In a Facebook post published last week, Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek’s chief executive Ho Ching asserted that it is critical to master and adopt nuclear energy.
Mdm Ho, who is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, made these remarks as she linked a Bloomberg article that lamented Germany’s increasing dependence on coal energy. The nation has decided to phase its nuclear fleet out by 2022 while its coal-fired power plant will continue operations until 2038.
Sharing that Singapore took a stand against coal fired power plants long ago and switched to the more environmentally friendly gas power because of the pollution coal energy produces, Mdm Ho noted that while coal, oil and gas all produce similar levels of carbon dioxide, gas is the cleanest source of energy among the three when it comes to air pollution.
Revealing that Singapore also “considered nuclear” power and even sent pioneers like Tay Eng Soon to train with the UK Atomic Energy Agency for training, Mdm Ho recalled that the local team was disbanded when the Government subsequently decided nuclear power would be “too risky”.
Mdm Ho, however, noted that “the current generation of nuclear power generation is much safer than the 1st generation of nuclear power plants like the Fukushima plant.” She added:
“Fukushima relies on active power source to maintain the cooling – lose that power source and there will be a serious meltdown risk. Current generation designs are based on a fail safe approach. When power fails, the system remains safe.
“This is similar to another concept called fail soft approach. In a fail soft approach, the system continues to be operational in a degraded mode, which gives time for corrective action.”
Asserting that ASEAN nations need to research on the safety an security aspects of nuclear power as they build their capabilities and capacity to handle nuclear power plants, the PM’s wife said:
“Newer nuclear options are on the horizon, not eminent, but within decades. Overall, for a greener earth and to reduce carbon emissions, we must master and adopt nuclear energy as a key solution.
“For now, it is better than developed and more capable nations step up their nuclear power capacity. This will reduce the demand for fossil fuels, and lower the overall carbon emissions.
“At the same time, developing economies can do their part to switch away from coal to cleaner gas or greener renewables.”
This is not the first time Mdm Ho has expressed an interest in emissions and making the world a greener place. In a speech she delivered at the Fullerton Fund Management Company’s 15th Anniversary Reception in January this year, Mdm Ho had said:
“Urgent action is needed. We must act now, to reduce our global CO2 emissions by 2030, to half of our 2010 level of emissions. If we can do that, we will have a better than even chance of achieving the ultimate goal of zero net emissions by 2050 for a liveable earth.”
Noting that a hotter Earth has serious climate and health consequences for the world, especially for the humid Singapore, Mdm Ho urged:
“In the last 5 years, however, average temperatures in the central district, where many of us are working, went up by one degree. This is 8 times faster than before.
“A big contributor is air conditioning. Do you know that 75% of our homes now have air conditioning? That means the majority of our HDB flats as well. About 30% of our energy consumption is for air conditioning.
“We can halve that energy usage with more efficient, large scale, new infrastructure like district cooling. This can help provide cooling for all households, while saving them money too.
“Should we not push harder, for a faster transition, to a cooler and more energy efficient Singapore? Globally, cattle farming alone contributes to about 10% of world greenhouse gases. Can we halve our beef intake, and replace cattle farming with more sustainable solutions?”