“If we stay the same way, there will be no more SP,” the CEO of Singapore’s government-linked utility company, SP Group, recently said.

Wong Kim Yin was speaking after launching the world’s first smart grid index last month to benchmark itself against utility companies across the world. While Singapore performed well on reliability, it scored 50% overall – ranking behind the US, Portugal, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. The study used publicly available data to analyse 45 utility companies across 30 countries, including on supply reliability, monitoring and control, data analytics, green energy, cyber security and customer satisfaction.

It shows that the company needs to constantly innovate. This becomes even more crucial as the government this month deregulated Singapore’s electricity market, allowing other companies to supply power to houses and businesses for the first time.

We look at Singapore’s plans for a blockchain-based renewable energy marketplace; a new energy-efficient, tech-driven business district; and climate change policies.

Renewable energy marketplace

SP Group last month launched the world’s first blockchain-powered renewable energy certificate (REC) marketplace. Companies or consumers can buy these certificates and renewable energy providers use the funding to generate power. This way, they can achieve sustainability targets and run greener businesses.

Several renewable energy providers have already signed up to sell these certificates on SP Group’s marketplace. Buyers are automatically matched with sellers around the globe, according to their preferences. This strengthens cross-border sustainability efforts, while keeping all transactions transparent and secure.

DBS Bank was one of the first few certificate buyers on the newly-launched marketplace. “SP Group’s blockchain REC platform will make it more economically effective for organisations, and will catalyse the transition towards a low carbon economy,” said Mike Power, Chief Operating Officer of Technology and Operations at DBS Bank in a statement.

Green digital district

Businesses in Singapore’s upcoming tech-driven business district, Punggol Digital District, will soon have more options to harness renewable energy. SP Group has signed an agreement with JTC, a developer, to install a smart grid. Companies will be able to use solar energy generated from roofs, charge their electric cars, and use smart metering to monitor their energy use.

The smart grid could help reduce up to 1,700 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, equivalent to taking 270 cars off the road. “Beyond utilities and technologies, it is about giving the community the data and tools to make informed decisions about their energy consumption,” JTC’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer, David Tan, has said.

The grid will be connected to building management and cooling systems, which will help optimise energy use. For instance, on a hot, sunny day, people naturally use more air-conditioning, and the smart grid will detect this and automatically activate the building management system to lower the blinds in rooms which are hotter.

Tackling climate change

Singapore faces unique challenges in adopting more sustainable practices. Its geographical features limit access to geothermal resources, hydroelectricity, wind, tidal and wave power, Cheah Sin Liang, Singapore’s Lead Coordinator for Climate Negotiations, told GovInsider. He coordinates the efforts of Singapore’s inter-agency negotiations team to work towards a more sustainable country.

Cheah has a vision for a more sustainable Singapore, and one key facet is greater energy and carbon efficiency. “Given our limited land space for solar deployment, we have even started to pilot floating solar panel installations on water surfaces at our reservoirs,” he added. The country prices energy “at market cost, without any subsidy” to help promote prudent use of resources, he continues.

The Singapore government has put in place the Energy Conservation Act in 2013 that requires all energy-intensive companies to appoint sustainability managers and to develop basic energy management practices. “By 2030, we are aiming to green at least 80% of Singapore’s buildings”, mostly powered by solar, said Cheah.

Cutting cars on the road will also play a crucial role. “We have set a goal for 75% of the peak journeys to be completed using public transport by 2030, and 85% by 2050, up from 66% in 2015,” he added.

Climate change, technology and eager competition for customers mean that Singapore’s energy suppliers certainly need to re-invent themselves.

Images from Güldem Üstün and SP GroupCC BY 2.0