Event Summary: Water Resource Recovery Dialogue between Denmark and Singapore
Updated: Jun 28
On May 11th 2021 close to 100 water professionals dialed in as key experts, practitioners, and industry players from Singapore and Denmark discussed the next phase of innovation within water resource recovery. The event doubled as a lead-up to a high-level dialogue between Singapore and Denmark during Singapore International Water Week 2021.
See the full programme and background of the May 11th event here.
In the following article, we summarize main take-home messages from the event hosted by Singapore Water Association and co-organized by The Danish Export Association (Water), Access Cities, Climate-KIC, City of Copenhagen, City of Aarhus, Confederation of Danish Industry, The Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore, Quercus Group, and State of Green.
You may also access the full recording here.
The line-up of speakers consisted of:
HE Sandra Jensen Landi, Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore
PUB's Future Resource Recovery Strategy and Plan
Dr. Pang Chee Meng, Chief Engineering & Technology Officer, Public Utilities Board under Singapore's National Water Agency
Regulation as a Driver for Wastewater Management and Resource Recovery in Denmark and in Europe
Panel discussion 1: Implementation, Drivers and Ecosystems of a Resource Recovery Roadmap
Panel discussion 2: Resource Recovery: Innovation and Solutions of Tomorrow
Welcome Address by HE. Ms Sandra Jensen Landi
Denmark and Singapore have a framework for collaboration in place. Last year, our Ministers agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out a clear work program involving an exchange of information, promotion of ties between government bodies, study visits, public-private partnerships and pilot projects, and more.
Denmark has set some ambitious climate goals and milestones. All our efforts go to ensuring that by 2025, we see a 50-54% reduction in emissions and climate neutrality by 2050.
To achieve this goal, we need partnerships and a drive to work together on this sustainability journey.
Main take home messages from PUB's Future Resource Recovery Strategy and Plan by Dr. Pang Chee Meng
Singapore's National Water Agency (PUB) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment which manages Singapore's entire water system. The loop, which is central to the agency's circular economy structure has a strong focus on saltwater management.
PUB faces several challenges that stem from Singapore's geographical location and changing demand for water. These challenges include land constraints, water scarcity, lack of natural resources and an ageing population. In addition to this, PUB expects water to demand to double by 2060. With the existing technologies PUB has, 3 times more energy is needed to meet this demand and 2 times as much sludge will be generated.
Water as a resource is precious for Singapore and conservation efforts are extensive across several areas which include desalination and recycling. Ensuring energy is generated in sustainable fashion and its usage is efficient is crucial for Singapore. Efforts seek to harness alternative and greener energies to substitute current sources. To aid this process, PUB aims to upgrade its water management systems to be more AI enabled to help in the management of energy intensive processes.
Achieving zero waste is another goal for PUB. To meet its goal of reducing sludge sent to landfill, 2 approaches are considered. The first approach looks to produce less sludge and the second targets resource recovery from sludge.
Regulation as a Driver for Wastewater Management and Resource Recovery in Denmark and in Europe by Mr. Jóannes Jørgen Gaard
To understand the drivers of climate neutrality and ascertain an acceptable level of discharge, the Ministry of Environment of Denmark looks at international recommendations, EU directives as well as the local landscape to formulate Danish regulation on both a national and local level.
Specific information can be found in the slide deck attached.
Q&A Summary of Panel Discussion 1: Implementation, Drivers and Ecosystems of a Resource Recovery Roadmap
Question: "Where some see waste, we see resources." What are some key factors that play a role as catalysts as in government agencies, cities and agencies that push for resource recovery?
Mr. Kunal Shah: There are a few key factors such as economics, regulation and necessities of our population. Coming from an economic perspective, reusing our water with the technologies we have may be cheaper than desalinating water. Regulation spurs incentive. Resource recovery is going to be mainstream and not an option. Thus, the interconnections between economics, regulation and sociopolitical factors play a notable role in this process.
Mr. Nick Ahrensberg: Being one of the biggest companies in Denmark, we recognize our social responsibility and therefore our strategy and key performance indicators are kept high.
Dr. Mamta Jain: From a Southeast Asian perspective, economics and regulatory drivers are really important. Going forward, I see a strong need from the agencies to leverage on economic and regulatory drivers to meet our joint sustainability needs. Impact assessments are also crucial, and stronger thrusts to be sustainable stem from the type of funding involved as well.
Question: What are the lowest hanging avenues that cities can explore to ensure better resource recovery?
Mr. Christian Nyreup Nielsen: Taking an integrated approach across all the infrastructure systems, such as water, waste, climate resilience and mobility is key to provide for the larger scale projects. Low hanging fruits may be found by examining budgets allocated and systems in place. This helps create buy-in from stakeholders and the public as well.
Q&A Summary of Panel Discussion 2: Resource Recovery: Innovation and Solutions of Tomorrow
Question: What are some key challenges and hindrances of innovation that are occurring in the resource recovery space?
Mr Gua Eng Hock: Mindset is one of the biggest challenges. In terms of resource recovery, whenever we talk about waste, we try to pinpoint who owns the waste. If you work directly on the wastewater treatment project, you may come across clients that are not that interested or as open to those new concepts as they simply want to get rid of their wastewater, which they view as their production byproduct.
Mr Christian Wieth: Anytime you come in with a new technology or innovation, you need to ensure it works technically and commercially. In our case, we end up producing biochar with 10 times less volume and weight than the sludge itself so we need to find and set up a new value chain to use the biochar on soil. As an example, the people that are handling and transporting the sludge have no real interest in sludge minimization technologies because we're taking away 90% of the handling they do. The legislation also has to be updated to manage the new type of resource.
Question: To keep up with technological innovation, we need business model innovation, policy innovation and process innovation to complement it. From your point of view, where are we headed in terms of the next phase of innovation?
Mr Ryan Kwa: Innovation to me is just a phrase to describe doing things differently. It's impact and the process of it coming about is circumstantial as well. To elaborate, as people generally like to find ways to complete tasks easier, that appears to be the source of innovation. Given the strong focus on clean energies to achieve carbon neutrality and the shift to less-labour intensive work spaces, that can be suggested to be the source of innovation.
Contact the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore for more information about business opportunities and how Denmark seeks to inspire green transition in Southeast Asia:
Mark Edward Perry
Senior Commercial Advisor at Royal Danish Embassy Singapore
Phone: +65 9088 5567
Join Green Denmark in Southeast Asia