Wow, finally the act is starting to gel… or is it? As with all things authority-related, I’ll adopt a wait-and-see view. But I do note another cosmic case of parallelism, chiefly the formation of a dedicated taskforce with a nerve centre. Exactly what our pet and homeless animals need vis-a-vis the current pet dog problem… will we see it only in our wildest dreams?
This story was printed from TODAYonline
Going clean and green
Wednesday • October 31, 2007
SINGAPORE’S famous penchant for efficiency is about to take on a green twist.
It could mean that any electricity-guzzling household appliances that do not meet certain standards could one day disappear from shop shelves here.
When you next shop for a car, it might come with a mandatory fuel economy label.
And that chilly office building you’re now working in could, from next year, be forced to meet certain environment-friendly standards.
From encouraging industrial investors to build energy-efficient features into their facilities, to launching a $50-million research programme to boost growth in the clean energy industry here, the Government yesterday emphasised its intention to make energy efficiency the way to go.
A taskforce has been set up to coordinate efforts on all fronts. Led by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Energy Efficiency Programme Office (E2PO) will comprise agencies representing the major sectors of energy use: Power generation, industries, transportation, buildings, and households.
“Energy efficiency is a practical approach to meeting our energy needs, while satisfying both our environmental and economic goals,” said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
This contribution by Singapore to tackling climate change is necessary, he said — ignoring the problem “will ultimately undermine economic growth”.
And going energy-efficient would not only cut down on the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, but also improve businesses’ cost competitiveness through less energy consumption, and curb reliance on imported fossil fuels as well.
The latest initiatives are in addition to a slew of other moves by the Government over the past year to promote energy efficiency.
Last month, it was announced in Parliament that all new buildings would have to meet the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark standards — which rates a building’s environmental impact and performance by looking at its energy and water efficiency, among other things — from next year.
This requirement, said Dr Yaacob yesterday, would now be extended to existing buildings with a gross floor area of more than 2,000 square metres.
Another possibility being studied is that of mandating fuel economy labelling for all passenger cars. This comes after it was announced in March that the Green Vehicle Rebate would be extended for another two years to 2009, to encourage Singaporeans to buy fuel-efficient hybrid cars.
The average consumer will also be waiting to see the results of the NEA’s study on possibly setting standards that will remove inefficient washing machines, irons and other such appliances from the market.
Already, the voluntary Energy Labelling Scheme has been made mandatory for certain appliances such as refrigerators and air-conditioners from this year.
“The electricity consumed by households in Singapore has increased 32 per cent over the last 10 years, even though the population grew by only 18 per cent,” noted Dr Yaacob.
Meanwhile, the E2PO will keep track of national progress towards becoming more energy efficient and facilitate the exchange of information across agencies.
For example, said Dr Yaacob, cogeneration and trigeneration technologies — systems that can generate a combination of electricity, heat or chilled water — are out there on the market, but currently “this information is not available somewhere centrally where agencies can tap”.
Also making up the E2PO are the BCA, the Energy Market Authority, the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Land Transport Authority, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
Professor Lee Siew Eang, head of the National University of Singapore’s Energy Sustainability Unit, said there has been a growing need for such a “nerve centre”.
Such a central database would help ensure policies are aligned, funding doesn’t overlap and there are no conflicts of interest that hinder results, he said.
And while Singapore’s push for energy efficiency should involve all levels, from industry to consumer, Prof Lee stressed that limited resources mean a need to prioritise – starting with areas that have the most energy wastage.
Announced separately by the EDB yesterday was the launch of the Clean Energy Research Programme. It comes under the Clean Energy Programme Office (Cepo), which was set up by the Government to coordinate research and development and the test-bedding of projects in clean energy.
Specifically, the research programme will have $50 million over the next five years to fund interdisciplinary and commercially-relevant research, and local and foreign organisations are encouraged to bid for such funding.
The Cepo will make two calls each year for proposals in specific areas, beginning with solar energy this Friday. Other focus areas that could come up in the future include fuel cells, wind and hydro-related systems.
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