Singapore opens A*STAR Experimental Power Grid Centre
Editorial intern Laura Hedges looks at why the launch of A*STAR’s Experimental Power Grid Centre is about more than a landmark project for Singapore
On Tuesday 1 November, Singapore opened one of the largest experimental grid facilities in the world. However, in addition to being a high profile project launch, the event highlighted all manner of industry partnerships—new and existing—and how pairings between the world’s power elite are gearing up to continue embracing renewable energy technologies.
The S$38 million project, A*STAR’s Experimental Power Grid Centre (EPGC), has been built on Jurong Island and was inaugurated by S. Iswaran, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s office.
“The smart grid industry is multi-faceted, involving different players in various sectors. Beyond the immediate power grid industry, EPGC is also relevant to other domains, such as the marine and offshore sector,” Iswaran told onlookers during the launch.
“The opening of EPGC is a landmark in Singapore’s efforts to play a leading role in the development of smart grid technologies. The journey of EPGC began at a ground breaking ceremony just fifteen months ago, and I am glad that EPGC has already shown strong good progress, especially in its engagement with industry partners.”
The Minister also spoke about the project’s ability to engage industry partners—sentiments echoed by the research collaboration agreement announced and penned between A*STAR’s EPGC and SP PowerGrid that same day. This partnering will involve efforts to safeguard reliable power supply.
“SP PowerGrid is pleased to work with EPGC, a leading research institute in electricity grid-related technologies, to explore and develop new smart grid technologies that are robust and yet cost-effective for our operations,” SP’s managing director Sim Kwong Mian stated.
Three MOUs were also signed between EPGC and the Housing Development Board (HDB), Meidensha Corporation Japan and U.S. firm National Instruments respectively. With HDB, the partners will look at renewable energy efforts for public housing in the country. With National Instruments, there are plans to develop advanced measurement and control technologies for smart grids. And with Meidensha, a Japanese electric appliance manufacturer, groups hope to implement high efficiency control technology for advanced medium voltage inverters to be used industrially in pumps and fans.
Heads from each respective partner company turned out in force, and according to Chandran Nair, managing director of National Instruments, his firm believes EPGC to be, “a valuable research partner for developing advanced solutions for distribution automation and real-time smart grid controllers to cater for high renewable energy penetration.”
These aren’t the first high level technology partnerships struck between EPGC and relevant parties either; the group’s existing collection of collaborations forged back at the July 2010 groundbreaking includes work with wind giant Vestas (on a project to enhance wind turbine capabilities) and iconic power systems brand Rolls Royce (which focuses on marine grid research).
In keeping with its mandate, ‘To lead in ushering new technologies for intelligent and decentralised power distribution, interconnection and utilisation,’ EPGC also used the event as a platform to talk about the innovative facilities and research plans the project will house, ranging from electrical power networks to energy distribution and renewable energy resources with a view to commercialisation. One item of technological wizardry gained particular attention: EPGC’s weather simulator which allows companies to test clean energy solutions in various conditions. Declaring this to be a “rigorous and preferred platform,” EPGC’s programme director, Ashwin Khambadkone, underlined the time and cost benefits associated with using such a mechanism in the facility.
Proving to be a perfect blend of local and international industry partnering, housing dual aims for Singaporean and sector-wide research and development, this unique project has been heralded as the start of a hugely successful venture.