Best of our wild blogs: 11 Jul 16

Singapore's Climate Action Plan and our shores
wild shores of singapore

The last forested hill in Sembawang
The Long and Winding Road

Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) @ Tampines
Monday Morgue

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Govt launches ‘bold’ plan to tackle climate change

SIAU MING EN Today Online 11 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE — With climate change projections pointing to more warm days in Singapore, the authorities are developing a set of guidelines to manage heat stress and prevent heat-induced illnesses.

A fire probability index will also be created to identify the risk of bush fires, which could occur more frequently with prolonged hot and dry weather, in different weather conditions and regions here.

These are among various strategies the Government is adopting to prepare Singapore for climate change.

And they were in the Climate Action Plan launched yesterday by President Tony Tan at the joint opening ceremony of the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore.

Dr Tan said: “The Climate Action Plan outlines bold steps that Singapore is taking to achieve our 2030 carbon mitigation plan, as well as to strengthen our resilience to climate change.”

The plan fits within the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, a broader development framework to guide Singapore’s sustainability efforts until 2030, he added.

The plan is split into two publications, one on how Singapore will take steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 2030 and the other on the Government’s strategies to adapt to the impact of climate change until 2100.

Based on climate change projections, Singapore will face rising sea levels, higher temperatures, more pronounced dry seasons and more intense rainfalls.

National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) senior director Tang Tuck Weng said the publications were timely and would update the public on how Singapore intends to fulfil its pledge made at December’s Paris agreement.

To prepare Singaporeans for hotter weather, the National Environment Agency and the Ministry of Health are developing a heat stress information system, expected to be ready by year end, to help members of the public plan and manage outdoor activities.

Heat stress can lead to mild heat rashes, heat cramps or more serious cases of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To manage this, the publication listed measures such as sponging with cold water and wearing loose-fitting, heat-permeable and light-coloured clothing.

Likewise, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the National Parks Board and the Meteorological Service Singapore are now developing the fire probability index, which will trigger and help prioritise emergency responses.

It will also improve the removal and disposal of dried leaves and dead wood in selected areas. Bush fires, when not dealt with promptly, can spread and cause the loss of greenery and biodiversity, damage property and endanger people.

A study is being done to analyse local weather patterns such as temperature, humidity and rainfall, and their implications for fire risks. The agencies are also learning from the experiences and risk indices used in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

However, differences in weather and land use profiles, among others, mean that the indices might not be directly applicable to Singapore, and the index would need to be customised to the local context.

A prototype will be tested against different weather conditions from late this year and next year. In addition, the SCDF will step up patrols at fire hot spot areas to detect fire risks.

Other climate change strategies include strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure, such as power stations, telecommunication and transport infrastructure, against localised flooding and temperature changes.

For example, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has plans to construct the new Terminal 5 at Changi Airport 5.5 metres above the mean sea level, which is higher than the flood protection level stipulated for other areas in Singapore.

Given that climate science and projections will continue to evolve, the NCCS said the Government will continue to review the adaptation plans to ensure optimal solutions are in place.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said he hopes more will understand Singapore’s comprehensive strategy to address climate change and, more importantly, how they can play a part.

“Our goal of building a more carbon-efficient and climate-resilient Singapore can only be achieved when the community and businesses work together with the Government in making climate-friendly habits and practices a way of life,” he said.

Documents detailing Singapore's climate action plan launched by President Tony Tan
Monica Kotwani and Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 10 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE: From improving the energy efficiency rates of the Republic's manufacturing industry, to a 'heat stress information system' that could inform the public on managing their outdoor activities in warmer weather - the Republic's plan to tackle the effects of climate change while meeting its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement has been set out in two documents, launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Sunday (Jul 10).

Dr Tan launched it at the opening ceremony of the World Cities Summit, the Singapore International Water Week and the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, held at Marina Bay Sands.

Called the Climate Action Plan, the documents address two areas: setting out strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and preparing for the impact of climate change. As part of the historic global agreement, Singapore has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 36 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. It is also working to stabilise its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

“The Climate Action Plan outlines bold steps that Singapore is taking to achieve our 2030 carbon mitigation plan, as well as to strengthen our resilience to climate change," said Dr Tan. "We will reduce emissions from power generation, by raising solar power in our system to 350 Mega Watt peak by 2020, an 18 times increase as compared to 2014. This would constitute about 5% of Singapore’s expected peak electricity demand."


The first document, entitled, "Take Action Today: For a carbon-efficient Singapore", sets out the ways in which Singapore can meet its targets, and one key strategy is to improve energy and carbon efficiency. In 2012, industries made up more than 40 per cent of Singapore's total primary emissions. To address this, the Climate Action Plan aims to improve the energy efficiency rates of the manufacturing sector by one to two per cent per year for the period of 2020 to 2030. The energy efficiency rate stood at about 0.7 per cent per year in 2014 and 2015.

Singapore has embarked on various other initiatives to reduce its carbon emissions, including improvements to the buildings sector, and implementing plans to encourage the uptake of public transport.

The second document, called "A Climate-resilient Singapore: For a Sustainable Future" sets out ways in which the island can prepare for the effects of climate change, which could include more intense rainfall and warmer days during the hot months. Sea levels around the island are expected to rise between 0.25m and 0.76m by the end of the century compared to what they were between 1980 and 1999.

The construction of new projects is taking this into account, including the development of the Tuas Terminal, developed over the next 30 years. The Terminal, which will consolidate Singapore's port operations, will be built more than two metres higher than the highest water level ever recorded.

In addition, the document also sets out plans to help the public adapt to warmer weather. The Health Ministry is working with the National Environment Agency to develop a heat stress information system so the public can better plan their outdoor activities, as temperatures are projected to rise by 1.4 to 4.6 degrees Celsius towards the end of the century. This will be ready by the end of the year.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force, NParks and the Meteorological Services Singapore are also in the process of developing a fire risk index, to identify the risk of bush fires under different weather conditions, and in the various parts of Singapore. The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) said a prototype will be tested from late this year to next year.

The two climate action plan documents are available online on the NCCS website. Copies will also be distributed to public libraries, and subsequently to secondary schools and higher institutions.

Added Dr Tan: "Singapore’s Climate Action Plan will fit within the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, the country’s broader sustainable development framework to guide our sustainability efforts until 2030."

"The Blueprint outlines our national vision, and plans for our home, environment and future through 5 key thrusts of building 'eco-smart' towns, going 'car-lite', working towards a zero-waste nation, pushing for a leading green economy and encouraging civic participation for an active and gracious community.”

- CNA/mo/jo

Singapore unveils latest plans for addressing climate change
National Climate Change Secretariat press release 10 Jul 16;

President Tony Tan Keng Yam has announced the release of Singapore’s Climate Action Plan at the joint opening ceremony of the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore this evening.

Take Action Today: For A Carbon-efficient Singapore

The Climate Action Plan is explained in two documents. The first document entitled “Take Action Today: For A Carbon-efficient Singapore” spells out the key strategies that Singapore would be taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fulfill the pledge it made in support of the Paris Agreement. Singapore has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 36% compared to 2005 levels by 2030. Singapore is also working towards stabilising its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. These are ambitious targets, given Singapore’s limited options for renewable energy.

Improving energy efficiency will continue to be Singapore’s key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and plans have been made to expand the scope of current initiatives across all sectors, namely the power generation, industry, buildings, transport, household, waste and water sectors.

On industrial energy efficiency, a study commissioned by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) projected that 20% energy savings could be achieved by 2030 compared to business-as-usual levels. Significant opportunities were identified in the petroleum, petrochemical, and semiconductor sub-sectors.

Besides improving energy efficiency, Singapore will also invest in cutting edge low carbon technologies and scale up low carbon solutions for deployment in Singapore. For instance, our national water agency PUB is testing new technologies, such as electrochemical desalting, with the aim of halving the energy used in the seawater desalination process. The National Environment Agency (NEA) is developing new Waste-to-Energy plants that optimise resource and energy recovery. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Energy Market Authority (EMA), Housing and Development Board (HDB), Economic Development Board (EDB), NEA and PUB have also developed various programmes to increase solar energy adoption in Singapore. Our plan is to raise the adoption of solar energy to 350 MWp by 2020, compared to 60 MWp today.

A Climate-resilient Singapore: For A Sustainable Future

Singapore is a low-lying, densely populated tropical island state. We are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, higher temperatures and more pronounced dry seasons, as well as more intense rainfall. Some of these may cause daily inconveniences, whilst others could be more severe. The second document entitled “A Climate-resilient Singapore: For A Sustainable Future” explains how Singapore may be affected by climate change and the Whole-of-Government strategy to prepare for them.

The government has already started to strengthen Singapore’s defence against climate change. At the same time, given that climate science and projections continue to evolve, the government will continue to review our adaptation plans to ensure that we put in place optimal solutions to protect Singapore and Singaporeans. Some of the key initiatives are listed below:

To reduce the impact of sea level rise, seawalls and rock slopes have been built near coastal areas. Selected roads, such as a stretch of Changi Coast Road and Nicoll Drive, have been raised to mitigate coastal erosion and seawater inundation. BCA is also in the process of conducting a detailed Coastal Adaptation Study to enable us to better protect our coastal areas in the long term.

To mitigate the possibility of flooding due to intense rainfall, PUB has adopted a comprehensive, system-wide approach (known as the “Source-Pathway-Receptor” approach). Measures include the widening and deepening of drains, on-site detention tanks as well as the raising of platform levels and flood barriers.

To prepare Singaporeans for hotter weather, NEA and Ministry of Health (MOH) are developing a heat stress information system to help the public to better plan and manage outdoor activities. NEA already has in place a nation-wide programme to fight dengue, which may become more prevalent.

To strengthen our food supply resilience as climate change could cause crop failure and supply disruptions, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) pursues a diversification strategy and aims to minimise potential food supply disruptions by importing food from different regions.

To better understand the impact of higher temperatures and strong winds on buildings and building attachments, BCA and the HDB are conducting studies that will recommend appropriate adaptation measures.

To strengthen the resilience of our critical infrastructure such as power stations, telecommunication and transport infrastructure against localised flooding and temperature changes, EMA, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Land Transport Authority (LTA), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) are also in the midst of reviews.

Call to Action: Individuals, Community and Businesses

“With the release of the Climate Action Plan, we hope that more people will understand Singapore’s comprehensive strategy to address climate change, and more importantly how they can play a part. Our goal of building a more carbon-efficient and climate-resilient Singapore can only be achieved when the community and businesses work together with the government in making climate-friendly habits and practices a way of life,” said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.

Jointly Issued by: National Climate Change Secretariat, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and Ministry of National Development

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Steps to make firms more energy-efficient in the works

SIAU MING EN Today Online 11 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE — The authorities are aiming to have the manufacturing sector hit energy-efficiency improvement rates of 1 to 2 per cent yearly between 2020 and 2030, a rate that will be on a par with that of leading developed countries.

The current energy-efficiency rate for some 160 energy-intensive companies in this sector was about 0.7 per cent per annum in 2014 and last year. These companies account for more than 50 per cent of the total energy use in Singapore.

To achieve the new target, government agencies will conduct regular reviews of the Energy Conservation Act, pilot an energy-efficiency financing programme and provide incentives such as an investment allowance for energy efficiency, among other measures.

The target was announced as part of the Climate Action Plan launched yesterday.

Singapore has pledged to cut its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 under last year’s Paris Agreement on climate change. It also aims to stabilise its emissions, with the aim of peaking around 2030.

To do so, Singapore plans to improve energy efficiency and expand the scope of its current initiatives across all sectors, such as in the power generation, industry, buildings, transport, household, waste and water sectors.

For the industry sector, which accounted for 59 per cent of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, a study commissioned by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) projected that 20 per cent in energy savings could be met, compared with business-as-usual levels.

“Significant opportunities” were also identified in the petroleum, petrochemical and semi-conductor sub-sectors, said NCCS. Likewise, a 2030 target has been set for 80 per cent of the buildings here to achieve Green Mark standards.

In the transport sector, the authorities aim to increase the use of public transport during morning peak hours from 66 per cent last year to 75 per cent in 2030, with a target of 85 per cent set for 2050.

There are also plans to invest in low-carbon technologies and to scale up such solutions for use in Singapore. Examples include new waste-to-energy plants that can generate electricity from the incineration process, as well as increased solar energy adoption.

Both publications are available on the NCCS website, and hard copies can be found at public libraries.

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How will Singapore power the future? Experts discuss energy options

As the world's energy demand increases in tandem with population growth and advances in technology, it needs to find new sources of energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Warren Fernandez The Straits Times 10 Jul 16;

Flick a switch, and the lights come on.

Turn a tap, and the water flows, pumped to the top of the tallest skyscraper.

Tap a remote, and the smart TV springs to life.

These are everyday realities, often taken for granted in Singapore.

They are made possible by readily available, generally reliable, and relatively affordable energy sources that power a modern economy.

The advent of new technologies, from robotics to 3D printing to electric vehicles, will increase the demand for energy, not just in Singapore but the world over.

As societies move up the development curve, more people will choose to buy computers, mobile phones and cars. Those trends, plus the projected growth in the world population to 10 billion, will see energy demand double by mid-century.

Amid all this is the urgent imperative to check greenhouse gas emissions which give rise to global warming, as nations agreed to do at the Paris climate summit in December.

The world, in short, will need a lot more energy, but with a lot less carbon dioxide (CO2) produced in the process.

Fail to achieve this, and the world faces serious economic and environmental problems in the years ahead.


Which is why any discussion about the Future Economy, in Singapore or elsewhere, rightly begins with exploring future sources of energy - just where the energy to power tomorrow's growth will come from, at what cost, and with what impact to the environment. So, the first ST Future Economy Roundtable held last month took up this issue.

Shell Singapore's country chairman Goh Swee Chen, who was one of the Roundtable panellists, sums up the challenge this way: "We're a very carbon-based economy and we need to recognise that as we continue to prosper, we will need more energy. And so, we are in an energy transition, one that gets us from the high CO2 emitters all the way to a lower CO2 emission solution.

"In order for us to get to a scenario where we can have better living in a healthier planet, governments, private companies and society all need to work together to allow us to have an environment where we can prosper and at the same time live in a world of lower CO2 emissions."

While recent headlines have been dominated by plunging oil prices, the past few years have seen high energy prices, she notes.

The result: a boon time for investments in alternative energy sources, from solar to shale gas. New technologies and economies of scale brought prices of these energy sources down dramatically, she adds.

In the United States, the discovery of huge reserves of shale gas and advances in techniques to extract it helped the US become an exporter of gas - with economic and geopolitical implications - which few imagined possible just a decade ago.

It was also this wider use of shale gas for power generation that enabled the US to achieve significant reductions in its CO2 emissions in recent years, as promised by President Barack Obama, more so than his push to promote renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. So, technological change in the energy sector can have major disruptive effects which are felt way beyond the industry itself.

In Singapore, for example, solar power has seen a major ramp-up in recent years, with efficiency rising and costs falling to the point where the cost of harnessing energy from the sun is now in line with that of more conventional sources.

The Energy Market Authority's director of industry development, Dr Alvin Yeo, points out that since 2010, Singapore has seen a 19-fold jump in solar-powered energy, helped by several government initiatives to give it a push.

"That's very encouraging and the question now is how the Government can work with business, as well as push some technologies, to make sure that we have more of these renewables in the energy mix in the future," he says.

One major player in the field, Mr Frank Phuan, co-founder and director of home-grown solar energy firm Sunseap Group, notes that more local and foreign firms are now seeking out his company for clean-energy solutions that are less pollutive. They do so not just to shave their energy bills, but also to check their carbon emissions.

Solar power, he adds, also allows them to hedge on energy spending, since low prices can be locked in for longer periods, unlike other sources which are more dependent on fluctuations in oil and gas prices.

The pressure on governments to deliver on pledges made to curb CO2 emissions, as well as companies recognising that they had best prepare for the eventuality that some form of price for emitting CO2 will be adopted, is driving this development, notes Ms Jessica Cheam, editor of Eco-Business, a website on green issues.

Carbon pricing aims to set a cost to polluters and create schemes to pay that cost - for instance, through "cap and trade" systems where they buy and sell carbon credits.

But while recognising that the government has been proactive in driving solar power adoption, Ms Cheam laments the lack of a similar push to promote electric vehicles.

Agreeing, Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute, points to recent advances in storage capacity of batteries, which not only give solar power a boost, but also make electric vehicles more viable.

Boosting energy efficiency - improving the way energy is used in homes, offices and factories - could also see big gains being made, he adds.

Leading the way in developing such clean energy solutions could be a new competitive advantage for Singapore, he continues, just as the Republic turned water from strategic disadvantage to economic opportunity.

This is especially significant since 70 per cent of the world's burgeoning population will live in cities by 2050, consuming 75 per cent of the world's energy and accounting for 80 per cent of the CO2 emitted.

"Singapore is an ideal mega-city in the tropics and if we can get a handle on how to reduce our CO2 emissions, the solutions that we develop could be exported to every part of the world," said Prof Mhaisalkar.

Future fuel options
Straits Times 10 Jul 16;


Solar cells harness light and heat from the sun and convert them into energy. Solar power has been touted as the most promising source of renewable energy for Singapore.

However, it accounts for less than 1 per cent of the electricity consumed here, due to high costs and land constraints in installing solar panels. The Government aims to make it 5 per cent by 2020.

Take its SolarNova programme, which aims to increase solar demand across government agencies. Under the scheme, the Housing Board has committed to a target of 220MW, by generating power through solar panels at 5,500 blocks.


The movement of wind through special turbines generates electricity. Wind power generation in Singapore faces difficulties of space constraints and low wind speeds.

While commercial wind turbines operate at wind speeds of above 4.5m per second, the average in Singapore is only about 2m per second.

But Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researchers are working on turbine designs that could tap wind energy in Singapore's climate, and be installed along the coastline or on islands such as Pulau Semakau.


Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of a type of fuel, typically hydrogen, into electricity, generating heat and water in the process.

It is more expensive than oil and gas, due to the high cost of extracting and purifying hydrogen, but its emissions are far cleaner.

JTC Corp's CleanTech One building is powered by a fuel cell plant. NTU researchers are also exploring how the technology can be used to fuel drones.


These run on rechargeable batteries and release no tail-pipe air pollutants.

There are only about 120 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles here today, but NTU researchers believe they could make up as much as 30 per cent to 50 per cent of Singapore's motor population by 2050. This could cut vehicle pollution by as much as 30 per cent.

Early this month, the authorities appointed BlueSG, a subsidiary of French electric car-sharing operator Bollore Group, to run a fleet of 1,000 cars by 2020 under a national electric car- sharing programme.


This converts solid waste into energy via combustion, reducing the volume of waste along the way.

Singapore has four waste-to- energy plants - Tuas, Senoko, Tuas South and Keppel Seghers Tuas - as well as the Semakau Landfill. Another is being built by Hyflux and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Tuas.

MICROGRIDS A microgrid is a self-contained power system of solar panels and batteries. Small-scale and able to sustain itself, it can provide electricity to remote areas.

The Energy Market Authority is piloting a microgrid test-bed at the jetty area of Pulau Ubin.


A smart city is a vision of urban development which uses big data and other advances in technology to improve the quality of life for residents.

In Singapore, the Govern- ment's Smart Nation Programme Office oversees the smart city push. The goal is to be more energy-efficient by reducing the heat generated by the environment, such as by cutting down on congestion or building naturally cooler homes.

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Vertical farms on the rise in land scarce Singapore

Bryna Singh The Straits Times 10 Jul 16;

Vertical farming is growing in Singapore. From just one in 2012, there are now seven licensed vertical farms producing vegetables, fish and crab.

These farms use high-tech and high-yield methods to overcome the limitations of traditional farming and transform their work into lucrative businesses.

Vertical farming is also gaining popularity because the farms optimise land use in land-scarce Singapore and can operate on minimal manpower.

Packet Greens, for instance, is an indoor vertical vegetable farm that sits on 1,500 sq ft of space - about the size of two three-room HDB flats - in a unit in an industrial building in Boon Lay Way. Only three people are needed to harvest the 30kg daily yield of vegetables.

For those with larger premises, the numbers are more impressive.

Sky Greens, Singapore's first vertical farm, produces up to 1,000kg of vegetables a day. About 10 farmhands are needed to harvest that amount. When the farm reaches full capacity early next year, it can produce 5,000 to 10,000kg a day.

Vertical farms have high yields because they are high-tech. At Sky Greens in Lim Chu Kang, vegetables grow on 9m-tall towers made of tiers of planting troughs rotating around an aluminium frame. Each tower produces five to 10 times more vegetables than conventional methods in the same land area.

Apollo Aquaculture Group, which has a vertical fish farm and a crab farm, uses high-tech water treatment, which circulates water in self-contained systems that clean it more efficiently. An optimal environment for the fish protects them from disease, lowers death rates and allows more fish to be reared in a single tank.

Owners say the most challenging - and expensive - part of setting up a vertical farm is sorting out the technology. Most took about two years to design and develop their systems.

The founders of indoor vertical farm Sustenir Agriculture in Admiralty, which began operations in 2014, spent 11/2 years speaking to consultants and professors, so they could understand the possibilities and limitations of growing vegetables in a controlled indoor environment.

Today, co-founders Benjamin Swan, 35, and Martin Lavoo, 29, who have invested $3 million in their farm to date, have a global patent on their infrastructure design. They say their technology allows them to produce vegetables that have no exposure to chemicals, pesticides, pollutants and even dirt.

Vertical crab farm Gills 'N' Claws in Kranji was born after 21/2 years of research and development. The farm fattens up Sri Lankan mud crabs that are bred in a hatchery in Sri Lanka and then sells them to crab dealers and restaurants here.

Once things are up and running at these farms, the gains are significant. Gills 'N' Claws chief executive Steven Suresh, 46, says about 1,000 mud crabs can be raised in 100 sq m, compared with 30 in open farming.

Because of the high quality of Sustenir Agriculture's produce, the company counts among its clients restaurants from top food and beverage groups such as Tung Lok, Les Amis and Da Paolo.

Mr Swan says Sustenir will soon be selling its vegetables at major supermarket chain Cold Storage and upscale chain Jasons.

In spite of the high set-up cost, the farmers say their products are reasonably priced. Apollo Aquaculture chief executive Eric Ng, 43, who has spent about $4 million on his farms, says his hybrid grouper retails at about $28 a kg, which is comparable with the market rate.

In some cases, the produce is cheaper than the market rate.

Gills 'N' Claws' Sri Lankan mud crabs are sold at $30 to $35 a kg, while the wholesale market rate is $40 to $48 a kg.

The farmers' efforts have taken them beyond Singapore.

Sky Greens has been actively expanding overseas in markets such as China and Thailand and is exploring Malaysia and Hawaii.

Mr Suresh, too, is in talks with investors from countries including Australia and Germany.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore says it is supportive of vertical farming as it makes use of technology and production systems that optimise land use and boosts the capability and productivity of local farms.

Vertical farmers such as Mr Swan hope their efforts will draw younger ones. He says: "The sector needs young talent to find new and creative ways of farming, so that we can make a difference to people's lives and the environment."


Mr Eric Ng, chief executive of home-grown fish farm Apollo Aquaculture Group, runs a high- tech vertical farm that was built up from scratch.

His 10m-high, three-storey vertical fish farm is the only one of its kind licensed by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Everything can be remotely controlled and is carefully programmed, right down to the amount of fish feed dispensed via automatic feeders.

Mr Ng, 43, says of the precision involved in running the farm in Lim Chu Kang: "This operates more like an engineering plant."

His father set up the farm in 1969. It employed traditional fish farming methods until Mr Ng took over the reins when his father died in 2009.

"My father was pro-technology," he says. "He told me to transform things if I saw the need for technology to move the business forward."

In 2009, with help from a Spring Singapore technology improvement grant, he built a $600,000 tank quarantine and filtration system for the farm's ornamental fish, which reduced water usage dramatically.

The system, which he calls the Aquadeck, comprises rows of tanks stacked three levels high. They allow for high-density stocking of fish while maintaining high water quality.

In 2012, he built a $1-million land- based fish farm. The 12-tank experimental system could rear 300 to 400kg of fish in each tank, using high-tech water treatment.

After that took off, Mr Ng says he started thinking multi-tier. With a land area of 20,000 sq m in Lim Chu Kang, he is not lacking space. However, he believes developing vertically is the way to go.

"We can intensively farm our products in a single unit and with a smaller footprint."

The yield from a vertical farm is eight to 10 times more than what he can get from open farming.

The three-storey structure was completed last November, following two years of design and development. It comes with six ponds - two on each level. Each pond is 135 sq m and can hold about 22,000 fish fry.

Mr Ng, who is married to a housewife and has three children, has reared seabass, giant trevally, several types of grouper and shrimp.

"It's all in the water," he says of the successful rearing method, which he adds is parasite-free and does not have fin rot or gut problems.

He supplies the fish to restaurants, including Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant at Gardens by the Bay and Kai Garden at Marina Square.

He also runs a vertical crab farm, which he started experimenting with in 2011 and went full scale in 2013. He began with 200 crabs and can now farm 4,000.

The soft-shelled mud crabs are housed individually in vertically stacked, toolbox-shaped containers and fed fresh fish scraps. He gets the Sri Lankan and Philippine mud crabs from suppliers in Singapore when they weigh 80 to 100g and readies them for sale when they are 300 to 500g.

With the business going swimmingly, he has his sights set on bigger things. He intends to build another similar vertical farm at his Lim Chu Kang premises and will be helping a fish farmer in Sungei Tengah construct a multi-tiered structure.

He will have to relocate the farms next year when the lease expires, but he says that does not mean his efforts would be wasted. Because of their modular design, he can "strip down" the farms and build them up again.

He hopes to boost home-grown production with his vertical farms. In 2014, only 8 per cent of all fish consumed here - about 4.2 million kilogrammes - came from local sources, well short of the AVA's 15 per cent target.

Mr Ng hopes to produce 7 to 8 per cent of Singapore's fish intake in three years' time. It is a bold vision, considering his farm is producing just 0.2 per cent of the fish consumed here at the moment.

"I've only just begun," he says.


Madam Tio Siew Geok (right) and her children, Frank and Praise, run vertical vegetable farm Packet Greens, continuing the hard work that her late husband started. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN
Do not underestimate the small premises that vertical vegetable farm Packet Greens occupies.

It operates out of a single, 1,500 sq ft unit in industrial building TradeHub21 in Boon Lay Way and can grow 20 to 30 varieties of vegetables at a time.

In the two years that it has been in operation, it has succeeded in growing more than 50 types of vegetables, herbs and edible greens. These include lettuce, rocket, celery, kale, basil, thyme, mint and dill, and exotic varieties such as shiso, ice plant and the swollen- stemmed kohlrabi.

The farm was started in 2014 by entrepreneur Phuan Pui Jong and his wife, Madam Tio Siew Geok, 64. He died of a heart attack in November last year at age 70.

The farm is now run by Madam Tio and their children, Frank, 40, and Praise, 37.

Before the farm, Mr Phuan and his son founded home-grown solar panel-maker Sunseap Enterprises in 2000.With a slowdown in the manufacturing sector, the older Mr Phuan decided to look at other business opportunities.

The farm is a product of his interest - he used to grow herbs and flowers at home. In 2014, he and his wife went to Taiwan to see how indoor vertical farms there were run.

Impressed by how these could grow pesticide-free vegetables that could be eaten safely without first being washed, he paid a six-figure sum to import the technology from one of the farms in Taiwan to Singapore.

But the knowledge transfer did not go according to plan because the system did not work well here.

The couple worked hard to tweak things and made the farm flourish. The Taiwanese farm had taught them how to grow xiao bai cai only, but their farm could cultivate more than 30 varieties by the time of Mr Phuan's death.

The vegetables are grown via hydroponics on 3m-high racks that have five to six levels each. They are packed tightly together to allow for maximum light absorption.

As they are grown indoors, the vegetables absorb light from LED lighting and the water used to irrigate the plants is packed with a "secret recipe" of nutrients, says Ms Phuan.

The highly controlled environment means there are no pests and the vegetables are worm-free.

The farm can produce up to 30kg of vegetables a day, or 6 to 7kg for each square metre a month. In comparison, traditional farms yield 2 to 3kg for each square metre a month.

The vegetables take about two weeks to grow before they are harvested - about half the time it takes for outdoor farms to grow vegetables under normal conditions.

Ms Phuan says: "It's farming without the hot sun."

Because it has succeeded in growing more than 50 types of vegetables, herbs and edible greens, the company is ready to take the business to the next level.

So far, it has been producing the greens for small-scale community events and supplying them to eateries such as Park cafe in Holland Village.

The produce is also available for sale via the company's Facebook page. It will soon have an online site for orders.

Mr Frank Phuan, who is the chief executive of Sunseap Group, which provides solar energy, has been reaching out to restaurants in the vicinity of the farm and meeting investors to explore farming collaborations, in which each farm specialises in one to two vegetable types.

The siblings, both married with children, say it is a joy to see their parents' efforts paying off.

Mr Phuan says: "I eat more vegetables now than I have eaten at any other time in my life."

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How Singapore will never go thirsty

Ng Joo Hee The Sunday Times 10 Jul 16;

We have to accomplish three things so that Singapore will never go thirsty: Overcome scarcity, reduce the cost of production, and ensure long-term sustainability of our water system.


Although we are right on the equator and smack in the tropics, nature does not provide us with quite enough water to get by. Our small size means there is just not enough room in Singapore to catch and keep all the rainwater we need.

We are in good company though. Big cities are invariably compelled to bring water from without to quench the thirst of their citizens within. Hong Kong, London, New York and Tokyo all draw much, if not the entirety, of their supply from large forest watersheds and rivers well outside of city limits.

The Separation Agreement, which formalised Singapore's independence after it separated from Malaysia in 1965, guarantees us the right to extract 250 million imperial gallons a day (mgd) of raw water from the Johor River. This right expires in 2061. In order that we are able to exercise this right in a sustainable way, PUB, Singapore's national water agency, constructed and operates a large regulating reservoir - the Linggiu Reservoir - in the upper reaches of the Johor River. Water imported from Johor can easily satisfy half of Singapore's current 430mgd daily demand. Unfortunately, dry weather and large discharges to combat salinity intrusion downstream are causing Linggiu to deplete at an alarming rate. Linggiu started last year 80 per cent full but, as I write, its water level has dropped progressively to an unprecedented 31 per cent.

Johor Baru itself suffered several bouts of water shortages recently and was forced into curtailing supplies to its residents each time. PUB's additional provision of treated water had helped many Johoreans this past Ramadan.

It is possible that Linggiu may fail, compromising the viability of the Johor River source and the reliability of imported water. If and when that happens, there should be no panic in Singapore. Over the years, our decision-makers, planners and water engineers have created enough indigenous capacity to meet just such a contingency. This capacity comes in the now familiar forms of NEWater and desalinated water.

The point is this: Singapore, although water-poor, has through foresight, careful planning, determined research and diligent implementation, significantly overcome the challenge of water scarcity. And that is no mean feat.


Rain is free, and making it drinkable is fairly cheap. Desalination and manufacturing NEWater are far more expensive ways of producing potable water. It takes just 0.2 kilowatt hours of energy to treat one cubic m of rainwater, compared to the 1kWh/m³ to turn sewage effluent into NEWater and the whopping 3.5kWh/m³ required to de-salt seawater. Quite obviously, the latter two "manufactured" sources of water supply, although weather-resistant, are capital- and energy-intensive and correspondingly costlier.

Even then, Singapore's water future lies, without a doubt, with re-use and desalination. We estimate that NEWater and desalination together will have to provide for 85 per cent of Singapore's water needs come 2061 when imports cease and demand is double today's.

So PUB possesses every incentive to find new and better means of desalinating seawater and reclaiming waste water in order to continually lower our cost of production.


Deep sewerage tunnels are one of these ways. At the turn of the millennium, waste water re-use technology, principally through the use of reverse osmosis, had become practicable and gave us the opportunity to produce ultra-high-quality recycled water on an industrial scale. This of course meant that sewage was not just waste water any more, but would become a major source of potable water for us. These developments drove Singapore to become one of the earliest adopters of a deep tunnel sewerage system (DTSS).

The initial portion of Singapore's DTSS was completed in 2008. Unbeknown to most, deep inside the ground is a 6m-wide tunnel that criss-crosses Singapore from Kranji to Changi. Along the way, with the help of gravity, it silently picks up and delivers a tremendous amount of sewage.

At the end of its 48km traverse near to Changi Airport, the DTSS tunnel reaches 50m - more than 20 storeys - underground and shifts nearly a million tons of waste water a day. Massive pumps bring the sewage to the surface to be treated in the Changi Water Reclamation Plant. The resulting effluent is then moved to the neighbouring Changi NEWater factory and further polished to potable quality.

PUB is busy preparing to commence the second leg of the Singapore DTSS, this time running another large sewerage tunnel from downtown westwards all the way to Tuas. When this is completed in a decade, the two tunnels joined up, and state-of-the-art water reclamation and NEWater plants brought online at Tuas, PUB will, literally, be able to collect every drop of waste water and turn it into sweet water again, achieving our aim of endlessly recycling the H2O molecule.

Singapore's DTSS is a marvel of modern engineering, allowing us to efficiently convey a whole country's worth of sewage at minimal expense. It is also a terrific example of how science and new technology, combined with ingenuity and determination, have allowed us to greatly reduce the cost of water husbandry.


What was scarce may be turned into plenty; what was costly can also be made inexpensive. But how do we keep it going? Long sustainability dictates that our water system must endure, and not become too delicate or cumbersome to operate after a time.

There is rain. Rain falls and becomes storm water. Storm water is collected in drains, channelled to reservoirs and stored. Stored rainwater is made potable and supplied to people, commerce and industry.

As PUB supplies good water, water that has been used is returned to us. That used water is collected, treated and turned into good water again, ready to be consumed or squirrelled away in reservoirs. At the same time, seawater is de-salted, turned into good water and fed into the loop.

The water loop is simple enough, but it is still the norm that it be administered in separate pieces. In most places, the water department is separate from the sewerage department, which is separate again from the drainage department. And invariably, all three will work at cross-purposes.

Singapore's secret to a sustainable water supply, however, is to manage the entire water system as an integrated whole. For PUB, supplying good water, reclaiming used water and taming storm water are three legs that hold up a unitary mission.

Looking ahead, climate change is, quite conceivably, the biggest threat to the continued sustainability of Singapore's water system. Global warming, permanently elevated sea levels, and alternating drought and deluge will eventually destroy our water infrastructure if we choose to sit on our hands.

We have to assess and be prepared for a distinctly riskier future. And there is certainly no time to waste in implementing the necessary adaptive and mitigatory measures that will safeguard our water supply system from the climate effects to come.


Despite severely limiting geographic constraints, today's Singapore is not short of water. We can be confident that the country will continue to be water-sufficient in the long run. This makes Singapore unique and the subject of close study by the many thousands who are now convened in our city-state for the Singapore International Water Week this week.

Because we cannot afford to be caught without enough water, or have sewage overflowing onto our streets, or floods inundate our city, Singapore takes an uncommonly long view when it comes to water management, planning decades ahead. Indeed, for as long as we remain clear-eyed and hard-nosed about our country's water situation, and execute our water strategy relentlessly, there should always be enough water.

The writer is chief executive of PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency.
The Singapore International Water Week is from today to Thursday. It is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions.

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Indonesia: Early steps to tackle fires pay off - only 9 hot spots in Sumatra

Francis Chan, Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Jul 16;

Efforts by the authorities on Sumatra island to prevent and suppress land and forest fires early have kept the number of hot spots in Indonesia low so far this year.

Latest satellite data shows that despite temperatures rising and the dry season setting in - both precursors to the annual haze problem - only nine hot spots were detected in Sumatra last Friday (July 8).

This was down from the 49 picked up over the same areas last Wednesday, and substantially lower than the 245 recorded on July 3.

The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre in its latest forecast last Friday evening indicated there were only isolated hot spots detected in parts of Sumatra.

Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho attributed the improvement to "better anticipation" of what causes the fires, and containing them early.

Water-bombing operations are under way and the Riau provincial government fire-fighting task force has been supplemented by officers from the Provincial Disaster Mitigation Agency, soldiers and policemen as well as other volunteer groups.

Dr Sutopo, quoted byJakarta Globe news, said yesterday that the few fires still burning were those in hard-to-reach areas.

As with previous years, forest fires were expected during Aidilfitri, according to the BNPB.

The outbreak of fires, however, did not affect local residents or wildlife in the area, said Dr Sutopo.

"There have been no reports of any impact on the community... and the air pollution standard index is still in a healthy level," he added.

The rampant burning of land in Sumatra and Kalimantan last year produced thick smoke that led to one of the region's worst transboundary haze crises, which affected millions in South-east Asia.

It was a year ago, between July 8 and 9, when reports of the toxic haze blanketing parts of Sumatra first hit the headlines.

Indonesian officials do not expect a repeat of the crisis this year, though that may be due more to favourable weather than progress in addressing the underlying causes of the blazes.

- See more at:

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New York’s Clever New Park Will Weather Epic Storms and Rising Seas

SAM LUBELL Wired 7 Jul 16;

ON JULY 19 Governors Island, a 172-acre park about half a mile off the southern tip of Manhattan, will open its new centerpiece: “The Hills”—as the four enormous mounds are called—will span ten acres and give visitors amazing views, art installations, and plenty of space for play and relaxation. They’ll also be a model for protecting a city vulnerable to climate change-powered storms and sea level rise.

When the Trust for Governor’s Island imagined the site in 2006, the term “resiliency” wasn’t even in the vocabulary of New Yorkers, says Trust president Leslie Koch. This was years before Superstorm Sandy, after all. But in 2007, Koch and her colleagues selected West 8, a Dutch architecture and landscape design firm known for the attention it pays to the threat of climate change, to lead the project. “We got a crash course in what it meant, before everyone else,” says Koch.

For starters, they would have to plan ahead by elevating the park out of harm’s way. As sea levels rise, coastal groundwater can become salty, killing vegetation. To protect the park’s trees, West 8 design director Adriaan Geuze told Koch and her colleagues they would need to lift nearly 40 acres of land on the southern half of Governors Island—which is mostly shallow landfill and completely surrounded by brackish water—7 to 15 feet, on top of fill. “The island is in the middle of the ocean,” Geuze says. “Tides roll around it, and exposure is part of its life.”

The message didn’t sink in right away. But Geuze convinced the Trust. “I was very skeptical. I thought this was just something Dutch people do,” Koch says. “But we reviewed the data more than once, and it became clear this was a necessity.”

Additional steps included securing the hills—mostly made of construction debris under the lovely lawn—with jute mesh (forming what’s called an erosion control mat) and planting trees, shrubs, and grasses to prevent erosion and stabilize the new topography. The builders also installed a rocky sea wall to break up the surf and concrete seat edges at the bottom of some of the hills that also act as water barriers. They encouraged a subtle downward slope toward the shore that will flush tides that make it over the wall. The hills, themselves, work as a natural water barrier.

The Hills also works as a beautiful park. The rolling hills invite you to explore by hiding destinations just beyond your line of vision. Atop the undulating mounds, the project’s botanical team has planted over 40,000 shrubs and almost 3,000 trees. The team has “overplanted” those trees significantly, allowing natural selection to weed out the ones that won’t make it in this harsh, windswept place, and creating a soil base that is extra rich in nutrients and bacteria. “In essence we learned to accept that nature’s not changing,” says Koch. “It’s how are we going to live in it, not how are we going to stop it.” She adds: “This kind of thinking should be happening with every development in New York City.”

For Geuze, who trained as an agricultural engineer, none of this is new territory. “This is what I’ve done for 90 percent of my projects,” he says, pointing to works like the New Hondsbossche Dunes in Petten the Netherlands, designed as a natural landscape as opposed to a sandy dike. “There is a lot of talk about sustainability in the media. But in my profession—landscape architecture—sustainability has been the core issue since the 19th century. Without it your project will fail.”

The battle to prepare New York for rising tides is just beginning. In 2013, shortly after Hurricane Sandy, the city launched the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. The plan outlined countless measures to address resiliency, ranging from the installation of flood protection infrastructure, to increased accessibility to drinking water during storms, to the passage of measures that would ease the elevation of building systems. Today, most of those initiatives are in progress or completed.

“We are never going to be where we want to be. We always want to be safer,” says Amy Spitalnick, a spokesperson for the city. “But I think we’re moving forward more aggressively than anticipated, both in terms of securing the dollars and executing the projects.” The city’s Building Resiliency Task Force, a group established by the New York Chapter of the US Green Building Council, estimates the city is about halfway to meeting its resiliency needs. Projects like the Hills show that those needs can come with a dose of fun, too.

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