Trial to import electricity from Malaysia a ‘useful first step’

CNA – A trial which will see Singapore import electricity from Peninsular Malaysia will be a “useful first step” in preparation for further moves to connect to the regional power grid, said experts.

Announced in late October, the trial will see Singapore import 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Malaysia for two years. This will make up about 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s peak electricity demand.

The move is part of Singapore’s plan to strengthen the “regional grid architecture”, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in a keynote speech delivered at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week in October.

“This will allow the region to share the clean energy sources that different countries may have, and we’ll start this with Malaysia,” he said.

“Once the concept takes off, we’ll be able to extend this to other regional players.” Speaking to CNA, Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, who is the executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, said that with the trial coming after the recent announcement on the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP), connectivity among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would be the “ultimate goal”.

“I think the longer term play for us is not just to connect to Malaysia, but the longer term play is to connect to ASEAN. And if the ASEAN connectivity can be managed, that will be the ultimate goal and would allow us to meet our long-term emissions target,” said Dr Mhaisalkar.

“So, from that perspective, what we are doing with Malaysia for the first two-year trial is to really get ready for that.”

Earlier this year, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore announced their commitment to initiate cross-border trade of up to 100MW of electricity from Laos to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia under the LTMS-PIP. This will be done using existing interconnections from 2022 to 2023.

Singapore currently has plans to develop “four switches” to guide and transform the energy supply. One of them is finding ways to harness regional power grids.

Tan Congyi, who is head of the Urban Solar Group at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, noted that proving the feasibility of regional power grids could help “pave the way” for a regional electricity market in the future.

Potential implications include allowing the region to better co-operate on a bilateral or multilateral basis as well as connecting areas with surplus power capacity – especially from renewable sources – to areas with a deficit in power capacity, he explained.