CNA Explains: What’s low-carbon hydrogen and can it assist Singapore attain net-zero?

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Why does Singapore need to swap to hydrogen?

As a small, resource-constrained nation, Singapore has restricted renewable power choices to decarbonise its economic system.

Whereas the nation is aiming to deploy at the least 2 gigawatt-peak of photo voltaic power by 2030 – equal to powering about 350,000 households for a 12 months – this may solely meet a small fraction of its power calls for.

Based on statistics by the Vitality Market Authority, Singapore’s annual electrical energy consumption is about 50 terawatt hours (TWh).

On the Singapore Worldwide Vitality Week on Oct 25, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong stated that even when Singapore had been to maximise all its accessible areas for photo voltaic deployment, it could nonetheless not have the ability to generate sufficient electrical energy to maintain the lights on.

There are additionally limits to how a lot low-carbon electrical energy Singapore can import from the area. 

Nevertheless, with an exponential enhance in world investments and key applied sciences throughout the worth chain anticipated to turn out to be commercially accessible within the coming years, low-carbon hydrogen has emerged as a promising answer for Singapore.

Based on the Ministry of Commerce and Business, hydrogen might provide as much as half of the nation’s wants by 2050, relying on technological developments and the event of different power sources.

In addition to offering another for home emissions, low-carbon hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels can be used within the maritime and aviation sectors, each of that are carbon-intensive.

It can additionally complement and diversify the nation’s energy combine alongside photo voltaic, imported electrical energy, and different potential low-carbon power sources.

What are the challenges in hydrogen deployment?

Regardless of the optimism surrounding clear hydrogen, key uncertainties stay.

Producing hydrogen from low-carbon electrical energy is dearer than producing it from fossil fuels.

Based on a report from the Worldwide Vitality Company (IEA), inexperienced hydrogen prices greater than US$7 per kilogram on the larger finish. Compared, hydrogen produced from pure fuel and coal price beneath US$3 in 2019.

In depth infrastructure can be required to help a hydrogen economic system. Throughout his speech on the Singapore Worldwide Vitality Week, Mr Wong stated Singapore is more likely to want new storage and distribution infrastructure because it has totally different properties from pure fuel.

A examine commissioned by the Nationwide Local weather Change Secretariat, Singapore Financial Improvement Board and Vitality Market Authority estimated that the capital expenditure of establishing a brand new hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in Singapore may very well be US$364 million.

This may be a big venture carried out in phases over a number of years, the report stated.

To beat these challenges, Singapore is setting apart a further S$129 million to help hydrogen analysis and improvement. A major quantity of this can be directed in the direction of tasks that may assist the nation import, deal with and utilise hydrogen and its carriers safely and at scale. 

It can additionally examine the land and infrastructure necessities wanted to deploy low-carbon hydrogen in the long term.

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