Budget debate: Manufacturing firms and SMEs can receive more funding to adopt energy-efficient tech

Such technologies include high-efficient air conditioning systems, LED lighting, and more efficient boiler systems. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Manufacturing companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will from April get more funding aid under an existing scheme to buy and adopt energy-efficient technologies.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu gave this update in Parliament on Tuesday (March 8), saying that the enhancements to the Energy Efficiency Fund (E2F) will help such firms reduce their emissions and cut their utilities bills.

The grant cap for the energy-efficient technologies component of the fund will from April 1 be raised from 50 per cent to 70 per cent, said Ms Fu.

Such technologies include high-efficient air-conditioning systems, LED lighting and more efficient boiler systems.

The higher co-funding of up to 70 per cent will help to cover the cost of technology and equipment, as well as external manpower and professional services, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a statement.

The agency launched the Energy Efficiency Fund in 2017 to help companies in the industrial sector, including SMEs, improve their energy efficiency.

Under the enhanced funding scheme, projects that achieve higher carbon abatements can receive more grants.

Speaking during a parliamentary session at which various ministries fleshed out their green initiatives, Ms Fu said that while many SMEs are nimble, dynamic and creative, they often lack resources to invest in energy-efficient technologies or to make changes to their businesses.

"Improving energy efficiency is one of the primary ways that businesses can lower their carbon emission. We will provide targeted support to help every sector decarbonise," she added.

Adopting energy-efficient technologies will also help the manufacturing sector manage the impacts of a higher carbon tax.

Last month's Budget announced that the carbon tax would be raised from the current $5 a tonne of emissions to between $50 and $80 by 2030.

As at January this year, the Energy Efficiency Fund has supported 27 technology projects, which have slashed carbon emissions by around 1,600 tonnes a year - which is equivalent to taking about 500 cars off the road, said NEA.

Ms Fu added that more than $75 million has been used to help businesses implement energy efficiency and carbon abatement projects.

In her address, she cited how a local steel manufacturing company, Kawarin Enterprise, has benefited from the fund by upgrading its old air compressors to more energy-efficient ones.

"It enjoyed annual cost savings of more than $30,000, and abated about 48 tonnes of carbon annually," she added.

Ms Fu urged companies to take advantage of the enhanced funding support early.

NEA also said the grant application and disbursement process for the Energy Efficiency Fund will be simplified from April 1 to help applicants save time and cost.

For instance, the process of measuring and verifying the amount of energy savings for each project will be streamlined.

Companies that are starting energy efficiency projects can take up assessments offered by the Energy Efficiency Technology Centre - an existing initiative by NEA and the Singapore Institute of Technology.

The centre's energy assessments help companies explore methods they can invest in to improve their energy efficiency.

The centre also trains engineering students in industrial energy efficiency, and helps to upskill existing employees in this field.

To further boost the centre's teaching capabilities, a new training and simulation facility will be set up at the centre to allow learners to practise their skills in a realistic environment, said Ms Fu.

More details will be announced later.

"With the enhancements, the centre will be able to assume a more prominent role in Singapore's transition to a low-carbon economy," she added.

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