SCHOLARS'

EXPERIENCE

How this chemical engineer is charging up Singapore’s green plans
By Rachel Chia
At the forefront of YTL PowerSeraya’s green efforts, Mr Ng Yong Hwee’s work involves monitoring the power plant’s energy efficiency as well as using data analytics to preempt equipment failure.
PHOTO: FRENCHESCAR LIM

Singapore-Industry scholar Ng Yong Hwee helps power one of the nation’s most essential sectors

When vendors and technical specialists could not travel to Singapore to perform on-site inspections and repairs of YTL PowerSeraya’s power plant on Jurong Island, Mr Ng Yong Hwee had to adapt and act quickly.

His team resorted to using a hands-free video camera to allow the overseas specialists to observe proceedings in the plant and direct the local team to execute the works. Thanks to this “livestreaming” solution, delays were minimised and the plant continued to operate seamlessly without a hitch.

YTL PowerSeraya is one of Singapore’s leading power generators and electricity retailers. Its subsidiary, Geneco, serves over 100,000 households.

“Covid-19 forced everyone to re-evaluate the norm,” says Mr Ng. “We have to be prepared to unlearn and relearn in order to keep up with changing times.”

CORE SECTOR WORK

The 28-year-old chose the energy sector upon graduation from the National University of Singapore because he wanted to put his chemical engineering degree to good use.

“The energy sector is one of the most critical sectors for any economy. Without electricity, factories and manufacturers would have to shut down. Shopping malls and offices would not be able to operate. Singaporeans would have to live without devices,” he says.

“In Singapore, we have a robust and reliable power system. There is electricity whenever we flip a switch. Our jobs in the power plants are meaningful because we help keep the lights on while powering communities and homes.”

As the power industry shifts to greater sustainability, the demand for chemical engineers and their skills in developing green products and processes has soared. Mr Ng now finds himself at the forefront of YTL PowerSeraya’s green efforts.

Day to day, he not only monitors the power plant’s energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, but he also finds ways to optimise operations to reduce environmental impact. His projects examine how the company can slash carbon emissions from power generation, such as installing speed-controlling devices on feed water pumps which are among the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment in a power plant.

The Singapore-Industry scholar envisions an exciting future where Singapore embraces solar energy, cleaner fuel sources, electric vehicles and smart grids that can predict electricity consumption.

“While we know that power is essential to the economy and our daily lives, we should strive to provide it at the lowest cost to the environment and society,” he says. “We should conserve the earth so that future generations will still have the opportunity to enjoy living here.”

BENEFITS OF A SINGAPORE-INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIP
Mr Ng applied for the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) in 2013 because it gave him the flexibility to apply to a variety of sponsoring organisations.

Since scholars can choose up to five sponsoring organisations, Mr Ng applied to various oil, gas and power generation companies.

He says: “After speaking with a few companies, I thought my chemical engineering degree was most suited for the energy sector.”

SgIS is the only multi-industry scholarship partnered with the Government, offering Singaporean talent the opportunity to work at organisations in strategic sectors such as transport and healthcare.

As an SgIS scholar, Mr Ng got the chance to attend Leaders’ Forums, where ministers and business leaders shared insights on socio-economic issues as well as predictions about Singapore’s future economic change.

There were also workshops on personal management as well as networking sessions with fellow scholars.

“For most scholarships, it is the sponsoring organisation that provides the training and development. With SgIS, I had an additional layer of support, guidance and opportunities for personal growth,” he says.

Visit moe.gov.sg/sgis for more information.

Have a question? Let us know!