Energy News Today

Could nuclear or geothermal energy be the answer to decarbonising Singapore?

The report described two other scenarios through which Singapore could achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, taking into account uncertainties in geopolitics and the development of clean energy technologies.

Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, a senior principal fellow at the Energy Studies Institute, said significant developments in nuclear technology have helped to make it safer and more reliable.

This includes making reactors smaller, which can help to bring down costs, as well as reduce the impact if an accident were to occur.

Studies have also shown that death rates from the production of nuclear energy are comparable to modern renewables such as solar, wind and hydropower, and remain much lower than fossil fuels.

According to Our World in Data, which took into account death estimates from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, direct and indirect deaths from the 2011 Fukushima disaster and estimated occupational deaths, nuclear energy has a death rate of 0.07 deaths per terawatt-hour.

In comparison, the death rates of brown coal and coal are around 33 and 25 per terawatt-hour respectively.

However, given Singapore’s small size, even a small accident could have a devastating impact, said Dr Andrews-Speed.

“In a place with lots of empty space, that’s alright. But this is why Singapore is being very cautious, and they will wait to see what happens,” he said.

“Singapore will want to see how other countries deploy these different technologies, what the costs are, the management, regulation, safety, waste,” he added.

“The timetable is tight and it’s possible in 20 years’ time that convincing results from different technologies are not suitable for Singapore, even though they may be available for lots of other places.”

In Parliament last month, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan said new designs such as small modular reactors and Generation IV nuclear technologies have the potential to be much safer than many of the plants in operation today.

This includes the ability to cool safely and passively without requiring external systems or operator actions, especially during emergencies.

He added that nuclear fusion technology, which is being developed globally, also has the potential to be much safer as it does not cause chain reactions and produce long-lived radioactive waste.


Besides nuclear energy, Singapore is also considering geothermal energy as a low-carbon alternative.

Last year, EMA announced that exploratory studies will be carried out in the northern and eastern parts of Singapore to determine the country’s potential of harnessing geothermal energy.

One of the study sites is Sembawang Hot Spring Park, where researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), research platform TUM CREATE and Surbana Jurong are seeking to obtain temperature data and improve estimations of Singapore’s geothermal resource potential.

Read More: Could nuclear or geothermal energy be the answer to decarbonising Singapore?

2022-05-21 17:00:58

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