Singapore is seeking further partnerships with other nations and industry to advance emerging low-carbon technologies, including hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS), as the government follows up on the findings from two respective feasibility studies.
"As an alternative energy disadvantaged country, we expect these [hydrogen and CCUS] technologies to play important roles in our transition to a low-carbon future,” said a governmental multi-agency statement.
“They will help us in our effort to meet our commitments and ambitions in climate action, as set out in our enhanced 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution and Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy, and the Singapore Green Plan 2030."
The ‘Study of Hydrogen Imports and Downstream Applications for Singapore’ was jointly commissioned by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Energy Market Authority (EMA), while the study on ‘Carbon Capture, Storage, and Utilisation: Decarbonisation Pathways for Singapore’s Energy and Chemicals Sectors’ was jointly commissioned by NCCS and EDB.
Pathways and barriers
The reports highlight pathways for low-carbon hydrogen and CCUS that could be relevant for Singapore and the barriers to deployment that would need to be overcome. Both studies were able to garner valuable stakeholder feedback from the industry and research community, noted the government agencies.
The studies found that hydrogen has the potential to diversify Singapore’s fuel mix towards low-carbon options for power generation, heavy transportation and some industrial processes.
Given the city state’s limited renewable energy resources, it is challenging for Singapore to produce green hydrogen at scale using domestic green electricity. As such, Singapore would need to explore various supply pathways for price-competitive low-carbon hydrogen.
While the hydrogen feasibility study has provided a useful analysis of the price points of the supply pathways for low-carbon hydrogen, there remains much global uncertainty over the trajectory of cost of deploying hydrogen technologies. The NCCS, EDB and EMA are studying the recommended pathways, including importing hydrogen via shipping, piping hydrogen from neighbouring countries and the domestic production of hydrogen – such as steam methane reforming with CCUS, electrolysis of water using imported renewable electricity, biomass gasification or through methane pyrolysis.
The government added it would continue to monitor developments in the market and work towards the most competitive options for Singapore.
Challenges limit large-scale deployment
It is believed low-carbon hydrogen has the potential to contribute greatly to the island nation’s decarbonisation efforts.
“However, technical and economic challenges, as well as the need for extensive infrastructural support (e.g. for hydrogen transportation, storage and utilisation) and new regulations to permit the use of hydrogen in new applications, currently limit large-scale deployment,” conceded the Singapore authorities.
The NCCS, EDB and EMA will continue to collaborate closely with industry and academic partners to undertake further technical assessment to enable the feasible deployment of low-carbon hydrogen in Singapore.
The second study identified carbon dioxide emissions, mainly from power plants and industrial facilities, that could be captured and stored in suitable sub-surface geological formations (CCS) or converted into useful products (CCU).
“For CCU, some of the more promising pathways include mineralisation — to use waste-based feedstock or natural minerals to produce aggregates for reclamation or structural and non-structural building use — and conversion to chemicals and synthetic fuels, such as kerosene and methanol, which have the potential to be used as fuel for aircraft and marine vessels,” said the government statement.
However, while the CCUS study identified significant potential for CCUS to reduce Singapore’s emissions in the long-term, near-term technical and economic challenges must be overcome for the large-scale deployment of such solutions.
The majority of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial and power plant facilities are dilute (3% to 15%). As such, substantial energy and costs are needed today to separate and concentrate CO2 from these dilute emissions sources. Further capture technology development and upscaling is needed to lower the energy and costs presently required.
Suitable geological formations sought
Singapore does not have any known suitable geological formations for the permanent storage of CO2 underground. It will therefore explore partnerships with companies and other countries with suitable geological formations for CO2 storage opportunities.
The findings from both feasibility studies will be used to inform existing research, development and demonstration efforts, such as the S$49 million (US$36.5 million) low carbon energy research funding initiative, and to guide private sector consortia such as those led by Keppel, Chiyoda and Itochu on the deployment of low carbon solutions and the hydrogen supply chain.
The Singapore government said it welcomes more such partnerships and opportunities to pilot new technologies in sectors including maritime, aviation, mobility, industry and power sectors.
Such collaborations could include joint contributions to international regulations, standards and certification on these emerging technologies, and participation in joint test beds and research, design and development.
To date, Singapore has signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia on low-emissions technologies and an MoU with Chile on low-carbon hydrogen and is actively in discussions with other like-minded countries.