SINGAPORE - US industrial giant General Electric (GE) will be investing up to US$60 million (S$81.6 million) to develop its gas turbine repair capabilities in Singapore.
The investment will be channelled into a new repair engineering and development centre for high-efficiency, air cooled (HA) gas turbines over the next 10 years and is expected to add 160 advanced manufacturing jobs to GE's operations here.
GE's existing global repair centre currently employs about 250 workers and the company has more than 4,000 employees across its business units in Singapore.
In its announcement on Thursday (Nov 7), GE said that the new HA repair centre, its first outside the Americas, will begin repairing HA components such as nozzles and blades in the first quarter of 2021.
GE has received more than 100 orders for HA gas turbine units across 18 countries to date.
The repair centre in Singapore, which spans more than 398,000 sq ft, will become GE's largest repair site globally in terms of production volume.
Speaking to The Straits Times on Thursday, Mr Wouter Van Wersch, president and chief executive for GE in Asia-Pacific, said that Singapore has a good ecosystem that is conducive to the success of the centre.
"There's a great workforce, there are very strong customers and partners here," he said, adding that GE also works with local subcontractors and suppliers for materials and equipment.
He added that the new facility will eventually lead to a 50 per cent increase in man-hours but have higher productive efficiency.
Mr Jim Vono, chief operations officer for GE in Asia-Pacific, noted that the facility is expected to reduce HA repair cycle time for customers in Asia by up to two months, as the components do not have to be shipped back and forth from the United States, with the repairs taking place in Singapore instead.
Mr Van Wersch said that GE is currently focused on the areas of power generation, power transmission, aviation and healthcare in Singapore.
While it is growing its renewable energy projects, such as those in wind turbines and solar energy, he noted that it is not easy to "grow renewable (projects) in Singapore" due to its size.
"I think Singapore is going to be driven by gas power generation in the years to come," Mr Van Wersch said.
But GE is committed to sustainability and using less resources across its operations worldwide, he said, noting that its renewables business will be carbon neutral by 2020.
The company has also reduced its global greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent since 2011 and seen 25 per cent reduction in its global water consumption, Mr Van Wersch added.
Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Economic Development Board, highlighted in his speech at Thursday's event that GE's new centre will build up a team of highly-skilled repair development engineers and can tap the strong engineering pool in Singapore.
He also noted that the International Energy Agency projects that gas-fired power generation will overtake coal as the second-largest energy source in the global energy mix by 2030 and demand for GE's HA gas turbines is expected to grow.
"This investment in HA repair capability will therefore be an important long-term contributor to Singapore's industrial output, and support the Government's commitment to maintaining manufacturing at 20 per cent of our economy," Dr Beh said.
GE set up its manufacturing operations here in 1969 and currently operates its major businesses such as aviation, healthcare and power in Singapore.