Asia, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewables

Southeast Asia announces first zero-emissions building

Singapore based SP Group has established the first zero-emission building in Southeast Asia that is fully powered by green hydrogen.

Located at SP’s training centre at Woodleigh Park, the self-sustaining building is 100 per cent powered with renewable energy via an innovative Hydrogen Energy System and is disconnected from the national electricity grid.

Mr Brandon Chia, head, Centre of Excellence, SP Group said: “Buildings contribute 40 per cent of energy related carbon emissions worldwide . The Hydrogen Energy System provides a safe and compact way of storing green hydrogen, which powers the region’s first zero-emission building. We believe this can be a significant contributor toward Singapore’s climate change pledge to cut national emissions intensity by 36 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”

In urban places such as Singapore, due to limited land and inconsistent solar energy, achieving zero emission with 100 per cent renewable energy is extremely challenging.

In the Hydrogen Energy System used by SP, electricity from green sources, such as solar, is used to conduct electrolysis. The hydrogen generated from this process is bonded with special metal alloy powders to form metal hydride, compacted and stored in tanks.

When electricity supply is required, the stored hydrogen from the metal hydride tanks is slowly released and converted to electricity via fuel cells. As green energy sources are used for electrolysis, this entire process of converting hydrogen to electricity is 100 per cent green, with zero carbon emission.

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The buildings and building construction sectors combined are responsible for nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions (according to the International Energy Agency).

While there have been other energy systems using hydrogen as a fuel, the key challenge of hydrogen lies in having a storage solution that is safe for deployment in highly-urbanised areas such as Singapore.

The system uses special metal alloy as a storage medium to bond with hydrogen. This allows for the storage of a large volume of hydrogen at a much lower pressure over a long period of time without any deterioration.

When electricity is needed, the stored hydrogen is released in a slow and regulated manner, making it safer and more compact to be stored in an urban setting.

Furthermore, the Hydrogen Energy System can mitigate electricity supply fluctuations and intermittency issues – common shortcomings of renewable energy.

When there is surplus renewable energy, it can be stored in the form of hydrogen and converted back to electricity when there is a deficit of renewable energy. This ensures that the grid remains stable even with a greater mix of renewable energy introduced, hence encouraging the use of green energy.

SP is working with Marubeni Corporation and Tohoku University on the Hydrogen Energy System with special metal alloy storage tanks from Japan, and to customise and integrate it for use in Singapore.