Part 1/5: The Red System (Energy), Singapore

This is part of a series of posts based on scripts, written for class presentations during our Masters in Integrated Sustainable Design at National University of Singapore.
The class had to analyse various complex systems in Singapore, as a precursor to the Design problem in Studio. The systems included are – Red (energy), Blue (Water), Green I (Biodiversity), Green II (Food) and Grey (Public Space).
The following posts elaborate on the Red System.

Part 1/5: What are the Objective, Boundaries, Elements, Flows & Exchanges of the Red System in Singapore?

The ‘objective‘ is established keeping in mind short and long term goals. The short term concern would be to create a resilience to Supply – Demand Balance. For the long term, development needs to be Sustainable and the System should address Environmental Issues.

For the analysis we explore the Systems Thinking approach. For this, we first establish the ‘Boundary‘ conditions for the system. This helps identify Scales and to find Gaps. If the system is reliant on factors outside the country, then there would be a Global scale. Within Singapore, we assume 4 local scales – Island, 10 km X 10 km, Neighborhood and Building.

Next, we break the system into its constituent ‘Elements‘ to understand the ‘Flows & Exchanges‘ between them. This critical understanding helps us find flaws, shortcomings, and even opportunities at every stage. These can then be addressed or exploited to bring about improvements.


Objective of the Red system:

To Manage Flows & Exchanges from various forms of energy, to address Self Sufficiency in a Renewable manner.

Establishing the ‘Boundary’ Condition [1]:

boundary condition

There is a high dependence on imported fossil fuels, hence there is a Global scale. Nested within that, the highly centralized energy system appears primarily as large Power Stations on the Island scale, sparsely at the 10 km X 10 km scale and then directly at the Building scale. Thus, there is a Gap in the system at the Neighbourhood scale.

Elements, ‘Flows & Exchanges:

The ElementsFlows & Exchanges are divided based on Scale and Function.

The Scales are Island, 10 km X 10 km and Building scale. The Functions are– Generation, Transmission, Consumption.


The Elements include, Generation infrastructure using non-renewable and renewable sources at various scales. Then there is an efficient Transmission system- including substations. This leads to main Consumption sectors – Industry, Commercial, Transport, Residential.

flows and exchanges1st page

For the Flows & Exchanges, the fossil fuels are either used directly by mainly industry and transport, or used after electricity generation. The structure is very Centralized and there is a large demand from various sectors. There are also high conversion losses. The highest consumption sectors are Industry and Commercial.



We hope you enjoyed this first post, as part of a series elaborating on the Analysis of the Energy System of Singapore. Do let us know your thoughts about the Red system and other related aspects in the comments section. We would love to take this discussion further!

Look out for further posts from this series in the coming weeks-

14th May 2018 – Part 2/5: System in Time

21st May 2018 – Part 3/5: System Flows & Exchanges

28th May 2018 – Part 4/5: System Structure

4th June 2018 – Part 5/5: How can Energy be restructured to improve Self – Sufficiency and reduce Emissions?



Graphics : All graphics are produced as part of a team project for M.Sc. Integrated Sustainable Design at National University of Singapore (Building Semester – Stage 1 – Complex Living Systems). Group Members – Gajender Kumar Sharma, Aditi Bisen, Huang Hongbo, Zhao Yanming
Script : Aditi Bisen


References/ Additional Reading:

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