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    Singapore to build backup power plant to boost energy resilience

    May 22, 2023 - Lynda Hong Senior, Singapore to build backup power plant to boost energy resilience


      Singapore is powering up efforts to strengthen its energy resilience, with the Energy Market Authority (EMA) building two open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) generation units.

      When operational in June 2025, they can each produce 340 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

      Natural gas will be the primary fuel, but diesel can also be a backup.

      EMA said these OCGTs can also take up to 30 per cent hydrogen and, with the necessary enhancements, run fully on hydrogen. Low-carbon hydrogen releases little to no greenhouse gas when burned, and was highlighted by EMA as a potential solution to help Singapore achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

      EMA added that this critical power infrastructure can be quickly tapped to augment any unforeseen shortfalls in power supply and minimise risks of disruptions.

      But even without power disruptions, current OCGTs have been supplying electricity during peak demand periods.

      At a ground-breaking ceremony for the two turbines on Jurong Island on Friday, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said: "During this hot spell that we have been facing, the existing OCGTs in the system have been supplying electricity regularly during the peak hours."

      He noted that while power plants with combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) are the most efficient thermal generation units available, they are unable to start up quickly when other CCGTs suffer technical issues and have to be shut down. They are also unable to respond quickly to changes in demand patterns.

      Typically, CCGTs cater to higher demand of 560MW between 8am and 2pm on average. But during the hottest months of the year, in May and July, demand can surge to 780MW, which is 220MW higher and is approximately half the capacity of a CCGT unit.

      Dr Tan noted that rather than start up additional CCGTs to meet these bursts of peak demand, it is more effective and efficient to start up OCGTs instead.

      This is because CCGTs take up to 14 hours to reach full generation output from a cold state, and once the turbine is started, it needs to run for at least six hours before it can be shut down.

      And once it is shut down, it needs at least six hours before it can be restarted.

      EMA added that the existing OCGTs are more than 30 years old and due for replacement.

      Meranti Power, a subsidiary of EMA, has appointed a consortium to build this power plant where the OCGTs will be located, as there is no commercial interest from the private sector to set up new OCGTs.

      Dr Tan noted: "This is because they are less competitive than CCGTs. Therefore, the Government has to step in, as a last resort, to provide the critical infrastructure needed to ensure the energy sector remains resilient and reliable."

      He added that the private sector will continue to play an important role to ensure sufficient capacity, citing upcoming CCGTs by Keppel and Sembcorp as examples of the critical role that privately owned generation companies play.

      Singapore's generation capacity in 2022 was 11.8GW, with a peak demand of 7.8GW. A buffer is typically needed to ensure there is sufficient electricity supply to meet demand and avoid the risk of blackouts.


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