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S'pore looks to cogen facilities, IoT to improve petchem energy efficiency

EDB is starting to explore the possibility of developing a carbon chain on Jurong Island

In the longer term, carbon capture and utilisation technologies could become an option for Singapore, said Mr Chan.


THE Republic, which in July set a new energy efficiency target for its manufacturing sector to cut greenhouse gas emissions, will look to cogeneration facilities and the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) as the main ways to achieve this within the petrochemical industry, said the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Cogeneration plants allow petrochemical firms to generate their own electricity and therefore improve energy efficiency.

While a few of the larger facilities on Jurong Island have already taken the cogeneration route, there is scope for more, said EDB energy and chemicals director Damian Chan.

"There are still some of the larger companies with some opportunities for cogen," he told The Business Times. "That will result in some significant energy savings."

He added: "The next one after that is in terms of IT, and specifically using Internet of Things to improve efficiency."

US engineering and technology firm Emerson had previously estimated that total energy savings across the chemical plants on Jurong Island could add up to US$150 million a year, if its data analytics and sensing technology was used to monitor steam traps.

The group late last year rolled out its data analytics technology, termed Pervasive Sensing, for chemical companies in Singapore. The technology integrates complex machinery with networked sensors and software, and analyses data from these in real time, enabling companies to optimise their operations, said Emerson.

The Singapore government is hoping to achieve improvements in energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector by one to 2 per cent a year from 2020 to 2030, according to the Climate Action Plan released in July. This compares with the 0.7 per cent energy efficiency improvement rates that 160 energy-intensive manufacturers - accounting for more than half of Singapore's total energy use - clocked in in 2014 and last year.

The industry sector accounted for 59 per cent of Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions in 2012; the petroleum refining, chemicals and semiconductor sectors made up the bulk of these emissions.

In the longer term, carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies could become an option for Singapore, Mr Chan added.

Much will depend on how technology evolves, he said. "Hopefully there will be some breakthrough in terms of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and CCU."

"Of course Singapore is a bit more limited in terms of sequestration because we don't have the space to store (carbon dioxide), so the one that can potentially make a lot more difference for Singapore will be utilisation."

The EDB is therefore starting to explore the possibility of developing a carbon chain on Jurong Island.

For example, French chemicals group Novocap said in June that it is building a sodium bicarbonate plant on Jurong Island which will capture carbon emissions from neighbouring industries for use in its manufacturing process.

"If we can do that more extensively that will also help in terms of reducing carbon emissions," said Mr Chan. "But it takes time."

He added: "If we can see more applications for carbon dioxide which we can build in a sustainable and competitive way on Jurong Island it's something which we'll definitely be very keen on. It's still very early stage for us in studying that chain."

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