Growing pressure for a transition to greener technologies
Singapore has set its sights on reaching its net-zero ambitions, with a focus on greening its tech sector, after the launch of the Singapore Green Plan 2030.
The plan charts ambitious and concrete targets over the next 10 years, strengthening Singapore’s commitments under the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement.
Showing their commitment to the plans, the government has implemented a moratorium on the building of new data centres, due to the amount of electricity and water they consume, as they seek out more sustainable options.
This move has emphasised the urgency for the region’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to seek sustainable alternatives, to ensure continued economic growth in an increasingly environmentally-conscious Asia.
The recent growth of ICT companies is unprecedented, with Asia accounting for 52% of global growth in the revenue of technology companies over the last decade. Furthermore, the region is predicted to be the fastest-growing location for data centres over the next five years.
Globally, the ICT sector continues to play a role in accelerating the transition to clean energy. RE100, a leading global initiative that brings together hundreds of large businesses committed to adopting 100% renewable electricity, counts ICT companies for almost a fifth of its current membership. Collectively, they have purchased just under a quarter of total renewable energy available, with demand only set to grow further.
Technology and renewable energy
As the ICT sector’s operational footprint increases in APAC, so will its energy requirements and corresponding carbon footprint. ICT leaders need to develop a flexible strategy and tap into innovative solutions.
Suncable is planning to establish the world’s first intercontinental power grid between Singapore and Australia. This project aims to harness and store solar power generated in Australia and transmit this energy via a high-voltage direct current transmissions system to Singapore. The arrangement would address the land scarcity issues in Singapore, while supplying up to 20% of the country’s total electricity needs.
Amazon, who is the largest-ever corporate purchaser of renewable energy, recently announced its first renewable energy project in Singapore. The project is Amazon’s fifth in the Asia Pacific region, as part of its commitment to invest in global solar and wind projects globally.
In this project, Amazon will be working with solar energy provider Sunseap Grou in a long-term agreement to export 62 megawatts (MW) of clean energy to the Singapore electricity grids. It is expected to generate some 80,000-megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean energy annually, which is equivalent to powering more than 10,000 homes in Singapore.
When completed in 2022, the solar project which is made up of a series of solar panels mounted on a ground system, will be among the largest aggregated movable solar systems, designed and installed in Singapore. The project supports Singapore’s bold vision outlined in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a ten-year plan with a nationwide sustainable development agenda.
Transitioning to greener options
Adoption of renewable energy in APAC has been slow, but the market is now changing rapidly and a growing number of companies in the region are making a difference. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TMSC), a key supplier of chipsets for Apple, signed PPAs for 1,200MW of clean energy, making it the leader in corporate PPAs in Taiwan. Tencent had also recently become the first large Chinese technology company to announce its intention to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, with renewable procurement as a main decarbonisation lever.
With increased demand fuelled by the technology sector, growing pressure to decarbonise the region, and an influx of new commercial and technological innovations, Singapore, alongside APAC, can achieve its net-zero ambitions, if it taps on the tremendous growth in renewable energy opportunities in the coming decade
First Solar to Invest US$684mn in Indian Energy Sector
First Solar is about to set up a new photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The 3.3GW factory will create 1,000 skilled jobs and is expected to launch its operations in Q3 of 2023. According to the company, India needs 25+ gigawatts of solar energy to be deployed each year for the next nine years. This means that many of First Solar’s Indian clients will jump at the chance to have access to the company’s advanced PV.
Said Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO: ‘India is an attractive market for First Solar not simply because our module technology is advantageous in its hot, humid climate. It’s an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy’.
A Bit of Background
First Solar is a leading global provider of photovoltaic systems. It uses advanced technology to generate clear, reliable energy around the world. And even though it’s headquartered in the US, the company has invested in storage facilities around the world. It displaced energy requirements for a desalination plant in Australia, launched a source of reliable energy in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE), and deployed over 4.5GW of energy across Europe with its First Solar modules.
The company is also known for its solar innovation, reporting that it sees gains in efficiency three times faster than multi-crystalline silicon technology. First Solar holds world records in thin-film cell conversion efficiency (22.1%) and module conversion efficiency (18.2%). Finally, it helps its partners develop, finance, design, construct, and operate PV power plants—which is exactly what we’re talking about.
How Will The Tamil Nadu Plant Work?
Tamil Nadu will use the same manufacturing template as First Solar’s new Ohio factory. According to the Times of India, the factory will combine skilled workers, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT connectivity. In addition, its operations will adhere to First Solar’s Responsible Sourcing Solar Principles, produce modules with a 2.5x lower carbon footprint, and help India become energy-independent. Said Widmar: ‘Our advanced PV module will be made in India, for India’.
After all, we must mention that part of First Solar’s motivation in Tamil Nadu is to ensure that India doesn’t rely on Chinese solar. ‘India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon supply chain’, Widmar explained. ‘That’s precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits’.
According to First Solar, India’s model should be a template for like-minded nations. Widmar added: ‘We’re pleased to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Asia-Pacific region—with American-designed solar technology’. To sum up: Indian solar power is yet the next development in the China-US trade war. Let the PV manufacturing begin.