Greening Industries for Sustainability

SIT showcases two sustainable engineering initiatives that aim to reduce carbon footprint

The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is examining innovative ways in greening industries for a more sustainable future through the following two initiatives – utilising solar energy to power rooftop hydroponic farms and helping companies discover and implement energy efficiency improvement measures.

Harnessing Solar Energy for Rooftop Hydroponic Farms

With Singapore moving towards a more sustainable future, it has prioritised greater self-sufficiency in local food production and adoption of renewable energy resources. An SIT project is targeting both areas in the form of rooftop hydroponic farms that harvest electricity from the sun and use probiotics to better grow leafy greens and herbs.

“The project aims to address competing needs within limited land in land scarce Singapore,” said principal investigator Assoc Prof Steve Kardinal Jusuf, Engineering cluster, SIT. “If both renewable energy and agricultural needs can co-exist together, Singapore won’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”

The three-year project, which started in December 2020, is funded by a grant from Temasek Foundation. Singapore-based agritech company Archisen is lending its expertise to the project. It provides seedlings and seed germination, and also advises on the crops and plant growth.

Assoc Prof Jusuf shared that the main challenge is figuring out the best way to place the solar photovoltaic panels for maximum crop growth. While gaps need to be created in between the panels to allow sunlight to reach the crops below, this also means that there is a reduction in the number of panels installed to generate electricity. Therefore, probiotics could help to promote crop growth and yield despite less sunlight available for vegetables to grow.


Training SMEs to be More Energy Efficient

The Energy Efficiency Technology Centre (EETC) at SIT was launched in 2019 and it has been helping companies discover and implement energy efficiency improvement measures, as well as build up local industrial energy efficiency capabilities. As a collaboration between SIT and the National Environment Agency (NEA), the centre also trains a pipeline of SIT engineering undergraduates and upskills existing energy efficiency practitioners in industrial energy efficiency. 

The centre has made energy assessments more accessible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which typically lack the capabilities and resources to identify and implement energy efficiency improvement measures. SMEs receive a diagnosis of their energy performance and recommendation on areas of improvement, and their staff are trained in energy assessment skills for continual improvement. 

Five assessments have been completed for companies so far, and they include Far East Packaging Industrial, Aalst Chocolate, and Denka Advantech. NEA will subsequently work with the companies to support the implementation of the recommendations through the Energy Efficiency Fund. 

“Energy efficiency is a least-cost measure in Singapore’s vision of a more sustainable future,” said Prof Lock Kai Sang (Engineering cluster), who helms the EETC. “Some energy efficiency measures can be implemented through changes in human behaviour and business operation, while others can be achieved by using established energy efficiency technologies.” 

The EETC also launched two upskilling programmes for existing professionals this year – the Electrical Installations Audit and Analysis Programme in May and the Energy Efficiency Upskilling Programme in January. Another six more programmes are in the pipeline. Through these programmes, aspiring engineers and energy managers can train towards becoming certified Energy Efficiency Opportunity Assessors and Chartered Engineers.