Cooling’s role in Singapore’s transition to a clean and flexible energy grid


How can Singapore reduce pressure on its energy grid as cooling demands rise?

With global temperatures rising, cities and regions across Southeast Asia are feeling the heat. This is especially the case in densely populated locations like Singapore. As temperatures rise, so does the demand for cooling.

Traditional cooling methods are inefficient and highly polluting, making up approximately 11.5% of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 and are expected to rise. WWF-Singapore (World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore) advocates clean cooling solutions and recognises that more can be done to lessen the strain on the country’s energy grid. As Singapore increases its share of imported renewable energy, efficient cooling is needed to ensure the grid can meet peak demand.

Through this project, WWF-Singapore aimed to build on the country’s existing strengths in clean cooling and highlight how some low carbon solutions – such as district cooling and phase change materials – can also alleviate stress on Singapore’s energy grid.



Putting a new lens on clean cooling solutions

Appointed by WWF-Singapore, our Singapore team analysed clean cooling as a cost-effective means to add flexibility to Singapore’s renewable energy system. Through secondary research and conversations with technology companies, government agencies and research institutions, we:

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Characterised Singapore’s current and future cooling demands. We found that without clean cooling interventions, electricity consumption from cooling demand would rise by 66% by 2030.

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Evaluated pilot and commercial clean cooling initiatives. This means assessing each solution’s potential to add flexibility to the grid.

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Identified which climate-friendly cooling solutions should be prioritised. As part of this, we reviewed where clean cooling interventions have the most considerable potential: commercial buildings.

Based on our findings, we narrowed down the clean cooling solutions Singapore should focus on to provide grid flexibility:

  1. District cooling for grid flexibility
  2. Control systems for demand-side response management
  3. Phase change materials for short-medium duration storage capacity
  4. Cryogenic energy storage systems for long duration storage capacity

Discover more in our Decarbonising Singapore’s energy system in the context of cooling report. 



Demonstrating the multi-functional benefits of clean cooling technologies

As Singapore transitions to clean energy, new challenges related to variable renewable energy and grid flexibility must be tackled. This research demonstrated that cooling is well placed to shift energy demand to different times of the day and manage upsurges in energy demand.

By underscoring the ability of cooling solutions to provide grid flexibility, WWF-Singapore could:

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Emphasise the urgent need for Singapore to roll out clean cooling solutions with science-backed insights.

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Shift Singapore’s perception of clean cooling solely as a solution to cut carbon emissions.

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Bring clarity so the government and other decision-makers can prioritise clean cooling solutions that will reduce stress on Singapore’s grid as it transitions to renewable sources.

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Enhance WWF-Singapore’s Business for Climate Initiative. The results informed the initiative’s Clean Cooling Education Programme, which raises awareness and capacity amongst professionals in the climate and energy sector.