Mr Steve O’Neil, CEO, REC
Mr Yu Tat Ming, CEO, PacificLight Energy
Mr Edwin Khew, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. It was a wonderful opportunity to have met Mr Steve O’Neil at the Sustainable Energy Association Singapore (SEAS) dialogue session. One thing led to another and I am very happy to be here at REC. Thank you for inviting me to the launch of the REC Tuas Solar Rooftop. It is my pleasure to witness the launch of this cross-sectorial project in the presence of representatives from REC, PacificLight Energy, and colleagues from the Economic Development Board.
Development of the Clean Energy Sector
2. Singapore has come a long way in the development of our clean energy sector. In 2006, the SEAS was founded after Singapore signed the Kyoto Protocol. In 2007, we identified clean energy as a major growth area for our economy as well as being instrumental in mitigating climate change. Research institutes were set up to support companies in technologies and innovation, including the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, or SERIS. As Mr O’Neil has said, it is no coincidence that such organisations are about the same age.
3. These early initiatives provided the foundation for multinational companies in the clean energy sector to set up their regional and global headquarters in Singapore. We are glad that REC made the decision to do so in 2008, and REC’s Integrated Solar Manufacturing Complex was officially opened by PM Lee in 2010. Since then, over 30 million high-quality solar panels have been made at this factory, and installed worldwide.
4. REC has grown from strength to strength in the past decade and is one of the pioneers in our fast-growing clean energy sector today. The success of such companies here has contributed to the recognition of Singapore as the leading clean technology hub in Asia in the areas of renewable energy, smart grids, and green buildings. We have turned our limited land area and high urban density into our strength, by positioning ourselves as a living lab where companies can develop, test and commercialise innovative urban solutions in a real-life setting. Along with the sharp decline in solar system costs, solar PV installations in Singapore has grown from 1.9MWp in 2009 to 143.3MWp in 2017. We are heartened by this strong growth and aim to increase solar PV deployment in Singapore to 350MWp by 2020 and 1GWp beyond 2020.
Year of Climate Action
5 Indeed, the switch to cleaner forms of energy is important in our fight against climate change. We can already see and feel the impact of climate change in Singapore. 2017 was the warmest year on record, among the years not influenced by El Niño conditions. In January this year, we experienced flash floods due to intense rainfall. In my house visits to residents, I increasingly hear complains about the rains splashing into the doors of homes despite the fact that the corridors are getting wider. This shows us the intensity of the rainfall in recent years. Globally, the world suffered various extreme events, among them Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma. Such intense weather patterns are projected to occur more frequently in the future. Urgent action is needed if we wish to mitigate these effects.
6. In support of Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action and as part of our efforts to meet our obligation under the Paris Agreement, my Ministry designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action. Through this, we aim to raise national awareness of the impact of climate change and the urgency to take action. In the corporate sector, we want to see more companies “think and speak carbon”, to reduce their carbon footprint. For the general public, we want to see all Singaporeans taking action today for a sustainable future, and to understand the powerful cumulative effects of seemingly small actions. What we found from our surveys is that many people do not take actions because they do not think their actions are important enough to mitigate climate change. It is important that we get everybody to realise that every action counts.
7. As a first step, we are encouraging organisations, educational institutions and individuals to make a climate action pledge. As Mr Steve O’Neil shared earlier, REC was one of the first few companies to make their climate action pledge, and a very tangible and significant one. I am glad they went one step further to encourage their employees to make their personal pledges for climate action. I commend REC for taking the lead and championing climate action through tangible actions. If you have not already done so, I urge all of you present today to go online, make your pledge, and take climate action.
REC Tuas Factory Power Purchase Agreement
8. I am heartened to be here at the launch of REC’s latest effort – the REC Tuas Solar Rooftop – and to witness the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between REC and PacificLight Energy. The Tuas Solar Rooftop is set to be one of Singapore’s largest rooftop solar installations, mitigating 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years and contributing to our goal to transit to a low-carbon economy. Through this mutually beneficial collaboration, PacificLight Energy will receive a boost to their solar energy portfolio, while REC will be able to partially power their operations on clean energy by converting their rooftop into a power plant. This collaboration serves as a good example for companies that are looking to drive or adopt renewable energy in Singapore. I urge more companies to actively look at how they too can harness and adopt clean energy for their operations and/or even contribute to the Grid.
9. Each organisation and individual is an agent for change. We need to propagate this message to our network of partners, families and friends to take action today for a sustainable future. As we witness the signing of the Agreement between REC and PacificLight Energy today, I encourage everyone to think about what we can do to contribute to the Year of Climate Action, as individuals, organisations and part of the larger community. The possibilities are endless, and that we are limited only by our imagination.