The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy
State support can offset the risk for use of new, more expensive technologies
There is no doubt that implementing existing energy-efficient solutions is just as important as developing new green technologies if we are to meet the Paris agreement target. But we need to be much better at sharing best practice across borders to get the required speed in the green transition.
One of the projects that could be a beacon for many building owners and operators is Keppel Bay Tower in Singapore. In 2018, Keppel Land, the building’s owner, received a grant from the Building and Construction Authority in Singapore of over $1 million to test five new and emerging energy-efficient technologies with the aim of reducing the building’s energy consumption significantly and improving its energy efficiency by 20%.
In 2020, Keppel Land announced that the changes had resulted in an improvement of 22.3%, exceeding the initial ambitious target by an additional 2.3 percentage points.
Keppel Bay Tower’s approach to selecting and implementing new technologies could be more widely used for two reasons: Firstly, Keppel Bay Tower was a building already in operation with existing infrastructure, where it is more challenging to implement new technologies than in a new building that is designed with energy-efficient solutions from the offset. And, secondly, the improvement works had to be carried out without disturbing the ongoing operations in the building.
In Europe, roughly 75% of the building stock is energy-inefficient, wasting a large part of the energy used. Since the built environment is the single largest energy consumer in the EU, accounting for 40% of the energy consumption, there is a dire need to act upon this knowledge and to do so at a high pace.
TEST BED PROCESS
Using the grant funding, Keppel Land selected the most interesting technologies to be installed on its structure, acting as a testbed. Out of more than 50 applicants, the technologies piloted included a high-efficiency air distribution system, an innovative cooling tower water management system, integrated sensor technology to optimise fresh air intake, smart LED lighting and an intelligent building-control system.
Can the Keppel Bay Tower testbed approach be used in a European setting and would it help us make current building stock energy efficient at the pace required? I am in no doubt that it would.
A testbed can verify technologies’ proof of concept in an accurate, transparent, and replicable way and keep the test environment shielded from the risks of testing in a live environment.
The fastest way to the green transition is to be more efficient and use less, which is why we should look across borders to find the best solutions and approaches to bring them into operation as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Right now, we cannot rely on climate solutions to lie solely in large-scale solar parks or offshore wind projects like energy islands because the construction time is too long.
As we wait for these new energy islands and other new technologies to be in operation, we must make use of the efficient technologies already at hand—and we need to do it as smartly as possible by using best practices from others.
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