4 Questions with NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan

Fresh from receiving this year’s Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Energy Award, the professor talks about his plans for developing Singapore’s thought leadership in the energy space.

Magnus Bocker Photo credit: National University of Singapore

What are your future plans to develop talent in the energy sector, and how will these plans contribute to the growth of the energy, oil and gas landscape in Singapore?

NUS contributes largely through education and research. We offer 15 energy-related academic programmes in areas such as chemical and biomolecular engineering, environmental engineering, environmental studies and environment management. Recent initiatives include a specialisation programme in energy and sustainability for Mechanical Engineering undergraduates and a Master of Science in Power and Energy Systems. We will also be launching a Master of Science in Offshore Technology with a Specialisation in Petroleum Engineering.

NUS today has over 150 experts working on energy-related research and education across faculties and more than 10 key institutes. We intend to continue contributing significantly to education, thought leadership and research in energy, oil and gas through a holistic and multidisciplinary approach.

How is NUS collaborating with other academic institutions - local and overseas – to further energy-related research in the near or long term?

The University has extensive collaborations with academic institutions, global research leaders, and industry. We have a key collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University on the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Solutions for Megacities (E2S2) programme under our NUS Environmental Research Institute. This is aimed at developing a platform to facilitate the understanding, design, and implementation of infrastructure and sustainability solutions for problems in future cities.

We also work with partners such as Cambridge University, Peking University, Yale University, and GE Water & Process Technologies on novel approaches to reduce carbon footprint, optimise energy usage and develop energy-efficient water treatment processes.

Increasingly, universities have been called on to lead the way in the sustainability agenda, in a bid to engage students on such issues. What are your thoughts on this?

NUS is firmly committed to campus sustainability. As part of the Alliance of Research Universities (IARU)’s Campus Sustainability Initiative, we send up to two students every year on internship exchange to the other nine IARU universities to work with their staff on campus sustainability projects. This year, NUS students on internships at Yale University and Australian National University worked on energy-related building and streetlights audits.

Our students also set up Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE), the largest environmental student group in NUS, to promote the “One Degree Up” that encourages the NUS community to keep the air-conditioning temperature at 25°C. This has effectively reduced carbon emissions across our campuses.

What are NUS’ energy efficiency priorities given that it has been trying to reduce energy consumption on campus?

We aim to reduce NUS’ carbon emissions by 23 percent by 2020. We will focus on efficient energy management, concentrating our efforts on reducing energy consumption of the most energy-intensive buildings on campus. We will also invest in energy-efficient and green infrastructure, and encourage staff and students to reduce energy consumption.