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Steering Singapore towards a more sustainable future
By Marianne Tan
Ms Lian Zijuan, principal engineer at SP Group, is responsible for the smooth functioning of the company’s electrical grid.

SP Group principal engineer Lian Zijuan’s work involves ensuring the smooth operation of Singapore’s power grid

A leading utilities group in Asia Pacific, SP Group plays a critical role in developing the infrastructure to support Singapore’s transition towards a greener future – and Ms Lian Zijuan is contributing to this transformation.

As part of the pioneering team that built SP’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network from scratch, her work included conducting site feasibility studies to determine suitable locations for EV chargers, overseeing their installation and operations, and securing partnerships with fleet owners and interested landlords.

Today, the 33-year-old is a principal engineer at SP Group, leading a team of engineers and technical officers tasked with renewing ageing equipment and cables in SP Group’s electrical grid.

Her team’s work is crucial in ensuring the smooth functioning of SP’s electricity network.

SP Group also provides distribution services to about 1.6 million industrial, commercial and residential customers in Singapore.

As Singapore looks to greener sources of energy and greater diversification of energy supply, power grid operations will become more complex with deployment of more distributed energy resources – small-scale electricity supply such as solar and energy storage systems that complement traditional power plants.

“I am proud to be part of the team that will play a role in helping Singapore steer towards a more sustainable future,” she says.


A keen student of mathematics and physics, Ms Lian decided to apply for the SP Group Scholarship after speaking with one of their engineers at a career fair for junior college students. The structured graduate programme included hands-on roles, support for professional certifications and practical leadership training.

Fresh out of school, she was given the opportunity to participate in large-scale projects at SP Group, such as providing electricity connection to new residential areas, including the installation of equipment and cables.

“It was very satisfying to see projects go ‘live’, as it meant that thousands of homeowners were one step closer to getting their homes,” she says. 

Her years of experience would prove to be useful during the pandemic, when border control measures resulted in fewer workers entering Singapore and consequently, shrank contractors’ resources. Her team streamlined processes to minimise work disruption.

Later, when material shortage affected the assembly and supply of electrical equipment, Ms Lian and her team had to prioritise the replacement of equipment that posed the highest risk to SP’s network reliability.

“Transmission and distribution of electricity and gas are essential services, and the pandemic has altered the way we operate,” she says.

As one of the section heads for Distribution Projects, Ms Lian was also responsible for establishing standard operating procedures in a changed world. For instance, she recently participated in a business continuity exercise simulating different Covid-19 scenarios.

She says: “I hope to lead my team to constantly find innovative ways to renew our assets in a timely manner. This is critical to maintaining a resilient grid to prepare for smooth integration of distributed energy resources in the future.”

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