PUB: Singapore's National Water Agency

 52,700

Carbon Zero Grand Challenge

The race to act on climate is on and the water sector must do its part. Help us take the world’s water to net zero emissions and beyond!
stage:
Enter
prize:
S$ 6,500,000
Overview

Challenge Overview

 

The S$6.5 million (approximately US$4.8 million) Carbon Zero Grand Challenge seeks to incentivize innovative solutions that can help PUB achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century and scale to water facilities around the globe. PUB is seeking carbon capture, utilization, removal, and other solutions at any technology readiness level that can be integrated with its operations and reach commercial scale within a decade or sooner. 

The grand challenge will have two phases of competition and a pilot-scale demonstration over approximately 45 months. In the Proposal Phase, solvers will submit a detailed proposal addressing net carbon abated, cost, and other critical aspects of their solution. Up to six will be awarded S$250,000 each to develop a Proof of Concept. In the Proof of Concept Phase, solvers will develop a desktop simulation and/or lab-scale study and a detailed design for a pilot project. Up to two will be awarded S$2.5 million each to demonstrate a ~1 kiloton-scale version of their solution at a PUB facility in Singapore.

Click the Guidelines tab to learn more about this challenge and help us take the world’s water to net zero emissions and beyond!
 

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

 

Background

As an island city-state, Singapore’s geography inherently limits its access to natural resources. For this reason, Singapore has always been an innovator and a leader in identifying clean, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for energy, water, and the environment.

PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, manages the nation’s water supply, water catchment, and used water in an integrated way. In 2020, PUB also took on the responsibility of protecting Singapore’s coastline from sea-level rise as the national coastal protection agency. 

The global water sector contributes approximately 5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but has not yet received significant attention in climate debates. Although Singapore’s local water sector’s emissions represent less than 1.5% of the city-state’s total emissions, in today’s climate, every contribution counts. 

The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was published in August this year, reinforced the reality that urgent and aggressive action is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, as committed to in the Paris Agreement. Every sector must play its role, including the water sector. That is why PUB has set a goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. 

The Carbon Zero Grand Challenge seeks to focus the attention of innovators, investors, and thought leaders on water sector emissions in order to accelerate the deployment of innovative solutions to address Singapore’s net zero carbon emission goals and scale to water facilities around the globe.

Emissions to be Addressed in this Grand Challenge

As an organization, PUB’s emissions in 2020 is approximately 460 kt CO2e as reported in PUB’s Sustainability Report 2020/2021. To achieve its net-zero goal, PUB will need to implement new technologies and solutions to address emissions associated with its water facilities. PUB has built a robust and diversified supply of water, including NEWater facilities that recycle used water and desalination facilities that convert seawater to drinking water (see FIGURE 1). 

However, many of these processes are inherently energy-intensive and PUB’s emissions are projected to increase with population rise and economic growth in the coming decades. By mid-century, emissions could double to 1 MtCO2e.

PUB is already working to reduce its carbon footprint by replacing carbon-emitting energy sources with solar PV deployed on facility rooftops and at reservoirs, and reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency, lowering desalination energy and conservation. These efforts are expected to abate approximately 600 kt CO2e/year of emissions by mid-century.

While current efforts can reduce PUB’s future carbon footprint substantially, PUB is seeking solutions to remove an additional 400 kt CO2e/year associated with its facilities that will require solutions such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and carbon removal (see FIGURE 1 and TABLE 1).

FIGURE 1.

PUB Water Loop

Diagram

Description automatically generated

TABLE 1.

Projected Emissions from PUB

Description

Annual Estimated Projection

Total PUB emissions

1,000 kt CO2e

Emissions for which solutions have already been identified

600 kt CO2e

Emissions requiring new solutions (focus of this grand challenge)

400 kt CO2e

Scope 1 emissions (within emissions requiring new solutions)

200 kt CO2e

Scope 2 emissions (within emissions requiring new solutions) 

200 kt CO2e

PUB’s projected Scope 1 emissions that will require new solutions (200 kt CO2e/year) are associated with its four water reclamation facilities and come from two sources:

  • Approximately 100 kt CO2e/year from anaerobic digester processes that result in an emissions stream containing approximately 35% carbon dioxide; 62% biomethane; and 3% mixed gases that are primarily hydrogen sulfide and nitrous oxide.
  • Approximately 100 kt CO2e/year of mostly nitrous oxide emissions from nitrification/denitrification that happens in the aerobic wastewater treatment processes.

FIGURE 2 illustrates a typical water reclamation process and the sources of Scope 1 emissions.

FIGURE 2.

Typical Water Reclamation Process and Scope 1 Emissions

The remaining Scope 2 emissions (200 kt CO2e/year) are due to the electricity used to power PUB’s facilities, for example water treatment plants, desalination plants, NEWater Factories and used water treatment plants.

Approaches In-Scope for this Grand Challenge

This grand challenge seeks solutions that 1) directly address emissions associated with PUB’s water facilities, as described in the section above; and 2) have the potential to be deployed at commercial scale within a decade or sooner. Such solutions may include:

  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies that can be integrated with PUB’s water treatment or desalination operations
  • Approaches for addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with PUB’s facilities, while still maintaining PUB’s ambition to achieve energy self-sufficiency through the use of biogas/biomethane generated from anaerobic digestion
  • Approaches for carbon dioxide removal (CDR), that remove CO2 from the atmosphere that could be integrated with PUB operations
  • Approaches for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) that remove CO2 from seawater that could be integrated with PUB operations
  • Any other approaches that directly address emissions associated with PUB’s water facilities and are not out of scope, as described below

Solutions that do not directly reduce or remove GHG emissions associated with PUB’s water facilities are out of scope for this grand challenge. These include:

  • Approaches to replace grid power used by PUB’s facilities with commercially available renewable power generation sources, such as rooftop solar PV
  • Approaches involving tree planting, soil sequestration, or similar offset schemes
  • Approaches addressing any Scope 1 emissions associated with vehicles or travel
  • Approaches addressing any Scope 1 or Scope 2 emissions associated with building heating or cooling systems

Grand Challenge Structure and Timeline

The grand challenge will focus on accelerating the development of innovative concepts through proof of concept and an initial field demonstration. The grand challenge will include two phases of competition and a pilot-scale demonstration, as follows:

  • Proposal Phase: Solvers will submit a proposal for their solution, including any relevant data or other credible supporting information; up to six1 will be chosen to move onto the next phase
  • Proof of Concept Phase: Solvers will develop a desktop simulation and/or lab-scale study based on PUB’s conditions (which will be outlined in the submission template) and a detailed design for a pilot project; up to two will be chosen to develop a pilot project
  • Pilot Project: Winners from the Proof of Concept Phase will build and demonstrate an approximately 1 kiloton-scale version of their solution at a PUB facility in Singapore and develop a plan to achieve commercial scale within a decade or sooner

The grand challenge will last a total of approximately 45 months, including approximately 21 months for the two phases of competition and 24 months for the pilot project. TABLE 2 provides the expected timeline for the grand challenge.

TABLE 2.

Grand Challenge Expected Timeline

Description

Duration

Date(s)

Grand Challenge opens; Proposal Phase commences

--

October 19, 2021

Solvers register and develop submissions 

4 months

October 2021 – February 2022

Proposal Phase registration deadline and submission deadline

--

February 24, 2022 

Proposal Phase evaluation 

3 months

March – May 2022 

Proposal Phase awards announced

--

June 2022

Proof of Concept Phase commences; Solvers selected to participate in this phase develop proof-of-concept submissions

9 months

June 2022 to March 2023 

Proof of Concept Phase submission deadline

--

March 2023

Proof of Concept Phase evaluation

3 months

Q2/Q3 2023

Proof of Concept Phase awards announced 

--

Q3 2023

Pilot Project, including 6-12 months of operation

24 months

Q3 2023 to Q3 2025 

______________

1 PUB is seeking to select a variety of solutions that address emissions in different ways to move forward to the Proof of Concept Phase and the Pilot Project Phase. However, the distribution of awards across solutions or types of technology will ultimately depend on the quality of submissions.

 

Key Performance Criteria

In the Proposal Phase and the Proof of Concept Phase, solvers must address the Key Performance Criteria for this grand challenge, as described in TABLE 3.

TABLE 3.

Key Performance Criteria for this Grand Challenge

CriteriaDescription

Calculation/ 

Unit of Measurement

Net carbon abatedThe amount of CO2e permanently reduced or removed annually-Expressed in CO2 equivalent (CO2e)
CostThe projected cost per metric ton of CO2e abated for the solution at full commercial scale (100 kt/yr)

-Expressed in S$/metric ton of CO2e

-Using the techno-economic analysis guidelines explained below

FootprintThe physical footprint of the solution at pilot scale (approximately 1 kt/year) and at full commercial scale (100 kt/year)-Expressed in m2

Techno-Economic Analysis Guidelines

For the techno-economic analysis, solvers should provide cost estimates that are reasonably accurate and precise, and presented in such a way that the major cost factors can be broken out and analyzed for error, uncertainty, and sensitivity. The analysis should include all costs over the life of the project on a levelized basis.

Solvers should calculate cost as follows:

S$/tonne of CO2e abated =

(Capital Expense plus Operating Expense minus Revenues) 

divided by # of metric tons of CO2e abated

Where:

  • Capital Expense includes materials, equipment, and any other capital expenditures
  • Operating Expense includes energy, chemicals or other process inputs, personnel, maintenance, and any other operating expenditures
  • Revenues include proceeds from the sale of any product derived from CO2 captured and utilized by the project
  • The standard cost of electricity is S$110/MWh
  • The emission factor for grid electricity is 0.4 kg CO2 per kWh
  • The standard Discount Rate is 4%
  • To convert costs to Singapore dollars (S$), solvers should use the exchange rates listed for October 19, 2021 at the website: https://www.x-rates.com/historical/?from=SGD&amount=1&date=2021-10-19

Awards

This grand challenge will offer up to S$6.5 million (approximately US$4.8 million)2 in awards and an opportunity to demonstrate a pilot-scale version of the solution at a PUB facility in Singapore. 

Solvers will be selected for an award at the end of the Proposal Phase (up to 6 winners with S$250,000 each) and at the end of the Proof of Concept Phase (up to 2 winners with S$2.5 million each). To receive an award, solvers must accept the Conditions of Contract. See the Conditions of Contract template here. Solvers will not receive the total award funding upfront when the award is announced; rather, solvers will propose (and PUB will need to approve) a payment schedule based on key technical milestones for personnel and reimbursable expenses associated with activities that will be conducted in the subsequent phase. The payment schedule and reimbursable expenses will be part of the submission requirement for each of the two phases of competition. 

For example, Solver A is selected for an award based on their Proposal Phase submission. Solver A is now eligible to receive up to S$250,000 over the course of the Proof of Concept Phase. In their Proposal Phase submission, Solver A proposed S$50,000 for reimbursable expenses and two payments for personnel based on technical milestones: one for S$50,000 that occurs when the lab-scale equipment has been set up and one for S$150,000 that occurs when Solver A submits their Proof of Concept Phase submission. If PUB agrees to this payment schedule and Solver A meets both milestones and provides receipts/invoices for the reimbursable expenses, Solver A will receive all payments, totaling S$250,000.

TABLE 4 summarizes the award distribution.

TABLE 4.

Award Distribution for the Grand Challenge

AwardeesTotal Amount AvailableAmount Available Per AwardeePayment Schedule
Proposal Phase WinnersS$1,500,000

S$250,000 

X 6 awards

Based on milestones and reimbursable expenses proposed by the solver and approved by PUB; all milestones and reimbursable expenses must be completed by the Proof of Concept Phase submission deadline (March 2023)
Proof of Concept Phase WinnersS$5,000,000

S$2,500,000 

X 2 awards

Based on milestones and reimbursable expenses proposed by the solver and approved by PUB; all milestones and reimbursable expenses must be completed by the end of the Pilot Project (Q3 2025)

_________________

2 This amount reflects currency exchange rates accessed on October 6, 2021 found here: https://www.x-rates.com/calculator/?from=SGD&to=USD&amount=6500000

 

How do I compete?

To participate in the grand challenge, solvers must: 

  • Register to compete on the grand challenge website
  • Complete and execute the Team Agreement
  • Complete and submit the submission forms below by the applicable deadlines

How do I win?

To receive funding in this grand challenge, solvers must:

  • Propose a credible budget and milestones
  • Demonstrate one of the best solutions to be selected for an award
  • Execute your project plan and achieve your proposed milestones!

Proposal Phase: Submission

All elements of the Proposal Phase submission described below must be submitted by February 24, 2022, at 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Note that any optional supplementary materials that are submitted may or may not be reviewed and considered, at the judging panel’s discretion. All character limits include spaces. Submissions must be submitted using the online submission form.

Section 1: Introduction

  1. Title (50 characters max)
  2. Short Description (140 characters max)
  3. Image (png or jpeg)

Section 2: Company Information: complete if submitting as part of a company

  1. Company name (if any)
  2. Company website (if any)
  3. Date of incorporation (if applicable)
  4. Location of HQ (if applicable)
  5. Which other countries do your company operate in? (if applicable)
  6. No. of employees (if applicable)
  7. Current stage of funding (if applicable)

Section 3: Team Information

  1. Name of contact person
  2. Designation of contact person
  3. Email
  4. Mobile no.
  5. Brief description of your key team members
  6. Location of key team members
  7. CVs of key team members
  8. Principal Investigator name, designation, organisation, role/expertise
  9. Covering Principal Investigator name, designation, organisation, role/expertise (if applicable)
  10. Collaborator Team Members name, designation, organisation, role/expertise (if applicable)

Section 4: Your submission

  1. Short Description of Solution: Brief description of the solution that may be shared on the grand challenge website or other public platforms (Do not include any confidential information in this description) (300 characters)
     
  2. Rationale for the Solution and Innovation
    1. Background of the proposed solution (18,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Technical description and key features of the proposed solution
      2. Explanation of how the proposed solution addresses the grand challenge and how the solution can be integrated with PUB’s operations
      3. Detailed description of any Intellectual Property (IP) developed and any prior agreements or licenses for the project
      4. Description of the innovative aspects of the solution
         
    2. Track Record (9,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Description of relevant past projects, including scope of works and key results
      2. Information on the current state of development for this solution (results of any trials which have been completed to date or successful case studies)
         
    3. Competitive Advantage (9,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Address what direct/indirect competition or current commercially available competing solutions are in the market globally and what is the proposed solution’s competitive advantage
      2. Highlight technical differences of your solution compared to those current technologies that have been mentioned in the challenge statements
         
    4. (Optional) Any additional supplementary materials (PDF, 5 pages maximum)
       
  3. Projected Performance on the Key Performance Criteria
    1. Net carbon abated (6,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
       
    2. Cost  (6,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
       
    3. Footprint  (1,500 characters, image uploads allowed)
       
    4. (Optional) Any additional supplementary materials, such as a more detailed techno-economic analysis (Microsoft Word or Excel or PDF Upload; 5 pages maximum for Word/PDF documents and 100MB limit for Excel spreadsheets)
       
  4. Development Plan
    1. Project Plan - Part 1 (1,500 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Total Duration of Project (in months)
      2. Summarize how the project implementation will be carried out and list key objectives.
         
    2. Project Plan - Part 2 (3,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. List the individual project tasks and their corresponding deliverables. For each task, describe the approach/method to be used.
         
    3. Project Plan - Part 3 (3,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Describe the technology development pathway for the solution to achieve full commercial scale in a decade or sooner.
         
    4. Risk Assessment (3,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Assessment of technical and other risks and risk mitigation strategy
         
  5. Project Budget and Milestones
    1. Budget (PDF of completed budget template in Appendix A)
      1. Detailed project budget to develop the proof of concept including costs related to materials, equipment, personnel, professional fees, travel, and any other relevant expenses
         
    2. Milestones (3,000 characters, image uploads allowed)
      1. Proposed technical milestones and payment schedule to develop the proof of concept (milestones and reimbursements must be completed by the Proof of Concept Phase submission deadline of March 2023)

 

Proposal Phase: Evaluation

In the Proposal Phase, solvers will be evaluated on the submission elements described above. The judging panel will consider how well each submission element addresses the goals of the grand challenge (as described in the Background section of these guidelines), as well as the completeness and credibility of each element. 

The weightage for each element is as described in TABLE 5. Up to the 6 best solutions will be selected for the award in this phase.

TABLE 5.

Weightage for each Submission Element in the Proposal Phase

Submission Element

Weightage (%)

Rationale for the Solution and Innovation

30

Projected Performance

  • Net Carbon Abated
  • Cost
  • Footprint

40

Development Plan and

Project Budget and Milestones

30

TOTAL WEIGHTAGE

100

Proof of Concept Phase: Submission

All elements of the Proof of Concept Phase submission described below must be completed and submitted by the deadline. This deadline is expected to be approximately nine months following the commencement of the Proof of Concept Phase. An exact date and time for the deadline will be posted on the grand challenge website following the announcement of the Proposal Phase awards. 

Solvers will follow a template that will be provided after the Proof of Concept Phase commences

  1. Short Description of Solution (Updated): Brief description of the solution that may be shared on the grand challenge website or other public platforms (Do not include any confidential information in this description)
     
  2. Description/Results of Proof of Concept. This will include:
    1. Lab-scale study or simulation - report that includes data or supplemental information, PUB conditions will be related to outputs of its facilities (solvers may have already demonstrated in other locations)
    2. How solution will be integrated with PUB’s operations
    3. Design for pilot scale - drawings, additional technical details
       
  3. Proof of Concept Performance. Description of how the proof of concept addressed the Key Performance Criteria for this grand challenge:
    1. Net carbon abated
    2. Cost
    3. Footprint
       
  4. Development Plan. Plan for demonstrating the solution in a pilot project including:
    1. All project tasks, deliverables, and timeline; and
    2. Assessment of technical and other risks and risk mitigation strategy
       
  5. Project Budget and Milestones
    1. Detailed project budget including costs related to materials, equipment, personnel, professional fees, and travel to design and develop the pilot project
    2. Proposed technical milestones and payment schedule to develop the pilot project (milestones and reimbursements must be completed by the end of the Pilot Project in Q3 2025)
    3. Description of technology development pathway for the solution to achieve full commercial scale in a decade or sooner.

 

Proof of Concept Phase: Evaluation Criteria

In the Proof of Concept Phase, solvers will be evaluated on the submission elements described above. The judging panel will consider how well each submission element addresses the goals of the grand challenge (as described in the Background section of these guidelines), as well as the completeness and credibility of each element. 

The weightage for each element is as described in TABLE 6. Up to the 2 best solutions will be selected for the award in this phase.

TABLE 6.

Weightage for each Submission Element in the Proof of Concept Phase

Submission Element

Weightage (%)

Description/Results of Proof of Concept

30

Proof of Concept Performance

  • Net Carbon Abated
  • Cost
  • Footprint

40

Development Plan and

Project Budget and Milestones

30

TOTAL WEIGHTAGE

100

 

 

 

Timeline
Updates 2

Challenge Updates

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Nov. 16, 2021, 9 a.m. PST by Lulu

Have you thought about forming a team to compete in the Carbon Zero Grand Challenge?

Teams can be formed directly on the challenge page by connecting in the forum.

Some of the advantages of forming a team include:

1. Accountability

Those deadlines are less likely to get away from you when you’re working with a group.

2. Shared workload

You know the old “divide and conquer?”  It works well for challenges! By finding a solid collaborative stride, a group of just three people can churn out a lot more than one person working alone.

3. Camaraderie

It might be hard for other people to relate to your lone wolf journey toward incentive competition conquest, but your team will be right there with you! A source of inspiration, motivation, and perhaps even fire-under-your-butt lighting, teammates can provide a huge emotional advantage. Just think - new internet friends!

4. Specialization

Maybe you’re a real visionary with an incredible concept, but are stuck on how the “nuts and bolts” fit together? Yeah, YOU need a team. Teammates who have the skills and special working knowledge can be a huge resource. And the benefits go both ways!

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your team will take some time to come together, so be sure to get ahead of it and start recruiting, reaching out, and networking about the challenge now. The forum is a great place to start. Also, feel free to browse the entire HeroX Community by specialization by checking out https://herox.com/crowdsourcing-community. 


All About the Forum

Nov. 2, 2021, 9 a.m. PDT by Lulu

Maybe you've had some questions, thoughts, or ideas about the challenge so far -- but you're still wondering where to take them? In fact, there's a quick, easy-to-use way to ask questions and start conversations about the Carbon Zero Grand Challenge: the challenge forum.  

Interested? Simply go to the forum to see what people are already saying. If you'd like to start a new conversation, click "New topic" (pictured below) and begin crafting your message. 

This is a great way to start connecting with other community members around different aspects of the challenge, gain insights, and even collaborate! Keep in mind that HeroX regularly checks in on the forum, so it's also a great way to get in touch with us about any questions (or suggestions) you might have. 

Hope you found this helpful! 


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