Chemical engineers at World Engineers Summit

Article by Neil Clark

ENERGY issues in South East Asia and ways to implement climate change mitigation innovations were the focus of an IChemE workshop at the World Engineers Summit, in Singapore yesterday.

The IChemE Energy Centre-hosted workshop was kicked off by board member Richard Darton from the University of Oxford, UK. He introduced the centre, focussing on its key mission of highlighting the important role that chemical engineers play in making energy more sustainable. He also asserted that the discipline is essential to delivering a low-carbon future, and urged industry to look at the whole supply chain when considering environmental impact.

Discussions began with Antonio Della Pelle, also a board member of the Energy Centre, looking at the growing population in South East Asia, as well as the diversity of the landscape and how this presents different challenges. He concluded that in order to meet the 2°C target set by the Paris Agreement, immediate deployment of renewable energy and CCS is required in the short term.

Singapore has pledged to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by 36% by 2040 under the Paris Agreement. The strategy to achieve this target was presented by lead technologist of Singapore’s Climate Change Secretariat, Ho Hiang Kwee. Singapore is one of the lowest global emitters of CO2, but fossil fuels account for the majority of its emissions, predominately from power, transport and industry. Kwee confirmed that Singapore will introduce a carbon tax in 2019, to encourage the use of low-carbon fuels.

Meeting targets from the Paris Agreement in South East Asia is particularly challenging, as by 2040 an increasing population and developing economy will increase energy demand by 80%. Global ARF’s David Hooper pointed out that this would also impact on the volume of solid waste generated in Singapore. Currently, 14% of waste is recycled, but Hooper argued that waste-to-energy plants can process up to 200 t/d of waste, and produce up to 60 MW in electricity generation.

The discussion concluded with an audience Q&A with the expert panel. It revealed strong support for the carbon tax, and opened up debate for a circular economy in Singapore. A number of audience members stressed the need for Singapore to become less reliable on imports, and for more sustainable product lifecycles.

The workshop was chaired by IChemE Singapore Board chair Joe Eades. He said: “Decision-makers, governments and political figures must ensure we can deliver a low carbon future for future generations. For a long time, economists have been listened to on issues of meeting energy targets – today the IChemE Energy Centre has shown that chemical engineers can provide the technical solutions and evidence-based recommendations for policy.

“We cannot consider things in isolation and must take a look at the bigger picture: the supply chain, the process and the product end-of-life. We must consider the impact of waste on people and the environment, and encourage policy-makers to take a broad, long-term view.”

The World Engineers Summit is being held from 18–21 July at Suntec. The conference is held biennially to champion engineering-led discussions on sustainable development.

Article by Neil Clark

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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