Link to teaching case:
This case focuses on the Singaporean government’s pilot strategy for implementing smart grid technology as a means to empower its energy dependent modern economy. Already blessed with one of the world’s most reliable electric grids system, the Singaporean government remains proactive in providing greater reliability and efficiency through innovation. This trend is highlighted by examining Singapore’s launch of the Intelligent Energy System (IES) project, a two-phase smart grid technology pilot project, which will upgrade electricity delivery systems with digital remote control and automation capabilities.
Singapore’s prosperity and method make it a unique case as its plan to invest in smart grids, rather than addressing any immediate challenge, can be understood as one piece of a larger judiciously crafted long-term urban development plan. The engine for this strong thought and implementation leadership are the decision makers throughout the economic and energy associated government agencies unified in the belief in need for these critical infrastructure investments, and partnering with academia and private industry. At the time of this case investments, such as smart grids, require government initiatives to help private companies and academia progress within the fledgling sector in the face of initially weak cost-benefit analysis due to high initial investment. As a part of Singapore’s larger strategy, IES has been designed with high aspirations to: invest in critical energy infrastructure ahead of demand to make markets more efficient, open new areas for economic development, and strengthen the energy security.
Singapore presents a bold model for energy efficiency, sustainable development, and growth of smart cities that other industrialized but reluctant nations can adopt to become more proactive in their own efforts. The concept of being a ‘sustainable living lab’ initiated by the government shows how the collaboration among the government, private sector partners, and research institutes can facilitate technological innovation that can be applied to solve urban problems within the country. Ultimately Singapore hopes to share the innovations from this work with countries and megacities alike. In the absence of national sustainability strategies in many other countries, Singapore as a city-state can serve as an inspiration and blueprint for the growing number of megacities around the world. Progressively seen as significant economies by themselves, megacities mimicking the Singapore model to pursue infrastructure development will have impacts on sustainability at a global level.