20 polytechnic students given rare access to nerve centre of Singapore's power system

Polytechnic students view the energy nerve centre from a viewing gallery, during The Powering Lives Trail at Energy Market Authority's Power System Control Centre, on Aug 1, 2019.
Polytechnic students view the energy nerve centre from a viewing gallery, during The Powering Lives Trail at Energy Market Authority's Power System Control Centre, on Aug 1, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - A handful of tertiary students had the rare opportunity to tour the inside of the Power System Control Centre of the Energy Market Authority (EMA) on Thursday (Aug 1).

Organised by EMA, the visit to the centre is part of a programme that allows students and educators to tour facilities that are usually closed to the public.

The visit gave about 20 students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic a glimpse of operations in the highly secured centre's control room, where energy flow across Singapore is monitored and regulated.

They also had an overview of Singapore's power system and the functions of the EMA and the control centre.

The students were then given a personality quiz to get them thinking about the roles they might like to play in the energy industry in future.

The programme, known as the Powering Lives Trail, also includes visits to such facilities as the Liquified Natural Gas Terminal on Jurong Island, where gas to power Singapore is imported, and the Pulau Ubin Micro-grid Test-bed, which assesses the reliability of electricity supply in a micro-grid set-up using intermittent renewable energy sources like solar energy.

It is now into its third year and more than 2,000 students and educators from secondary schools, polytechnics, junior colleges, universities and the Institute of Technical Education have taken part in the programme.

 
 

On Thursday, EMA'S director of industry development and chief information officer Alvin Yeo said that, beyond giving students access to restricted areas, EMA hoped to give them an opportunity to apply some of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts they had learned in the classroom to specific areas of the energy system.

For instance, during the tour, students applied concepts from physics to understand why electricity has to be transmitted at a higher voltage through Singapore's energy system.

Dr Yeo added that Powering Lives Trails have two main objectives: to give students an insight into the careers in the power sector and to inspire new ideas about Singapore's energy future.

The programme is part of a broader plan to attract and develop talent in the power sector, he said.

Eight years ago, the sector was seen by some as being "very traditional". EMA decided to work with schools, unions and industry players to rouse the interest of more young people and combat the sector's ageing workforce.

Dr Yeo said: "It's a very technical field, a very niche space, but this is a very important part of Singapore's energy future, to keep the lights on and power flowing."

The response from teachers and students have been "quite encouraging", he added.

Ms Teo Li Shi, 18,a second-year electrical engineering student at Ngee Ann Poly, said : "I realised that a lot of things I learned in my studies are related to what the industry provides."

Mr An' Shazwan, 22, a second-year electrical and electronic engineering student at Singapore Poly, said: "I learned that there are people working very hard round the clock just to keep the lights on."

He may seek a job at EMA in the future, he said, adding: "In the future, we may want to focus on renewable energy, and I might have a few ideas to make that happen."