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Energy efficiency in industry given a boost
SINGAPORE is directing much of its efforts towards boosting energy efficiency within the industry sector to curb carbon emissions, which accounts for half of the country's entire energy use.
One key aspect of this strategy is the Energy Efficiency National Partnership (EENP) programme, a voluntary partnership for companies seeking to be more efficient with their energy use. Partners can benefit from access to a learning network, energy efficiency resources, incentives and recognition. Participation is free.
The initiative was launched in 2010 by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) and has so far attracted more than 200 members.
"Over the years, we have introduced various important initiatives to foster higher energy efficiency within industries and enable more informed decisions on energy use. NEA will continue to facilitate greater deployment of energy efficiency practices which are both practical and effective," said Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Environment Agency (NEA).
While more efficient energy use has obvious environmental benefits - such as combating climate change - it also makes good business sense for companies. Organisations can cut operating costs, improve performance and boost productivity by ridding themselves of unnecessary energy use.
Simply put, tackling energy efficiency head-on is a win-win proposition for businesses and their stakeholders - it helps boost the bottom line, even as it reduces an organisation's environmental impact.
Opportunities to boost energy efficiency are more often than not found in the manufacturing sector, and many can be implemented with little or at times even no cost. Mr Wong Tat Choon from Singapore Newspaper Services - an EENP member - decided to monitor the maximum demand of the company's manufacturing plant from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, his efforts to cut energy use led to a downward revision of the maximum demand of the plant, resulting in annual energy savings of about S$440,000.
"Joining EENP provides a platform for us to tap the 'Best Practices' of other partners and enable us to adopt appropriate practices for our plant to achieve optimum results with the least cost and time," said Mr Wong.
A key benefit of joining the EENP is gaining access to an EENP learning network, where courses and workshops on energy efficiency best practices and technologies are held regularly and publicised to EENP partners. EENP partners also enjoy lower rates for such events. Examples include the National Energy Efficiency Conferences, workshops on ISO50001 and workshops on energy recovery and reuse. There are also regular "Share and Learn sessions" organised under the EENP learning network, where EENP partners come together to share their own energy efficiency journey and learn from case studies and best practices implemented by other partners.
Some 400 industrial participants are expected to attend the industry energy efficiency sharing session held at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability where EENP Awards recipients and other industry energy professionals will share their best practices, case studies, technologies and standards on energy efficiency and management.
Systems and tools to manage energy better
To manage their energy usage better, companies are encouraged to put in place an energy management system (EnMS) which includes setting energy targets, setting up an energy management team, coming up with an energy reduction plan and regular monitoring.
An internationally recognised framework for organszations to implement an EnMS is the Singapore Standard ISO 50001 on Energy Management Systems (SS ISO 50001:2011). A company that has benefited from the implementation of ISO 50001 is EENP Award Recipient HSL Constructor Pte Ltd, a local SME. In fact, HSL was one of the first few companies in Singapore to achieve an ISO 50001 certification for its energy-management system. The company's compliance with ISO 50001 has helped it to reduce its consumption of electricity by 37 per cent from its peak consumption in 2011, which translates into savings of about 22 per cent in its power bills.
"HSL's leadership possesses the appreciation and will to commit resources towards better energy efficiency and management," said Wang Zhenwei, Assistant Manager, Sustainability at HSL Constructor.
Companies can also use data-driven tools such as energy management information systems (EMIS) to help them be more energy efficient. Some of the features of EMIS include sensors to monitor energy use at systems level, as well as dashboards that show key energy indicators for performance tracking. Among other benefits, it helps energy managers identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvement, and to track the outcomes of energy efficiency improvement projects.
Siltronic Silicon Wafer is one of the companies that have seen the benefits of implementing EMIS at its facilities. "EMIS is an important tool to improve energy efficiency as you cannot manage what you do not measure," explained Mr Low Kin Peng, Engineering Director of Siltronic Silicon Wafer.
"We are cognisant that in implementing an effective energy management framework, companies need good metering, data collection and information systems on energy usage to identify areas for improvement and to implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures," said NEA's Mr Tay.
He added: "Companies are encouraged to capitalise on technologies like the Energy Management Information System (EMIS) that enable individuals and organisations to plan, make decisions and take effective action to manage energy use and generate significant energy savings."
A helping hand
The recent Energy Conservation Act makes it mandatory for about 170 of the most energy-intensive industrial companies in Singapore to implement basic energy management practices.
To encourage businesses to make energy efficient choices, the NEA currently provides incentives that cover all phases of a facility's life cycle - from its initial design to its day-to-day operations.
Companies such as GLOBALFOUNDRIES Singapore Pte Ltd and United Microelectronics Corporation (Singapore Branch) have benefited from schemes that supported their implementation of energy efficiency projects in their facility.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES Singapore enjoys annual energy savings of S$7.5 million as a result of retrofitting two of its chiller plants for three of its plants, while United Microelectronics retrofitted their temperature control units and vacuum pumps for wafer fabrication equipment, and is now enjoying annual energy savings of S$520,000.
"The chillers are one of the major energy consuming equipment in big companies like ours, which will translate into higher operating cost for us. Therefore, by introducing energy-efficient chillers system, we naturally will be able to tackle the high electricity cost issues facing our manufacturing site," explained Desmond Chan, Senior Director of Facilities Engineering.
NEA's incentive scheme can also support companies that are interested to engage energy efficiency specialists or energy services companies (ESCOs) to carry out detailed energy reviews to identify specific measures to improve energy efficiency. On average, energy reviews have managed to identify about 14 per cent of energy savings potential in a company.
Organisations that wish to find out more about energy efficiency related incentives, resources, success stories, programmes and events can visit the E2Singapore website, a one-stop portal for all energy efficiency information in Singapore.
Awarding best practices
Recognising energy-efficient companies is one key aspect of EENP's mission, and is carried out through an annual awards initiative that is now in its fourth year.
Organised by the NEA, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Energy Market Authority (EMA), the EENP Awards aims to foster a culture of sustained energy efficiency improvements in the industry and public sectors.
"The award provides good recognition for the company and helps to get support from the management and the staff of energy efficiency," said Mr Cheong Kok Onn from Glaxo Wellcome Manufacturing, a winner in the Outstanding Energy Manager of the Year category.
Companies can compete in three categories: Energy Management, Best Practices and Outstanding Managers of the Year. Selected public agencies are also recognised at the ceremony and awarded commendation for Best Energy Efficiency Practices in the Public Sector.
This year, 10 companies, three individuals, three schools and a public agency were recognised for their outstanding commitment and achievements toward energy efficiency.
While there is a lot yet to achieve, the growth of EENP membership and the enthusiastic participation in the EENP Awards in the past few years bodes well for Singapore's journey towards becoming more energy efficient.
Achieving the goal of energy efficiency will result in a host of benefits for companies that pursue it - from lower energy bills to improving performance. On a broader scale, it will help boost the competitiveness of the Singapore economy, while driving innovation in the process. The prospect of achieving more with less energy is an exciting one, and the EENP Awards sets out the opportunity in full.
'Over the years, we have introduced various important initiatives to foster higher energy efficiency within industries and enable more informed decisions on energy use. NEA will continue to facilitate greater deployment of energy efficiency practices which are both practical and effective.'
- Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of the National Environment Agency