Singapore faces the immense challenge of finding balance between the pursuit of economic growth and environmental sustainability, given the small city state’s dense population and lack of natural resources. How is Singapore addressing the impact brought about by megatrends of social development?
On 21 February 2017, Professor Chan Siew Hwa, Co-Director at the Energy Research Institute, and Professor at the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering, Nanyang Technological University discussed pressing global issues and how these are greatly affecting energy consumption, as well as the efforts to find more sustainable means of harnessing energy.
Prof Chan first talked about megatrends such as climate change, the increase in the world’s population and urbanisation. He highlighted that the overall impact of human activities on the physical environment is producing multiple environmental crisis never before witnessed in history, with megacities accounting for the majority of the world’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions despite only occupying 2 per cent of the Earth’s surface. However, the continuing rise in demand for energy has also brought about the megatrend of energy transition to counter climate change through introducing renewable energies.
Singapore is an example of a mega-city that has contributed a lot of carbon emissions considering its size. It is thus looking at sustainable means of reducing its emission intensity through increasing energy efficiency and sourcing for renewable energies despite its limitations in terms of natural resources. This includes building world-class urban solutions and infrastructure in six areas: clean energy, environment and water, security, infocommunications technology, urban mobility, and built environment and city management.
Prof Chan also spoke about two flagship R&D projects by ERI@N, the Nanyang Eco-Campus and Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator, Singapore (REIDS). These projects demonstrate synergies by various sectors and technologies to bring about sustainable solutions.
He then closed the lecture by addressing the audience’s questions which included the need for coordinated efforts by countries in the region to explore renewable energy.