Monday, November 17, 2008

Ubin to host testing site for 'green' energy

Alternative sources that will be test-bedded include solar, wind and biodiesel
Ronnie Lim, Business Times 8 Nov 08;

PULAU Ubin, a well-known adventure getaway for nature lovers, is going to be used as a test-bed for clean and renewable energy, including alternatives like solar, wind or biomass, to produce electricity for a cluster of homes and businesses there.

To kick off the project, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) has just called a tender for a consultancy study on this.

And depending on the study's outcome, it could be followed by development of actual infrastructure to create a micro-grid system - or small scale power supply network - on the island.

EMA's chief executive Khoo Chin Hean said: 'This project will create an oasis where clean and renewable energy technologies can be tested in an actual live environment.'

'At the same time, it can benefit the consumers in Pulau Ubin who currently rely on diesel generators by providing alternative sources of energy that are not only cleaner but are also cost competitive to diesel generators.'

EMA sees the project to transform part of Pulau Ubin into a model 'green' island as boosting Singapore's ambition to be a global test-bedding site for new energy technologies.

Currently, Ubin - off the north-east coast of Singapore - does not draw electricity supply from the main power grid, as it is not economical to lay power transmission cables from mainland Singapore due to Ubin's modest energy demand. There is also no centralised electricity supply system on the island.

All the 100 inhabitants on the 110 sq km island, including small businesses, run their own diesel- powered generators to generate electricity.

Giving more details about the study, EMA said that it will look into 'both the technical and commercial viability of the options proposed, while giving due consideration to economic, environmental and social costs and benefits'.

It listed a long list of potential technologies to be test-bedded, including solar, wind, marine, biomass (such as solid waste and algae), biodiesel and bioethanol, hydrogen and fuel cells, microturbine, the energy management system for the micro-grid, and substations.

EMA expects to award the tender for the consultancy this month, with the study to be completed by May next year.

The EMA tender comes as Singapore Energy Week drew to a close, with Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar earlier promoting the idea of how cities like Singapore can serve as clean technology and R&D hubs, by leveraging on their concentrations of technological and scientific talent as well as access to capital markets and funding.

The Republic has already attracted mega investors in solar cell manufacturing, new generation biodiesel production and also R&D in wind power.

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