Left: Joel Loong manages energy demand, efficiency and demand response as Head, Energy Demand Office. He is an EMA Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship and he holds a Bachelor of Science (Economics) from University College London and a Master of Science (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) from London School of Economics.
Right: Lin Tong Shen goes into the planning and developing of power generation sources in Singapore in his role as Engineer, Generation Development Department. He is an EMA Local Undergraduate Scholar (full term) and he holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronic) with a minor in Business from NTU.
The recent unrest in Ukraine has reemphasised the importance of having a reliable and secure energy source. Not only does it keep costs at an acceptable level, but having an energy source that we can count on allows us to continue our daily lives and businesses without any disruption.
Fortunately in Singapore, energy is literally at our fingertips and we never had to worry about blackouts or disruptions. For that, we have the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to thank. Apart from energy delivery and infrastructure operation, the EMA also regulates and develops the energy market and ensures that consumers’ interests are protected.
Working steadfastly to power our everyday life are EMA officers like Joel Loong and Lin Tong Shen. The duo, recipients of the EMA Scholarship, share with us their energising roles and their ambitions at EMA.
A Balancing Act
Joel’s pivotal role belies his tender years. At just 28 years old, he is heading the Energy Demand Office (EDO) at EMA. He has certainly come a long way, from a schoolboy merely interested in sustainability to managing the energy demand in Singapore.
“I think what particularly stood out to me was finding out that Singapore had no choice but to use fossil fuels for our energy needs and that in spite of our hot and sunny weather, solar energy is not as viable as one would think. This sparked my interest in the energy landscape both here and globally, as I wondered if there was anything I could do to help move the needle,” said Joel, on what sparked his interest in energy.
Naturally, EMA stood out when he was shortlisting his career and scholarship options.
He elaborated: “EMA was at the intersection of two of my interests at that time - Energy and Economics. A scholarship also gave me the opportunity to study overseas, which I would not have been able to do so otherwise.”
After accepting the EMA Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship, Joel went to the United Kingdom to pursue Economics, as well as Environmental Economics and Climate Change.
“Expanding my horizons and meeting so many different characters during my years in university has changed the way that I looked at both problems and people,” recalled Joel.
“Whenever I look at a policy issue, I try to think about all the different types of people and parties that it might affect. Energy is something that affects everyone whether they know it or not, and it is important as a policymaker to consider how your decisions would affect many people.”
As the head of the EDO, Joel’s job is to manage energy demand, including energy efficiency, district cooling, and demand response.
“Setting up EDO was one of the most exciting projects I’ve had so far. It has been a steep learning curve starting a department from scratch, crafting the strategy for energy demand management in Singapore, exploring projects to pursue, and even building up a new team. I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to do my part in looking out for the nation’s best interest in this way,” said Joel.
He encourages students to join him at EMA, especially those who intend to let their actions speak louder than words.
“The energy landscape both globally and within Singapore is rapidly changing as we move towards more sustainable sources of energy. Joining EMA now is an opportunity to be part of this shift and to get an inside view on how these decisions are made.”
Power to the Masses
While Joel manages from a macro perspective, Tong Shen is working on the practical aspects of energy in Singapore. The 28-year is an engineer with the Generation Development Department, helping EMA oversee the planning and development of power generation sources in Singapore to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet projected demands.
Like many engineers, Tong Shen has a knack for finding out how things work, but what veered him to specialise in energy was a documentary on the development of renewable energy sources in his formative years. He went on to pursue a Diploma in Clean Energy, accept a coveted scholarship from EMA and study Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NTU.
“I felt that joining EMA, being the industry regulator and Power System Operator, would provide me the opportunity to work with stakeholders in the power industry and explore both the technical and commercial aspects of the sector,” explained Tong Shen
His decision to join EMA paid handsome dividends. Even before starting work at the statutory board, EMA provided Tong Shen with support and a well-thought-out internship opportunity, where he experienced first-hand the various facets of EMA’s work.
Before enlisting for National Service, Tong Shen spent six months at EMA and worked in the Power System Operation Division as well as the Policy and Planning Department.
“The internship had a deep impact on me. That, and site visits to the LNG Terminal and power plants had allowed me to better appreciate the knowledge I had gained from the technical elective modules that I took at the Nanyang Technological University.”
Most certainly, Tong Shen has been applying his knowledge and expertise to his work at EMA. He has adapted to the rigours of his role like a duck to water, which he credits his colleagues for.
“Collaborative, caring and creative are the words that I would use to describe the work culture at EMA,” he enthused. “I really enjoy the collaborative spirit where everyone is supportive of each other in striving to achieve the goals that are clearly defined by management.”
Beyond his work, Tong Shen appreciates the fact that he is working towards a better energy future in a very practical and palpable manner.
I take comfort and joy in knowing that I am part of a team that makes an impact on the betterment of society and helps the country embark on the journey towards a greener and more sustainable energy future. It feels surreal to be living in the here and now, and yet putting oneself in the future to envision what is best for the energy sector,” he said.
He urges those who are equally passionate about playing a part in Singapore’s energy future to take up the EMA Scholarship.
“If you want to be at the forefront of Singapore’s energy transition in creating a greener and more sustainable energy sector, the power sector is really an exciting place to be in now with so many upcoming developments.”