Laws to be amended to drive industrial energy efficiency
SINGAPORE — The Government will announce measures this year to give the industrial sector a bigger push to become more energy efficient, with changes to be made to the Energy Conservation Act, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.
This is to achieve Singapore’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.
The ministry will announce its plans at its parliamentary Committee of Supply debate in March, and Mr Masagos told about 40 representatives from the sector at a consultation session yesterday that there will be new initiatives as well as the enhancement of some existing measures.
Industry is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Singapore, accounting for about 59 per cent of total emissions in 2012. The sector pledged to improve energy efficiency — which essentially means producing the same amount of goods using less energy — by 0.7 per cent in 2014, but fell short of the target with actual improvement of 0.4 per cent.
“Certainly we can do more,” said Mr Masagos, pointing to Belgium and the Netherlands improving industrial energy efficiency by 1 to 2 per cent annually.
Asked why Singapore’s industrial sector fell short of its target, he said the Energy Conservation Act was introduced in 2012 and the sector needed time to adjust and understand what it had to do. The sector is varied, but companies are now more familiar with reporting requirements and how efficiencies can be achieved, he said.
Under the Energy Conservation Act, energy intensive users in the industry sector (consuming 54 terajoules or more a year, or about the energy consumption of 3,300 four-room public housing households) had to appoint certified energy managers from April 2013, and monitor and report their energy use and annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy managers, senior management and company heads at the consultation session said government grants will help. Grants are important for small or medium companies that do not have access to as much capital as multinational firms. And government schemes should not be too onerous to apply for, they added.
Large firms are able to apply solutions to a large base of equipment and can leverage central solutions, which smaller firms are not able to do, said Mr Lee Kok Choy, managing director and Singapore country manager of Micron Semiconductor Asia.
While companies can equip new plants with energy-efficient equipment, the retro-fitting of existing plants is trickier — for one, the return-on-investment must be justifiable, attendees said.
And after reaping low-hanging fruit, the next step may be very complex. “The typical industry will have 2,000 to 5,000 pumps. Let’s say 50 per cent of the pumps are easily replaceable — we call it the roughing pump, which can be changed easily, and it will not affect the manufacturing process. The other 50 per cent are process pumps and directly relate to the process (such as bringing in the gas and pumping out chemicals) … That chain is much more challenging,” said Mr Jagadish C V, chief executive of Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Co.
Singapore also lacks energy experts with skills specific to industries such as oil and gas or food manufacturing, some attendees said.
The Government could be clearer on its environmental priorities when there are competing objectives — for instance, treating waste water and harmful gas emissions are desirable but would consume energy, noted a participant.