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26 October 2022

Singapore among Asian countries shifting towards hydrogen

Lawrence Wong, the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, announced on the 25th of October that the city-state will be investing heavily in hydrogen as a major energy source that will cover for up to half the country’s power needs by 2050.

The sovereign island country, which spans 733.1 km2, used, before the pandemic, 70% oil and 26.5% natural gas in its energy mix with the other 3.5% or so of its power coming mostly from biofuels, waste and coal including a remarkably low 0.1% from renewables like solar.

The first step in this grand plan is for the Ministry of Trade and Industry to launch an expression of interest for a small-scale commercial project on using low-carbon ammonia for power generation.

Alongside domestic renewable sources and electricity imports, hydrogen will play a big role in the country’s efforts to decarbonize, claims Wong.

Earlier this year, we have already seen a tender set in place by the Singapore Government towards its neighboring states that would see 4GW worth of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal renewable energy come from the likes of Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand.

As a result of that, in June 2022 a two-year power purchase agreement was signed between Keppel Electric and Laos’ state-owned Electricite du Laos that will see Singapore import renewable energy from Laos through Thailand and Malaysia. The Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) will import up to 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable hydropower using existing interconnections, making it the first multilateral cross-border electricity trade involving four Asian countries.

Singapore has also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vietnam. The MoU signed between the two countries aims to start a collaboration that will see low-carbon energy technologies such as hydrogen and ammonia and their related infrastructures start being developed.

Wong doesn’t fail to recognize that Singapore is not part of a territory rich in renewable resources like hydro power and that the country lacks the required land for large scale wind or solar farms.

As identified by our own analysis titled Pipelines and Organic Carrier Ships to Dominate Hydrogen Distribution, energy sources like ammonia are an extremely viable option for such countries that relied so far on imports of ‘dirty’ energy carriers like oil and natural gas.

In spite of that Singapore has not failed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions so far. The country reduced its emissions by 32% below business-as-usual levels in 2020, double its earlier commitment of 16% made in 2009.

Wong also highlighted the sheer amount of global investment in hydrogen, the policies that begin to gain traction and the various electrolyzer technologies which are set to become commercially available in the coming years as big factors behind the country’s belief in the gas as a future viable energy source that can be scaled-up and allow Singapore to achieve its net zero emission target of 2045.

But Singapore is not the only country in Asia that is going down this path. Oman, a middle eastern country among other major oil producers that is generating almost all of its electricity needs from natural gas, has announced its target to produce 1 million tons of green hydrogen per annum (MTPA) by 2030.

The Ministry of Energy and Minerals estimates that 50,000 km2 of land is available for the country to produce 25 MTPA or 500GW of renewables.

The ministry’s plans include an electrolyzer capacity between 8 GW and 10GW powered by 16 GW to 20GW of renewable energy. All by 2030. The target will then increase to around 3.5 MTPA by 2040 from 40GW of electrolyzer capacity backed up by 70GW of renewable energy and finally 8 MTPA by 2050 with 100GW of electrolyzer capacity powered by 180GW of renewables.