Natural gas doesn’t get much attention in energy source discussions, for better or for worse. It may not be as sexy as renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal and the like, but it burns more cleanly than coal and oil and is also relatively available and cheaper. Because of these qualities, no one pays much attention to it since it’s not offensive enough to stop using, but that hasn’t deterred City Energy from exploring even greener alternatives.

Previously known as City Gas, the 160-year-old company rebranded in December last year as part of a new commitment to supporting the Singapore Green Plan 2030 by providing green energy solutions. Among these is the use of green hydrogen.

(Related: Decarbonating with Lion Brewery Co)

Natural gas is used as a partial feedstock to produce town gas, which mainly comprises hydrogen and methane. “The way hydrogen molecules are extracted makes hydrogen green,” City Energy CEO Perry Ong explains. “We could, for example, use renewable sources of electricity to power the electrolysis process that separates hydrogen from water. Water itself must also come from a sustainable source.”

Grey hydrogen is the most common type of hydrogen produced today, resulting from the energy- intensive steam reforming. City Energy has also been using this method, but it is working with partners like Woodside Energy, Keppel Data Centres, Osaka Gas Singapore and City-OG Gas Energy Services to study the feasibility of a long-term, stable supply of green liquid hydrogen from Australia to Singapore.

Perry Ong

As Singapore’s sole provider of piped town gas, City Energy supplies over 870,000 homes and businesses. “Fifty per cent of the town gas we produce is made with hydrogen, which makes us the largest carrier of hydrogen in Singapore. As a result, we are in a unique position to figure out how to help the nation embrace green hydrogen,” says Ong. “As the sustainability movement gained momentum, we decided it was time to transform ourselves from a single-commodity company into one that provides green energy solutions.”

Still only in his second year at City Energy, Ong has already expanded the company’s services into the lifestyle sector by introducing Life by City Energy and Go by City Energy. In the former, Ong is working with technology partners to develop greener and smarter, IoT-enabled appliances such as timer-controlled gas hobs and water heaters powered by green gas. Go by City Energy will also install EV charging stations for electric vehicles, aligning with the nation’s goal to do away with combustion engines by 2040.

“I believe we are making great progress, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Singapore—both on its governmental and population level—has the determination to go green,” shares Ong. “While education is definitely an important aspect, I think making the choice to go green easy for Singaporeans is just as important. If we can put forth solutions that people can adopt without too much trouble, I believe many will want to do their part for the planet.”

(Related: How GS Sareen achieved carbon neutrality for his flagship brand, Radar Tyres)