Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the National Energy Efficiency Conference on 4 October 2023
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good morning. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s National Energy Efficiency Conference. I understand that there are over 400 participants gathered here today. This is an excellent opportunity to learn from one other, in making our businesses and operations more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
2 Today, we affirm the outstanding efforts and commitment of those receiving the Energy Efficiency National Partnership Awards, or EENP Awards for short. They are role models for all businesses and help Singapore’s companies achieve our net zero goals.
Challenges and Opportunities
3 Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Based on the 2023 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global surface temperatures in the past decade have reached 1.1oC above pre-industrial levels. The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record globally. We have seen record weather conditions such as heat waves, drought, and floods in many parts of the world.
4 We are at an inflexion point where our climate actions today will shape the future for generations to come. The need to accelerate action to address the threat of climate change is real and pressing. The manufacturing industry, being the largest contributor of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions, is poised to lead the path towards achieving our net zero emissions targets.
5 With increasing focus on sustainability in global supply chains, our businesses must prioritise decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures, not only to reduce the environmental impact but also to enhance their bottom lines. Pursuing such initiatives leads to reduced energy costs and enhanced operational efficiency. This could be something as simple as having more efficient lighting or air-conditioning systems that consume less energy. Businesses will be able to reap higher returns as carbon and energy prices trend higher and to meet the increasing global scrutiny on supply chain sustainability.
6 The EENP awards recognise companies that have rallied and taken such concrete steps. This year, there are 18 EENP Awards recipients across five categories.
7 To recognise more pathways towards the desired outcomes, NEA expanded the scope of the EENP Awards this year. The awards now recognise not just energy efficiency efforts, but also other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
8 One such initiative was implemented by the Best Practices award winner, Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company (SSMC). SSMC pioneered large-scale Plasma Scrubber Gas Abatement technology at its plant in Singapore, which reduced the emission of waste Perfluorocarbon (PFC) gases, a high Global Warming Potential greenhouse gas, by up to 95%. This resulted in a net carbon abatement of about 87,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year, or the annual carbon emissions of more than 30,000 cars.
9 Such efforts, which go beyond reducing carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency, can and need to be part of the toolkit for greenhouse gas management. This year, the Excellence in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Management Award sees a record number of award recipients. All six award recipients placed emphasis in embedding energy and GHG management across their business functions. They also demonstrated exemplary leadership to set goals and take actions to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions.
10 The EENP awards also recognise small and medium enterprises or SMEs. While SMEs may not have the same resources and technical expertise as their larger counterparts, they often can implement changes more swiftly, making them highly adaptable in adopting sustainability practices. In June this year, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) released the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) S2, which is a standard on climate related disclosures, where Scope 3 disclosure is required for compliance. When large companies work towards meeting this standard, they will demand decarbonisation across their supply chains, including from their smaller suppliers.
11 I am thus glad to note that this year has also the highest number of award recipients under the Outstanding SME award category since its inception in 2020. For Onn Wah Precision Engineering Pte Ltd, one of the three Outstanding SME award recipients, pursuing sustainability is not an afterthought. Implementing energy efficiency initiatives has helped improve the company’s bottom line through reduced energy costs and bolstered its market competitiveness. It took on several retrofits including changing its fluorescent lights to more energy efficient LED lights and rectifying leaks in the compressed air system. To track its energy use, Onn Wah installed an integrated Energy Monitoring Information System (EMIS) with over 100 sensors in its distribution boards. Through these initiatives, Onn Wah reduced its energy usage per revenue dollar by 24% from 2019 to 2022.
Support from the Government
12 We recognise that businesses may at times need support in their sustainability journey. I would encourage businesses to tap on existing government grants and related programmes that can help businesses defray the rising electricity costs by switching to more energy efficient equipment. These include NEA’s Energy Efficiency Fund and Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Sustainability Programme.
13 For example, PLC Industries Pte Ltd, another Outstanding SME award recipient from the precision engineering sector, is tapping on ESG’s Enterprise Sustainability Programme to build capabilities in measuring and reporting emissions, and to develop a decarbonisation roadmap. They have also initiated projects such as the installation of 234 solar panels and the replacement of 81 lighting points that resulted in annual cost savings of over S$33,000. These projects have reaped energy efficiency improvements and savings that would pay for itself within five to six years.
14 Singapore had also introduced the International Carbon Credits Framework last year, as a complementary decarbonisation pathway for companies in hard-to-abate sectors. Minister Grace Fu will be sharing an update on our progress later in this area.
Energy Efficiency Technology Centre
15 To encourage more energy efficiency and decarbonisation efforts, it is important for businesses to understand its benefits and what it takes to decarbonise. The Energy Efficiency Technology Centre (or EETC in short), a collaboration between NEA and the Singapore Institute of Technology since 2020, plays an important role in strengthening our industry’s capabilities in energy efficiency.
16 For many industrial SMEs, as their facilities are relatively small, they may find it difficult to start an assessment of energy saving opportunities, which is a first and foundational step to reap the benefits of energy efficiency. The EETC bridges this gap and provides low-cost energy assessment to SMEs. As in the case for Onn Wah and PLC, the EETC enables these SMEs to identify energy efficiency improvement opportunities and solutions.
17 The EETC also helps in building a pipeline of professionals to serve the industry’s needs. Mr Phoa Yong Quan, an engineering graduate from the Singapore Institute of Technology, chose to embark on his Integrated Work Study Programme attachment with EETC for a year. During his attachment, he worked with the EETC’s experienced staff to help many companies with energy assessments. This has helped to build up his skills and landed him a job as a sustainability engineer. I believe such well-trained professionals will contribute to the sustainability agenda and be highly sought after by the industry.
18 This year, the diverse range of award recipients reflects an increasing attention and adoption of energy efficiency and decarbonisation efforts amongst large and small companies. These are all commendable efforts and I congratulate all the award recipients.
19 In conclusion, while we celebrate the achievements made thus far, we should renew our commitment to pursuing sustainable practices across businesses. Our collective efforts will make a substantial impact towards achieving our net zero emissions targets.
20 Let this conference serve as a catalyst for inspiration, collaboration, and informed action. I wish you a fruitful conference ahead. Thank you.