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Insights into energy and environmental sustainability

25 April 2013

(From left) Dr Casarosa, Mr Ho Hiang Kwee who is Lead Technologist at the National Climate Change Secretariat of the Singapore Prime Minister's Office, Assoc Prof Lee and Prof Kenneth Richards, Musim Mas Professor at the NUS Business School during the panel discussion

External threats such as infectious diseases, rising population density and a more complex urban environment are some of the challenges faced by Singapore. Technology and innovation are needed to tackle these issues, said Mr Joseph Hui, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Technology & Corporate Development) of the National Environment Agency (NEA), at a sustainability symposium organised by the NUS Energy Office on 23 and 24 April.

"Although daunting in many ways, these challenges also present us with opportunities to find solutions and thereby develop our capabilities. We can use new technologies to overcome some of these challenges and achieve better situational awareness, as well as improve our response capability," said Mr Hui during his keynote address at the Sustainability, Environment and Energy Research symposium.

For instance, NEA officers use mobile phones to detect mosquito larvae on site rather than sending samples for identification at the laboratory. To better address huge energy consumption by large users, the Energy Conservation Act was recently rolled out. It aims to help Singapore achieve the target of a 35 per cent improvement in energy intensity by 2030 from 2005 levels.

At NUS, the School of Design and Environment (SDE) has been looking into energy efficiency possibilities, said Associate Professor Lee Siew Eang. Approaches include optimisation of air-conditioning, lighting and spaces. Assoc Prof Lee, who is from the Department of Building, noted that a 30 per cent decrease in energy use at SDE amounts to a savings of S$300,000. For the entire university campus, this could potentially save S$14 million.

Presenting the environmental and energy outlook in 2050 was Dr Lorenzo Casarosa, Senior Consultant at DNV Kema Clean Technology Centre. He opined that there would be a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emission globally, with electricity making up half the world's total energy demand. He expected renewable sources to contribute to most of the energy generated.

During the Question and Answer session, members of the audience comprising government officials, academics and students gained an insight into issues such as incentives needed to encourage organisations to be energy efficient in Singapore, and the potential adoption of nuclear energy.

Other topics discussed at the symposium included environment, climate and systems research and development for sustainable solutions.