PR: Society faces a dual challenge: how to make a transition to a low-carbon energy future to manage the risks of climate change, while also extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone on the planet. In Asia, where urbanisation, living standards and population growth continue to increase, energy demand is higher than ever and is growing fast, with consumption levels increasing.

This was the key topic of discussion at the Powering Progress Together Forum that took place in Singapore today. Themed “Energy for Better Living”, the forum brought together over 150 people representing the brightest minds across diverse sectors of society together in an immersive dialogue centred on Asian growth aspirations and the imminent energy challenge facing the region.

Speakers included leaders from both business and government sectors: Dr Cheong Koon Hean (Chief Executive Officer, Housing & Development Board, Singapore), Steffen Endler (Senior Vice President, Siemens Pte Ltd), Mark Gainsborough (Executive Vice President, New Energies, Royal Dutch Shell), Alexandre Lalumiere (Director, Client Sales of 3D Printing, Asia Pacific & Japan, HP), and Nathan Subramaniam (Director, Sector and Projects Division, Independent Evaluation, Asian Development Bank).

Moderated by Jason Pomeroy, Founding Principal of the Pomeroy Studio, the discussion was lively but sobering. The panel shared their perspectives on how the global energy transition will require unprecedented collaboration between policy- makers, leaders from business and non-governmental organisations, and consumers. It also requires focusing on more than the promotion of renewables and energy efficiency as these only address specific aspects of the wider challenge.

Shell recognises the role of energy in enabling a decent quality of life. While technological developments will emerge, multi-sector collaboration to drive effective policy and cultural change is essential to drive low-carbon business and consumer choices and opportunities.

Now in its second year in Singapore, Powering Progress Together is an annual forum, where leaders and stakeholders gather to discuss ideas on how to address Asia’s future energy challenges. The forum will also be held in London, UK and San Francisco, USA later this year.
According to the United Nations, continuing population growth is projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. In the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, energy supply is expected to go up by 60 per cent by 2035 to meet the growing demand associated with the rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic growth taking place. As Asia rapidly urbanises, it needs to do so while reducing its carbon footprint.

Societies and governments thus face a dual challenge: how to make the transition to a lower-carbon world while also ensuring more and cleaner energy for economies to expand and prosper.

“Energy is a vital hidden ingredient in almost every economy, and cities are the biggest users of energy. Occupying less than two per cent of the world’s landmass, and hosting more than half of the world’s population, cities account for more than 60 per cent of global energy use today and this number is estimated to rise to 80 per cent by 2040. Fundamental changes need to happen across the global economy, especially in power, transport, buildings and industry which produce significant carbon dioxide emissions,” said Goh Swee Chen, Vice President, City Solutions – New Energies and Chairman, Shell Companies in Singapore.

She added, “Powering Progress Together is important because it is a venue for us to bring people with bright ideas together to discuss, debate and engage on the important topic of delivering more energy and cleaner energy.”

“We are living in an era of unprecedented urbanisation. The issue of sustainable development has rightly taken centrestage: much of the public debate on sustainability revolves around reducing carbon emissions and increasing the use of green technology for energy sources,” said Dr Cheong Koon Hean.

She added, “However, technology is only an enabler in solving the challenges associated with sustainable urban development. Sustainability can only be attained when a comprehensive and holistic approach is taken, starting with strategic planning choices on how we optimise our land and resources, and develop in an environmentally-responsible manner.

“Following this, we can harness the appropriate technologies to tackle urban and environmental issues. As a city state which is land and resource constrained, Singapore will have to turn to integrated urban solutions which strengthen the water-energy-waste nexus and supply part of our energy needs from renewable energy such as those generated from solar PV. We should also adopt smart technologies to help us to manage our urban services in a more energy efficient manner.”

The discussion continued with two roundtables, each designed to engage industry stakeholders on the following topics:
• Powering Progress Together Roundtable on How Technology is Revolutionising
Manufacturing and Supply Chain (in partnership with HP) – How modern technology can be implemented to enable sustainable manufacturing and create efficiencies within the supply chain.
• Powering Progress Roundtable on Accelerating Accelerators – How corporates can partner governments, investors, and each other for a more collaborative
accelerator space.

Bright energy start-ups at #IdeaRefinery
Turning talk into action, this year’s Powering Progress Together forum also showcased promising Singapore start-ups selected in the inaugural Shell #IdeaRefinery accelerator programme by Shell Singapore, ImpacTech and NUS Enterprise that are developing new energy solutions in support of Singapore’s ambition to be a sustainable and smart nation. The start-ups are billionBricks, EnergyNova, Solarite, Tripledot Technologies, and Xnergy.

Students imagine the future of Asian and Middle Eastern cities
Shell’s Imagine the Future Scenarios Competition brings together youths and millennials to discuss future possibilities and develop scenarios on how our cities would look like by
2050 based on this year’s theme, “More and cleaner energy in urban Asian and Middle
Eastern homes in 2050: How we live, work, and play.”

A total of 84 university students and more than12 teams from Singapore, Thailand and Egypt took part in the competition. The Singapore team of Yale-NUS College was named the champion at the regional finals that took place on Monday (5 March). The winning national teams from each country shared their contrasting visions of future Asian and Middle Eastern cities by 2050 at this year’s Powering Progress Together Forum.