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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the launch ceremony of Katoen Natie Singapore’s Phase 2 Rooftop Solar Farm

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the launch ceremony of Katoen Natie Singapore’s Phase 2 Rooftop Solar Farm


Mr Andy Detaille, Ambassador of Belgium to Singapore,
Mr Koen Cardon, CEO of Katoen Natie Singapore
Distinguished Guests, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good Morning. 

1. It is my pleasure to join you today, at the launch of Katoen Natie Singapore’s Phase 2 Rooftop Solar Farm, which is now the largest single-location solar installation in Singapore. This significant undertaking is a strong testament to the company’s commitment to invest in and catalyse the development of sustainable energy solutions in Singapore.

2. As a leading European green energy developer and owner of Belgium’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system, Katoen Natie’s operations in Singapore have been instrumental in supporting the growth of our Energy & Chemical (E&C) industry. To date, Katoen Natie employs more than 500 people and offers tailor-made chemical logistics services to many companies on Jurong Island. 

3. Today, Katoen Natie Singapore’s upgraded Solar Facility generates an annual average electricity of 6.8 GWhrs, equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 1,500 4-room HDB flats. With this facility, the company will reduce its carbon emissions by over 2,800 metric tons per year. This move is also in line with Singapore’s aim to increase solar deployment to 1 gigawatt-peak beyond 2020.

Developing sustainable energy solutions through collaborations and innovation

4. As a small, resource-constrained country, Singapore imports almost all our energy needs and has limited renewable energy options. Our high solar exposure around the year makes solar PV one of the best renewable energy options for Singapore. Nonetheless, there are challenges in increasing the use of solar energy in Singapore, such as limited land available for large scale deployment of solar panels, and intermittency in energy output due to high cloud cover and urban shading.

5. I am pleased to see that Katoen Natie has, however, managed to turn these challenges into opportunities through innovation, to increase their competitive advantage.
a. I understand Katoen Natie had worked with Singapore Power Group (SP Group) to adopt an automated control system that curtails the solar output exported to our energy grid by using smart inverters to convert excess electricity into heat. This is more cost-effective than the conventional solution of installing additional equipment to prevent overloading SP Group’s energy grid during occasions when high solar output coincides with low energy demand (e.g. sunny public holidays). 

6. I am happy to see companies come together to leverage each other’s expertise to develop a better product, which could either be for their own use or commercialised. I look forward to seeing more of such win-win partnerships to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy in Singapore.

Lifelong learning to keep pace with disruption brought about by technological advancements and innovation

7. As we improve Singapore’s competitiveness and drive innovation, we must also build up our local pool of skilled workers. We must equip them with the necessary skillsets to take on higher value-added roles as business processes become increasingly automated, so that they would also benefit from the upgrading and transformation. 

a. For instance, I understand that Katoen Natie Singapore has recently rolled out 12 Autonomous Terminal Trucks (ATT) that run on a 24/7 basis. As a result, this removes the need for human drivers. However, instead of retrenching their existing workers and hiring ATT controllers from the market, Katoen Natie has chosen to develop a structured progression pathway to retain and upskill the employees displaced by the project, to be redeployed as either ATT controllers or in other roles in the company. This is indeed a good outcome and I would like to commend the company for doing its part to upgrade its existing workers.

8. Our education system has come a long way in equipping our young with strong fundamentals in numeracy, literacy and critical soft skills. Our Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores affirm this approach. While we acknowledge the merits of institutionalised education, it is important to recognise that in today’s landscape, learning is no longer confined to our formal education days. It is becoming increasingly important that we continue learning and upgrading our skills throughout our lives to remain relevant and nimble to the future economy. 

Providing avenues for career progression beyond formal qualifications

9. To support individuals on their lifelong learning journey, we have expanded the pathways and options available for individuals, regardless of their starting points, to deepen the skills that they already have, and to acquire new emerging skills and knowledge. These include programmes such as the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme and the SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programme which are developed in close consultation with industry partners to help individuals apply what they learn in the classroom, at the workplace and pick up new skills on the job.  Admissions pathways for working adults looking to pursue full-time polytechnic diploma programmes have also been expanded to better recognise their competencies and work experience, beyond their academic results.   

10. These initiatives are part of the Government’s efforts to tighten the nexus between education and training through the national SkillsFuture movement. Through this movement, we hope to change society’s mindset – employers, workers, and individuals alike – that competencies and experiences acquired by workers from on-the-job training are important and valuable, and that paper qualifications may not necessarily be the best nor only indicator of a working adult’s suitability for upgrading. 

11. To this end, MTI’s Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP) and the Public Service Division (PSD) have worked with the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to create more upgrading pathways for workers who do not possess academic qualifications but have acquired the job-related skills through relevant work experience.  

12. Previously, one would need a Diploma in Electrical Engineering and two years of working experience before they could apply to EMA to be licensed as an electrical technician. Moving forward, a licensed electrician without a Diploma can upgrade himself to a licensed electrical technician after acquiring 5 years of relevant experience and proving his competency level through a short bridging course. About 2,700 licensed electricians could benefit from this initiative, allowing them to apply for a higher level of licence and take on more challenging jobs. At the same time, EMA will impose the necessary safeguards to protect the resiliency and safety of our power system.  

13. Similar pathways will also be created for electrical technicians who have acquired the necessary skills through work experience, to enable them to qualify for the electrical engineer licence without having to first obtain a degree. They can then take on more job responsibilities, such as projects involving higher voltage levels.   

14. To assist aspiring licensed electrical workers to acquire a trade licence and upgrade themselves, EMA is working with the Singapore Institute of Power and Gas (SIPG) and our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) such as Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, to develop bridging courses for these workers. EMA will be releasing more details on this shortly. 

15. With multiple pathways through which individuals can upgrade their careers, we believe this initiative can strengthen both the quality of our technical workforce, as well as provide the industry with a wider pool of skilled workers to tap on. 

16. I encourage companies to continue to equip their employees with the right mindset and skills to embrace new market trends and technologies, and supporting them on their lifelong learning journey. 


17. In closing, I would like to congratulate Katoen Natie once again for achieving yet another milestone in Singapore. We hope that Katoen Natie’s solar facility will inspire our network of partners, families and friends to continue to innovate and sharpen your competitive edge. Through our collective efforts, I am confident Singapore can continue to be a “smart, green and liveable” city.

18. Thank you.

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