Issue 5 | JANUARY 2013
Interviews Chief Executive, YTL PowerSeraya Pte Ltd
On Cue

Profile of Mr John Ng

Mr John Ng was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the YTL PowerSeraya Group in May 2009. An industry veteran with more than 20 years of commercial and engineering experience under his belt, he transitioned with the company from its PUB days to the current YTL PowerSeraya Group.

Prior to his current role, he held several positions, including as the Group’s Senior VP of Retail & Regulations. Under his stewardship, retail arm Seraya Energy witnessed rapid business growth and made it to the list as one of Singapore’s 50 fastest-growing companies for two consecutive years. Besides serving on the YTL PowerSeraya Board, Mr Ng is also a member of the Central Provident Fund Board and a council member of the Singapore National Employers Federation.

He holds a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from National University of Singapore and a Master of Science in Material Science from Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

1. The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 (WEO) highlighted how no country is an “energy island” and interactions between different fuels , markets and prices are intensifying. An example is how low-priced natural gas is reducing coal use in the US, freeing up coal for Europe where it is replacing high-priced gas. What do you think are some key global developments with important implications for Singapore?

To capitalise on the fast growing global LNG market and meet Singapore’s energy needs, Singapore has already taken progressive steps with the establishment of the LNG terminal come mid 2013, which may potentially develop the nation into a major LNG hub.

Correspondingly, developments of shale gas in the United States in recent years have gained interest with many countries – those keen to import gas from the US and also those who are interested in considering shale gas prodution in their own country.

For Singapore companies looking into importing gas from the US, considerations include availability of gas supply source, high logistics/infrastructure cost of bringing gas across long distances as well as the uncertainty of gas prices in the longer term.

In addition, efforts in working towards an ASEAN framework for electricity import can help enhance Southeast Asia’s energy security through diversification of sources – allowing Singapore to tap on energy sources such as geothermal energy which is not locally available.

2. The IEA also stressed that current energy efficiency efforts fall short of tapping its full economic potential. What are some energy-efficiency efforts undertaken by PowerSeraya and what role can the power industry play in promoting energy efficiency?

Power generation firms can seek to continuously place a strong emphasis on energy efficiency by taking a close look at energy sources, technologies, waste management and emission control, as well as resource conservation in its business operations. YTL PowerSeraya seeks to achieve these in its plant operations. Running our more efficient co-generation combined cycle plants has also helped us achieve an overall thermal efficiency increase of 5 percentage points over the last 5 years.

More than just looking into energy efficiency for its plant operations, YTL PowerSeraya is committed to promoting energy conservation among its staff and key stakeholders. Internally, we have the annual Energy Savers Contest to encourage employees to save energy in their own homes. We are also the first power company in Singapore to have obtained the Eco Office certification in 2010 and have recently been recertified for another two years by the Singapore Environment Council. Our main sustainability programme known as REAP (Responsible Energy Advocates Programme) is aimed at shaping tertiary students to take action on energy conservation, so they may also educate households to do the same.

Through our retail arm, Seraya Energy, we have also been working with customers on an on-going basis to help them achieve energy efficiency and savings. Hence, companies who boost their position by building a strong association to sustainable operations can help infl uence customers to think of sustainability in their own operations.

3. Over the next 10 years, the power sector will require approximately 2,400 new technical professionals, including power engineers. How do you think EMA and the industry can work together to profile and attract talents to join the power sector?

There is little knowledge on the rewarding career in a power industry that values one’s commitment in delivering an essential service. Already, EMA and the industry is working together to offer the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) aimed at attracting and nurturing a pipeline of talent to contribute to the power sector.

Besides offering scholarships, joint career fairs and talks by EMA and industry players, the sector can help to generate additional interest among tertiary and pre-tertiary students by allowing them the opportunity to appreciate the learning and growth opportunities that come with working in a power plant. Learning journey visits to the power plant that tie in with the secondary school curriculum can go some way in igniting interest among the young about the power industry.

Parents also play an important role in encouraging their children to build a future in the power sector. Besides utilising mediums such as television – which remains a powerful tool of communication – e.g. to commission a programme on the power sector and the possible career tracks/jobs, social media such as youtube and Facebook if used right, may also seek to educate and engage potential recruits.

4. As an energy industry veteran, with more than 20 years of experience starting from PUB to PowerSeraya currently, what advice would you give to someone considering a career in the power sector?

The power sector provides an essential service to the country and thus provides a meaningful and long-term stable career to an individual.

Acquiring engineering expertise in a power sector can serve as a stepping stone for a more varied and exciting career path. Trained engineers with an interest in gaining commercial experience will be able to branch into related sectors within the same company such as electricity retail, trading, risk management etc. The changing electricity retail landscape also opens new opportunities for one that is keen to work with customers to develop and deliver energy efficiency and other value-add solutions.

Given the rapid developments in the sector, power companies here may go regional in the future to increase their revenue base. This presents opportunities for individuals to gain exposure in the management of overseas power plants.

Next Article →