Monday, August 31, 2009

Next big power stations to be sited in eastern Singapore

SINGAPORE’S next big power stations will be built in the eastern part of the island. Potential sites will be set aside and further information on them could be released to investors within months.

With most of the existing power stations in the west, apart from Senoko in the north, ‘we think there are benefits for a power station in the east’, said Energy Market Authority CEO Lawrence Wong.

‘It’s not just about security or strategic reasons,’ he said. ‘Having electricity generation closer to the load or demand as new industries or clusters grow in the east makes a lot of sense in terms of reducing transmission losses.’

‘We have looked at possible plots in the east that can be set aside for power stations and will be putting out some of this information in due course so investors looking at new generating plants can consider these as possibilities.’

EMA is looking at releasing information on the sites either in October or November this year as part of its annual Statement of Opportunities report, or in next year’s report, depending on when it is ready.

At present, two of the three biggest power plants here, PowerSeraya with 3,100 megawatts (MW) and Tuas Power with 2,670MW, are located in the West, along with Sembcorp Cogen (815MW) and Keppel Merlimau Cogen (498MW) on Jurong Island. Only the 3,300MW Senoko Power is in the north.

The move east – where there are still large plots available for large-scale power generation – is logical given the shortage of land in the west, especially on Jurong Island.

‘In the end, it’s all about land availability,’ said Mr Wong. ‘It depends on what sort of plant the investor is looking at. For example, a cogeneration plant producing both electricity as well as steam for industries is different from a stand-alone power generation plant.

‘If you are talking solely about power generation, there are not many sites available on Jurong Island for such a facility. So that’s a constraint.’

Given the general shortage of land, JTC Corporation has also embarked on an island-wide underground feasibility study, with underground power stations a potential application.

On this, Mr Wong said: ‘There is an inter-agency process going on within the Trade and Industry Ministry and we’re not ready to talk about details yet.’

Underground plants are possible and ‘already being done elsewhere’, he said, recounting a recent visit he made to two underground hydro-power stations at Manapouri in New Zealand that generate about 850MW.

‘But whether the idea is applicable here, given our geological considerations and our circumstances, that’s a question that remains,’ Mr Wong said.

Source: Business Times, 31 Aug 2009

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