Will Singapore’s Electric Vehicle shift be the breakthrough for a solar-powered future?
Updated: Mar 19
The drastic effects of climate change have been laid bare in recent years. In the words of Greta Thunberg, we must 'act like the house is on fire', something that Singapore has certainly accomplished with aplomb. We've rolled out numerous initiatives like the carbon tax and committing almost S$1 billion to research for urban solutions and sustainability. The most surprising part of the latest Budget announcement is the plan to phase out ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles gradually and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040.
The latter will undoubtedly come as a surprise, especially in the wake of Tesla's unceremonious departure from Singapore in 2010 after just six months of operation. Also, how could we forget the debacle about how LTA gave a motorist a $15,000 carbon surcharge for importing a Tesla Model S in 2016.
Despite the inevitable disruption to the local automotive industry, this reimagining of Singapore's motor landscape represents a concrete step by the authorities in the right direction. The transport sector was identified as a primary contributor to greenhouse emissions in Singapore, making this a necessary step to reduce our reliance on gas-fueled options.
We have to be cognisant that this change will not happen overnight, and laying the necessary infrastructure will involve a considerable effort. A vital piece of the puzzle is an interoperable Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network across the country, which the government has pledged to expand. This move is something that could catalyse the development of innovative sustainable energy solutions, following in the footsteps of Australia, who introduced technology to support the use of solar power for EV charging.
A similar move in Singapore will align with efforts to increase the proportion of renewables such as solar energy in our energy mix, aided by solar panels mounted on HDB rooftops. Other technologies such as peer-to-peer energy trading can add further efficiencies and create a positive domino effect to welcome more emerging solutions with similar intentions. Combining these solutions can bring us closer to Singapore's goal of capping greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
However, challenges to implementation remain. Prospective buyers may be discouraged by the limited EV charging network in Singapore which currently stands at 1,600 points. Similarly, the high upfront cost of procuring EVs dampens the adoption rate of EVs.
To combat these challenges, the Singapore government aims to expand the charging points in public spaces to 28,000 by 2030. Additionally, an EV Early Adoption Incentive will be offered to buyers to offset the purchases of cars and taxis. The significance lies in the number; the former makes up 65% of the total vehicle population and the latter clocking the highest mileage at 125,000km per vehicle.
Naysayers might point to how the current slump in oil prices may dampen the pace of development for renewables and sustainable technology in the near term. While significant, I don’t expect this to be a deal-breaker. I, for one, am banking on renewables making a more significant splash, especially in Asia-Pacific, where decentralisation of the energy sector is taking root.
On this note, I'd like to invite you to join me at MOVE Asia this September, where I will be sharing insights into the potential of EV and how we can drive EV charging interoperability across the region. Looking forward to seeing you there!