field has many problems to be solved and is only in its infancy,” the scientists admitted, noting that most major module manufacturers haven’t entered the business yet. “The procedure for the solar tree to be commercialized has to deal with different international standardization and regulation schemes.”

They introduced their concept in the study “Exploring the operational potential of the forest-photovoltaic utilizing the simulated solar tree,” published in scientific reports. “A follow-up study is needed to initiate legally binding international standards for solar trees’ wind and snow load operation,” they concluded.


New tech to produce hydrogen from tap water

The hydrogen is consumed on-site. Image: J. A. G. I.

A Spanish scientist has developed a system that reportedly produces hydrogen on-site without expensive electrolysis.

From pv magazine

Spanish scientist José Antonio G. I.  has developed a system that is able to generate and store hydrogen on-site from tap water without electrolysis.

“Until now, the most common way to produce hydrogen is by electrolysis. However, this process implies a significant electrical consumption that makes it not interesting from an economic point of view,” he told pv magazine.

The prototype consists of a water tank that is initially filled with water and two more chemical elements that the researcher doesn’t want to reveal. Hydrogen production begins when a 20 W compressor discharges pressurized air in the lower part of the tank.

“It is the air that causes the reaction between the different chemical components and generates hydrogen,” the scientist explained. “Then, the generated hydrogen leaves through the upper area of ​​the tank to be introduced into an equally pressurized tank. The water in this second tank collects the possible impurities and hydrogen comes out through the upper part of the tank.”

After the hydrogen is purified, it flows via an upper conduit to another tank equipped with closed contacts, a safety valve and an outlet pipe assisted by a solenoid valve.

“Currently, we are developing a model with a 220-liter tank that can work with a pressure of 1 kg/cm2 and a flow rate of 30 liters per minute,” González Ibáñez went on to say. “This can generate heating, hot water and electricity for a household or a small business.”

The group is also designing a larger model that can work with a pressure of 750 Kg/cm2 and can reportedly supply a thermal power plant or a container ship.

“Hydrogen is produced at the place of consumption, so transportation disappears, it only needs a water tap,” the scientist emphasized. “The system is capable of generating the energy equivalent to a liter of gasoline –30 Mjoules or 8.333333 kW– for €0.0151515 ($0.0153749).”


Canyon Solar unveils scalable shade solution for commercial applications

Cayon Solar’s prefabricated system can can be deployed in series. Image: Canyon Solar

Australian renewable energy start-up Canyon Solar has unveiled a prefabricated solar PV shade structure for commercial carpark applications that it claims can be installed at least three times faster than traditional systems and outcompetes rooftop solar PV on a dollar-per-watt basis.

From pv magazine Australia

Sydney-based manufacturer Canyon Solar has launched a modular solar carport solution for commercial applications that has been specifically designed for rapid installation with company director Will Beaumont claiming the time-saving translates into a significant reduction in site labor requirements and a corresponding cost saving for clients.

“We found with the second prototype that we just finished installing in the Southern Highlands that we’re cracking three times faster installation compared with an in-situ system,” he said. “If you’re deploying it three times faster than an in-situ installation, there is quite a good labor saving in there which we are passing on to the client.

“The labor component is typically 40% of the turnkey costs of the system so it translates to about a 20% cost saving on labor.”

Canyon’s modular solar shade structure is built around individual pods, each measuring 7.5 m long and 2. 6m wide with two pods combined to create a single unit that covers three car park bays. The units can be deployed in series to give shelter to hundreds of vehicles, the manufacturer said.

Each individual pod houses six 660 W bifacial panels from Canadian Solar coupled with multi-string inverters from Sungrow but the structure is designed to easily incorporate components from other manufacturers. The waterproof system can be grid-connected, linked to storage and seamlessly integrates with electric vehicle charging hardware.

The pods and steel support structures are pre-assembled in the factory and delivered to the site where the pods are lifted into place atop the prefabricated columns and rafters. Final electrical connections are completed before the system is commissioned.

“Basically 80% of the work is done before arriving at the site,” Beaumont said. “All the modules on the pods are already installed, they’re wired, the waterproofing system is actually incorporated into the module mounting system so that is already done as well.

“The idea is when you go to install it, all you’re doing is erecting the columns and the rafters are attached to that. You are then basically just using a forklift or a telehandler to lift the pods into place and finishing off the final connections.”

Beaumont, who established Canyon Solar after time spent with C&I solar heavyweight Solgen Energy, said the modular shade structures provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional cloth or membrane-based shade structures and rooftop solar PV installs.

“If you’re trying to sell solar just on solar, carport systems don’t make sense because there’s a lot of extra costs in terms of the foundations, the support structure, all those components,” he said. “But when you look at what a traditional shade cloth costs and what rooftop solar PV costs, which is usually AUD 1.20 ($0.82) per W, when you combine those two budgets, our solar shade structure actually costs less.

“When you subtract what a normal shade structure will cost, our effective solar cost is usually between AUD 1.10 and AUD 1.20 per W. If you are already considering putting shade in the car park, solar shade is actually better than rooftop solar in many cases. And that is from a dollar-per-watt perspective.”

Canyon Solar is yet to secure its first commercial project but Beaumont said the company is in negotiations with “a number of shopping centers and universities” with the first of the installations expected to be completed before the end of the year.

“I’m very optimistic that modular solar shade structures will become a big part of the future solar industry,” he said. “We’ve now hit the point where it is commercially better to install a solar shade structure than a traditional membrane-based shade cloth in most commercial carparks.”


Solar-plus-storage for islands

A solar-plus-storage facility in Pulau Mesa, an island in East Nusa Tenggara. Image: Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesian remote islands are increasingly resorting to solar-plus-storage to cover most of their electricity demand. According to new research from LUT University, combining PV with batteries may help islands to cover around 60% of demand with renewable energy.

From pv magazine

Indonesia‘s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resource has provided an update on the program run by state-owned utility PT PLN (Persero) to deploy solar-plus-storage plants across remote islands in the country.

According to the ministry, solar facilities totaling 5.3 MW and connected to an unspecified number of storage systems have been deployed across 17 islands to date. These include Palue (760 kW), Messah (530 kW), Gunung 490 (kW), Golo Lebo (440 kW), Parumaan (420 kW), Papagarang (380 kW), Nuca Molas (380 kW), Wontong (320 kW), Nangabere (270 kW), Mbakung (260 kW), Kebirangga Selatan (200 kW), Ranakulan (190 kW), Seraya 190 (kW), Kakasewa 140 (kW), Batu Tiga (120 kW), Legur Lai (150 kW), and Kalelu (100 kW).

The facility installed in Messah, an island in the country’s southernmost province of East Nusa Tenggara, was built in 2019 and provides power to 467 customers, including households, businesses, and public entities, the ministry explained. The PV system has a capacity of 530 kW and relies on five bidirectional inverters, 27 inverters, and 590 batteries.

According to recent research from the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, the combination of solar and storage may help remote islands have a 60% share of renewables in their electricity mix.

In the paper “A review of 100% renewable energy scenarios on islands,” published in WIREs Energy and Management, the research group provides a holistic view of energy system studies for islands aiming at 100% renewable energy penetration and reviews all existing literature, including 97 scientific papers. “Detailed information on actions used on-demand as well as on supply-side are delivered,” it specifies. “In this context, there is no limitation regarding single technologies, energy system sectors, regions, or size of islands.”

According to the scientists, balancing the high variability of wind and solar resources via more dispatchable renewable energy technologies such as biomass and biofuels or storage will be crucial for realizing the 100% renewables target. “Further technologies providing the remaining required electricity are hydropower plants and pumped hydro storage, solid waste plans, and bioethanol plants,” they point out, noting that solar and wind may also be used to produce hydrogen for use on the islands themselves. “Bioethanol capacities have a crucial role in supply reliability and provide power in short periods of very low solar, wind, and biomass availability.”

After reviewing the existing research, the LTU researchers concluded that the target of powering islands with 100% renewable energy is technically feasible and economically viable. “This has been shown for several small islands as well as for large island states, independent of their geographic location,” they stated. “The role of electricity will become that of a primary energy source and the electricity sector is the backbone of any smart energy system.”

According to their findings, a 30% renewable share may become possible by building capacity and infrastructure while, for a 60% share, storage deployment will be crucial.  Furthermore, sector coupling will be the final step to achieving a 100% target. “We found that there is still not the same common sense on multi-sectoral approaches for islands as it could also be found for energy systems transition in general. Full sector coupling studies are not yet the standard for 100% renewables islands, and a detailed industry sector inclusion is fully missing for islands,” they concluded.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Measures to boost energy security helped reduce prices in wholesale market: Gan Kim Yong

The average Uniform Singapore Energy Price in Q2 of this year is lower than in Q4 of 2021, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong. ST Photo/Ariffin Jamar

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Measures taken by regulator Energy Market Authority (EMA) to boost Singapore’s energy security since October 2021 have helped to push down the wholesale electricity price, which changes every half hour.

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Monday (July 4) that the average Uniform Singapore Energy Price – which refers to the half-hourly energy price in the Singapore wholesale electricity market – in the second quarter of 2022 was about $300 per megawatt hour (MWh).

This works out to be about 30 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh)

This is down from the average price of $440/MWh (or 44 cents/KWh) in the fourth quarter of 2021, the period when global energy prices started to spike due to growing demand for energy for heating in the cooler months, and ramped up economic recovery.

Figures from EMA’s website showed that the average half-hourly energy price for the third quarter of 2021 was about $153.07/ MWh (or 15.3 cents/kWh).

In October last year (2021), EMA said it would take steps to boost the country’s energy security amid the global supply crunch.

This includes the establishment of a standby liquified natural gas facility, which is essentially a stockpile of the fuel, that generation companies (gencos) can draw from to generate electricity in the event of disruptions to their natural gas supplies.

“We also required gencos to bolster their own stockpile of fuel and empowered EMA to direct the gencos to generate electricity using gas from the (facility) if there are potential shortages,”Mr Gan said.

He was responding to Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC), who wanted to know how Singapore was ensuring the reliability and affordability of its electricity supply.

It is mainly the large electricity users in Singapore, such as shopping malls and manufacturing facilities, that are affected by the fluctuations in the wholesale market.

Currently, such users, which have an average monthly consumption of at least 4,000kWh – about 10 times the average monthly consumption of a four-room Housing Board flat, can only buy electricity from retailers, or from the wholesale market – where electricity prices fluctuate every half-hour.

But the volatile gas and electricity prices, and risk of piped natural gas disruptions, had limited the retailers’ ability to offer fixed price contracts. A number of independent electricity retailers have also exited the market since the global energy crunch.

Households, however, are cushioned from this as they have the option of buying electricity from grid operator SP Group at the regulated tariff, which is currently at 32.28 cents per kWh including the goods and services tax.

To cushion the impact of the fluctuations in the wholesale market to large electricity users, EMA in December 2021 introduced the Temporary Electricity Contracting Support Scheme, which allows businesses to buy electricity at fixed prices.

“For businesses who want greater certainty, EMA has been working with electricity retailers and gencos since January 2022 to offer longer-term fixed price plans of up to three years,” Mr Gan added.

With the global energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EMA has extended these measures until March 31 next year (2023), Mr Gan said.

But while the authorities will continue to monitor the situation and consider if further extensions or measures are needed, Mr Gan said companies should become more energy efficient to manage business costs.

Companies can monitor their half-hourly electricity usage on the SP Utilities Portal or Open Electricity Market e-services portal to manage and reduce their electricity consumption, Dr Tan said, or tap on the various support measures to enhance their energy efficiency.

This includes the recently announced Energy Efficiency Grant for the food manufacturing, food services, and retail sectors; the National Environment Agency’s Energy Efficiency Fund, the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Incentive Scheme and EnterpriseSG’s Enterprise Sustainability Programme.

“Businesses which need financing support can also tap on EnterpriseSG’s programmes such as the Enterprise Financing Scheme and the Temporary Bridging Loan. The Small Business Recovery Grant will also help eligible firms in sectors most badly affected by Covid-19 cope with overall higher costs of doing business,” Mr Gan said.

Malaysia’s ban doesn’t affect import of renewables from Laos

Separately, Mr Dennis Tan (Hougang) asked if Malaysia’s ban on renewable energy exports will prevent Singapore from importing renewable energy from other countries in the region.

Mr Gan said it would not. He said Malaysia’s decision to disallow the export of renewable energy to Singapore does not extend to the passage of electricity from other countries, through Malaysia, to Singapore.

The Republic on June 23 began importing renewable energy from Laos via Thailand and Malaysia – a move that marks the first multilateral cross-border electricity trade involving four Asean countries and the first renewable energy import into Singapore.

Up to 100 megawatts (MW) of hydropower from Laos will be brought into Singapore using existing interconnectors under the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project – an intergovernmental project set up in 2014 to study the feasibility of cross-border power trade.

The 100MW account for about 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s peak electricity demand in 2020 and could power around 144,000 four-room Housing Board flats for a year.

“Malaysia and Singapore have been working closely at bilateral and multilateral platforms on our decarbonisation efforts,” Mr Gan said.

“There is significant benefit for all countries involved, as cross-border electricity trade will encourage investments in renewable energy production as it can serve a broader regional market.”

Mr Gan said Singapore is having collaborative discussions with regional and global partners, including Malaysia, to advance mutual and collective interests.

Author: Audrey Tan

Singapore eyes green hydrogen as energy source with $25m institute

Professor Liu Bin (second from right), Director of the NUS Centre for Hydrogen Innovations, with principal investigators (from left) Associate Professor Yan Ning, Assistant Professor Lum Yanwei and Assistant Professor Wang Lei. Image: NUS

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – A new $25 million research institute aimed at making green hydrogen a commercially viable clean fuel to power Singapore’s needs was launched last Friday (July 1) as the Republic moves to decarbonise its energy sector.

The National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Hydrogen Innovations will help create breakthrough technologies that will make hydrogen a viable green energy source.

Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, said that both the new centre as well as NUS’ Green Energy Programme – which focuses on carbon capture and utilisation technologies – are part of the university’s strategy of coming up with innovative ways to reduce Singapore’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The centre, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, has received a total investment of $25 million, of which $15 million is an endowment gift from government investment firm Temasek.

Led by Professor Liu Bin, who also established the NUS Green Energy Programme, the centre will be “taking a holistic approach” in tackling both the technological and infrastructural challenges of creating a competitive hydrogen economy.

Low carbon hydrogen imports have also been identified as a viable way forward in bringing the power sector – which now produces 40 per cent of the country’s emissions – to net zero by 2050, according to the Energy 2050 Committee report, which was released in March.

In the first phase, the centre will primarily focus on hydrogen carriers for storage and transport – a fairly nascent area of research – as well as the global supply chain for hydrogen.

“While hydrogen can be imported through pipelines, this can only be done for short distances from countries like Malaysia. Liquefied hydrogen is very energy-intensive and would require investments in new infrastructure,” Prof Liu told The Straits Times.

Another method would be to convert hydrogen into a liquid chemical carrier that can be transported at room temperature using existing infrastructure. But more research is needed to extract hydrogen from its carrier.

Aside from looking into transporting hydrogen, the centre is also gearing up to produce hydrogen locally, to safeguard Singapore’s energy security in the event of supply chain disruptions.

Hydrogen can be produced through the electrolysis of water, separating it into hydrogen and oxygen, as well as methane pyrolysis – a process which splits natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon.

But in order to be considered a green fuel, both processes must be powered by renewable energy such as solar.

To accelerate the use of green hydrogen as a fuel for sectors such as transport and electricity, the centre will be working closely with industrial players in these areas.

It will also create a talent pipeline such that workers can contribute to different components of the hydrogen economy.

These training programmes range from degree programmes to short courses which target undergraduates to adult learners and industry leaders.

To enable the safe adoption of these novel hydrogen technologies, the centre will collaborate with NUS to work with policymakers and national agencies to come up with safety regulations, risk assessments and policies targeting these issues.

So far, nine projects in hydrogen research will be funded by the centre, each receiving up to $250,000.

Temasek’s head of Strategic Development Russell Tham said it is pleased to support the centre to accelerate its research and development efforts and develop talent for the hydrogen economy.

A board comprising leaders from the academic, government and corporate sectors in Singapore and overseas will be co-chaired by Prof Ho and Mr Tham to provide strategic direction and stewardship for the new centre.

Dr Victor Nian, chief executive of the Centre for Strategic Energy and Resources, an independent think-tank which is headquartered in Singapore, said that while the NUS centre is striving to make an impact in accelerating the creation of a global hydrogen economy, industries will also have to build strategic partnerships along the value chain, especially for building an ecosystem from hydrogen supply to demand among countries.

The Government would also have a role in accelerating the adoption of hydrogen for downstream applications, he added.

Author: Cheryl Tan

AEMO reveals new roadmap for rapid switch to renewables

Work has already commenced on the Victoria-NSW Interconnector (VNI) Upgrade project. Image: Transgrid

The Australian Energy Market Operator has declared approximately $12.7 billion of investment in new transmission lines should begin “as urgently as possible” to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and energy storage, replace exiting coal-fired power plants, and deliver a more efficient and effective grid in eastern and south-eastern Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has today published the final version of its 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP), outlining a 30-year roadmap of investments for what it said is “a true transformation” of the National Electricity Market (NEM), from fossil fuels to firmed renewables.

AEMO said the 104-page document, developed with involvement from more than 1,500 NEM stakeholders, calls for levels of investment in generation, storage, transmission and system services that exceed all previous efforts combined.

“Australia is experiencing a complex, rapid and irreversible energy transformation,” AEMO chief executive officer Daniel Westerman said in a statement.

“The 2022 ISP informs Australia’s energy transformation, based on an optimal development path (ODP) of essential transmission investments that will efficiently enable low-cost, firmed renewable energy to replace exiting coal generation.”

Australia’s traditional fossil-fuel fired generators are being replaced by consumer-led distributed energy resources (DER), utility-scale renewable energy, and new forms of dispatchable resources to firm those renewables but AEMO said it is critical the NEM provide the power system assets and services to ensure these resources are efficient, safe, reliable and secure.

The market operator estimates at least 10,000 kilometres of new transmission is required to connect a nine-fold expansion of wind and solar farm capacity and a near five-fold increase in distributed solar by 2050 and to treble the firming capacity from alternative sources to coal, including utility-scale batteries, hydro storage, gas-fired generation, and smart behind-the-meter virtual power plants (VPPs).

Five transmission projects across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have been highlighted as top priorities with AEMO saying they should progress as urgently as possible. The five projects – HumeLink, VNI West, Marinus Link, Sydney Ring and New England REZ Transmission Link – are all currently being assessed for regulatory approval or should begin that process soon.

The five priority projects are in addition to another seven transmission links, including Project EnergyConnect and the Victoria-NSW Interconnector Minor upgrade, already under development.

Map of the network projects in the optimal development path. Image: AEMO

Westerman said the five priority projects would optimise benefits for all who produce, consume and transport electricity in the market; and provide investment certainty.

“These transmission projects are forecast to deliver $28 billion in net market benefits, returning 2.2 times their cost of $12.7 billion, which represents just 7% of the total generation, storage and network investment in the NEM,” he said.

As part of developing the ISP, AEMO and stakeholders identified the most likely future for the NEM, having considered ageing generation plants, technical innovation, economics, government policies, energy security and consumer choice.

The ISP indicates the NEM must triple its overall generation and storage capacity by 2050 if it is to meet the economy’s electricity needs in the ‘step change’ scenario.

“The step change scenario forecasts annual electricity consumption from the grid will double by 2050, as transport, heating, cooking and industrial processes are electrified and 60% of current coal generation exiting by 2030,” Westerman said.

“To maintain a secure, reliable and affordable electricity supply for consumers through this transition to 2050, investment is required for a nine-fold increase in grid-scale wind and solar capacity, triple the firming capacity (dispatchable storage, hydro and gas-fired generation) and a near five-fold increase in distributed solar.”

Today the NEM installed capacity of nearly 60 GW delivers approximately 180 TWh of electricity to industry and homes per year. In Step Change, utility-scale generation and storage capacity would need to grow to 173 GW and deliver 320 TWh per year to customers by 2050 to serve the electrification of our transport, industry, office and homes.

The ISP forecasts that variable renewable energy (VRE) capacity will increase from 16 GW currently to 141 GW by 2050. Additionally, distributed PV is forecast to increase from 15 GW to 69 GW over the same period. To firm that VRE and distributed PV, 63 GW of firm dispatchable capacity and additional power system security services will be needed by 2050.

Forecast NEM capacity to 2050, Step Change scenario. Image: AEMO

AEMO also expects that coal-fired generation will continue to withdraw faster than announced, with 60% of the eastern seaboard’s coal fleet to expire by 2030.

“Competition, climate change and operational pressures will intensify with the ever-increasing penetration of firmed renewable generation,” it said. “Current announcements by thermal plant owners suggest that about 8 GW of the current 23 GW of coal-fired generation capacity will withdraw by 2030. In the step change scenario, ISP modelling suggests that 14 GW would withdraw by 2030.”

Westerman said the need to cost-effectively deliver the investment in firmed renewables has gathered momentum in recent months.

“We’ve recently seen market dynamics exhibiting the step change scenario, including accelerated coal-fired power station closures. In addition, generation unavailability and high commodity prices further highlight the need to invest in the transmission plan outlined in the ISP to support firmed renewables,” he said.

“The ISP will help industry participants, investors, governments and communities plan for the decarbonisation of the power system to deliver low-cost, firmed renewable electricity with reliability and security.

“Importantly, the ISP will help meet state and national climate targets, and contribute to economic growth through low-cost, reliable energy.”

Author: David Carroll