Part 2/5: 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 2/5: System in Time

Welcome to part 2/5 of our ongoing series, on the Energy system of Singapore. The last post established the objective of the system. We then started analysis by first establishing a boundary condition and later identifying the system’s Elements, and the Flows & Exchanges between them. This was done to set relevant scales of study and understand critical functions such as generation, transmission, consumption. We gathered that there is a global scale and 3 local scales for this system – Island, 10 km X 10 km and building. There is a gap at the neighborhood scale. We also found out that the system is highly centralized with high demand from various sectors, the largest being Industrial and Commercial.

Keeping this base work in mind, we move deeper into the analysis and understand the timeline of the system starting all the way from the 1800s to present day. We also look at future aims and targets to address present issues.

The timeline is divided into policies, both Global and Local, important events and corresponding effects of these policies and events.

System in Time

There are maps at Island and regional scales outlining these developments. They for example show location of key infrastructure, regional relations, expansion of built up area and corresponding Urban Heat Island intensity with time.

maps urban and uhi
UHI Intensity increase shows a direct co-relation to increase in built area. Graphic : Credits below; Data Source

The Red system in Time has been divided into 6 stages –We’ll go through some key events, particularly those that affected the built environment, self-sufficiency, energy efficiency, and emissions.

The first stage saw the start of electrification, with the setup of coal-fired power stations.

Around 1940, the system saw the advent of air conditioning which saw a change in building typology – a shift from context specific, passive design to air-conditioned glass boxes that could be placed anywhere.

The post war development saw further power plants being set up to support rapid industrialization. These were now Fuel Oil based plants.

The 1980s oil crisis, led to Building Construction Authority (BCA) Singapore’s OTTV requirements for building design.

The gulf war and the Asian Crisis after the 1990s, showed global vulnerability due to dependence on imports and fossil fuels. This led to a series of global and local measures addressing energy efficiency and climate change – UNFCCC, Kyoto protocol, large shift to Natural Gas in power stations within Singapore, start of BCA’s Green Mark certification programme, 1st District Cooling System in operation and National Environment Agency’s energy efficiency scheme.

1900 -1990s

2010 onward, there was a move towards diversification of Natural Gas resources, and test bedding and research into renewables. The period also saw the ratification of the Paris agreement and the drafting of the Climate Action Plan.

In the future by 2030, Singapore aims to reduce Green House Gas emissions by around 35 per cent w.r.t. 2005. Also, BCA has a target of achieving 80 per cent green buildings by that time. The system could also address the neighborhood gap, and vulnerabilities created due to a centralized system.

1990s to future


We hope you enjoyed this second post, as part of a series elaborating on the Analysis of the Red 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 –

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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