Learn How Renewable Energy Is Shaping Singapore & What It Means For You!
Every day when we flip on a switch, we immediately enjoy the luxury of the lights coming on or the air-con filling the room with cool air, but how often do we take a moment to consider the source of this energy?
When it comes to the electricity that powers everything from our homes to shopping centres down at Orchard Road, we are still heavily reliant on traditional fossil fuels such as oil and gas that generates it, but a new wave of energy led by over three decades of global development and innovation is starting to take over.
Enter Green Energy
We have all heard ‘going green’ or ‘green energy’ but what does it really mean? When you adopt green energy or ‘go green’, you are opting for energy that comes from natural sources such as wind, sunlight, water and geothermal heat. Unlike fossil fuels which are finite resources, these sources of energy replenish naturally and have a much smaller impact or carbon footprint on the environment.
The 3 most common green energy sources:
Solar Powered – This is perhaps the most well-known and globally adopted alternative to fossil fuels. By using solar panels or photovoltaic cells, sunlight is captured and converted into electricity which can be used directly to heat and power the buildings they are on or to contribute electricity towards the national grid.
Wind Powered – While not an option for land-scarce Singapore, many countries like the Netherlands utilise wind turbines to harness the air flow to generate electricity. The windier it is, the more electricity generated!
Hydro Powered – Ever been to the Hoover dam in the USA? Magnificent dams hundreds of meters tall like the Hoover have been created to tap on the potential of moving water travelling from a higher altitude to a lower one, generating electricity in the process as they flow through the dam spinning the water turbines inside.
Going Green Globally
As the world becomes more conscious towards climate change, new and amazing inventions are being created by companies to turn everyday life greener and cleaner. Take electric cars for example, from BMW to Tesla, big corporations and entrepreneurs are creating green alternatives to our automobiles, allowing it to run 100% on electricity without a drop of fossil fuels used to power the engine. Talk about a drop in carbon emissions! Sweden, for example, is gearing up to become one of the world’s first nations to go 100% fossil fuel-free by 2040. In 2015, 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity came from renewable energy through a combination of solar, hydroelectric and wind energy and is on track to be entirely carbon-neutral (zero carbon footprint) by 2021. While China and United States still lead the world in the sheer amount of solar PV capacity installed, it is countries like Germany that meeting as much as 78% of their daily electricity demand from renewable energy!
Singapore Also Going Green – The Solar Way
Also innovating and progressing forward, Singapore also seeks to improve our energy security by means of renewable energy and nothing might be more attractive than solar power. With the fast-rising technology in PV cells, the Singapore Government is aggregating demand for solar energy across the public sector and also launching the world’s largest solar PV testbed at Tengeh reservoir.
What Does Going Green Mean For Us Consumers?
Currently, the majority of Singapore’s electricity is generated from natural gas which is still a form of fossil fuel, however as time progresses, we will be enjoying more cleaner forms of electricity. It is key to note that from 2019 onwards, there will be a $5 per tonne carbon tax implemented on businesses that facilities that produce more than 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. Such businesses include refineries and power stations. Our energy source comes from natural gas and the burning of it for electricity generation will produce greenhouse gases and generation companies will be taxed. While this tax will only begin in 2019, it is safe to say that the carbon tax will be passed on from the generators to the consumers (you and me).
In a recent report from the Straits Times quoting Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat:
“For households, the impact of the carbon tax will be small, at “about 1 percent of total electricity and gas expenses on average”, Mr Heng said. An additional U-Save rebate will be provided for three years to help HDB households. Eligible HDB households will each receive $20 more per year, from 2019 to 2021. This will cover the expected average increase in electricity and gas expenses arising from the carbon tax”
Currently, several electricity retailers including iSwitch have green plans that allow you as a consumer to opt-in for ‘CO2 offset’ where the companies will buy United Nations certified carbon credits to help offset your electricity use to become carbon-neutral.. This means you don’t have to own solar panels or a wind farm to go green.
Want to do your bit for the environment, the iSwitch2Green plan might be the right plan for you.