8 MARCH 2022 – The Government has allocated around $220 million under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 (RIE2025) Urban Solutions & Sustainability (USS) domain to drive new initiatives in water technologies and resource circularity. This draws from the National Research Fund, under the five-year RIE2025 tranche. These initiatives will help us achieve our ambitious Singapore Green Plan 2030 targets while optimising our limited resources.
Closing the Resource Loop Funding Initiative
2 Of this, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will administer a new $80 million Closing the Resource Loop (CTRL) Funding Initiative that supports the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Zero Waste Masterplan. The funding will support research and development (R&D) on sustainable resource recovery solutions for key waste streams such as e-waste, plastics and food and on finding useful and safe applications for treated waste residues.
3 The new $80 million CTRL Funding Initiative will build upon the R&D work carried out under the earlier Waste-to-Energy (WtE) programme and the CTWL Funding Initiative. The CTRL Funding Initiative will support the implementation of the waste-related initiatives under the Green Plan through capabilities arising from the R&D, with greater efforts on technology translation and test-bedding efforts. CTRL will contribute to our efforts to pursue a circular economy approach under the Zero Waste Masterplan to achieve a sustainable, resource-efficient, and climate-resilient Singapore. [For more information on the Closing the Resource Loop Funding Initiative, please refer to Annex A.]
Centres of Excellence Programme for Water Technology R&D
4 Another $87M has been allocated to support R&D efforts in three water technology focus areas: (i) Desalination and Water Reuse; ii) Used Water Treatment; and iii) Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery under the RIE2025. The funding will go towards supporting the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Separation Technologies Applied Research and Translation (START) under the Centre of Excellence (CoE) Programme. These Centres of Excellence have amassed considerable capabilities in research and development, attracting talent and investments from all over the world, and enriching Singapore’s water industry.
5 The investments in these Centres of Excellence will go towards developing high impact solutions for our national water needs. It will also be an economic multiplier and will spur private sector R&D spending, jobs creation and technology spin-offs in the water industry and adjacent sectors. For example, under RIE 2020, NEWRI has deployed nine technologies with local and global applications in areas such as water purification, and anchored investments from global companies in Singapore.
New Desalination Integrated Validation Plant to be Commissioned
5 In RIE2025, PUB will require START to build on its existing achievements and deepen its expertise in separate technologies for desalination through the design and operation of a Desalination Integrated Validation Plant (IVP). The IVP will integrate the most promising technologies, configure and optimise them at the system level to validate if lower energy consumption and superior performance can be achieved. If successful, the IVP will reduce the system-level energy consumption of desalination to <2kWh/m3, taking PUB one step closer to attaining net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century. [For more information on the Centres of Excellence Programme, please refer to Annex B.]
6 Through our investments in RIE2025, we will continue to create and capture economic value, and find new solutions that can help Singapore and the rest of the world move towards a green and low-carbon future.
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CLOSING THE RESOURCE LOOP FUNDING INITIATIVE
- NEA was awarded $25 million under RIE2015 for the WtE programme in 2014 to enhance energy and resource recovery from Singapore’s municipal solid waste via R&D, and a further $45 million under RIE2020 for the Closing the Waste Loop (CTWL) Funding Initiative in 2017 – both intended to tackle the challenges posed by increasing waste generation, scarcity of resources and land constraints for waste management through R&D.
- Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan, launched in 2019, charts the path towards the vision of a Zero Waste Nation. It sets out national waste management targets to:
- achieve a 70 per cent overall recycling rate; and
- reduce the amount of waste sent to Semakau Landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent by 2030.
- Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the goal is to frontload national efforts and achieve a 20 per cent reduction in waste-to-landfill per capita per day within five years (or by 2026).
- Our efforts to close the waste loops of three key priority waste streams – e-waste, packaging (including plastic) waste and food waste – will contribute to achieving national waste targets and extending the lifespan of Semakau Landfill beyond 2035. The Green Plan also strengthens Singapore’s commitments under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.
Closing the Resource Loop Funding Initiative
- The main objectives for the CTRL Funding Initiative are as follows:
- Increase resource recovery: To achieve 70 per cent overall recycling rate by 2030;
- Increase landfill lifespan: To reduce the daily per-capita amount of waste sent to landfill by 20 per cent by 2026, and 30 per cent by 2030, thereby extending the lifespan of Semakau Landfill beyond 2035; and
- Promote environmental sustainability: To develop sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, that are adopted and commercialised.
- Additional goals for the CTRL Funding Initiative include raising digitalisation and automation, as well as mitigating carbon emissions, which apply across the following three R&D tracks:
- Resource Recovery: Treatment and recovery of resources from three key waste streams: e-waste, plastic waste, and food waste, as well as other waste streams such as paper, horticulture, and wood generated in large quantities;
- Residues as Resources: Treatment of residue streams, e.g., incineration bottom ash, incineration fly ash, non-incinerable waste and mixed materials that can be recovered from Semakau Landfill and their safe applications of these treated materials (e.g., non-structural concrete, caisson infill, sea embankment and land reclamation); and
- Rethinking Energy from Waste: Novel solutions to maximise energy and resource recovery and minimise carbon footprint.
Upcoming plans for CTRL Funding Initiative
- NEA will be launching a series of competitive grant calls along these R&D tracks over the next five years. Institutes of higher learning, research institutes and private sector partners are welcome to participate in these grant calls.
CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAMME FOR WATER TECHNOLOGY R&D
- The CoE Programme, established in 2006, aims to develop world-class research centres in key water technology areas. The CoE Programme provides funding to CoEs located within our local Institutes of Higher Learning to build up critical R&D expertise, engage industry in collaborative innovation and research, and also serve as training receptacles for R&D talent.
- Formed in 2008, NEWRI is a global research institute based in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It has been carrying out research activities with PUB and the industry, to reduce the water sector’s energy dependency, improve real-time water quality monitoring, and reduce industrial water consumption. In RIE2020, NEWRI was awarded funding to build strong linkages with the industry and develop technologies with strong commercialisation potential.
- START was launched in 2016 to translate innovative technologies to commercial products. Over the past five years, START has developed broad capabilities in membrane fabrication at industrial scale; the design, construction and testing of elements and modules; and the design of pilot systems for testing in real-life scenarios. This has enabled START to conduct 15 translational projects involving collaborations with industry.
- CoEs will work on new technologies that contribute to the key outcomes of:
- Reducing energy consumption of desalination from current R&D achievement of 2.6kWh/m3 to <2kWh/m3
- Improving used water treatment energy self-sufficiency from current R&D achievement of 85% to 95%
- Reducing the amount of dewatered sludge to be incinerated from 0.16 kg dry solids/m3 used water to 0.11 kg dry solids/m3 used water
 These objectives are to be achieved together with policy interventions and industry adoption.