SIEW 2018: 5Qs with Neil McGregor, Group President & CEO, Sembcorp

Neil McGregor
Group President & CEO
By Sembcorp | 5 October 2018

Neil McGregor is Group President & CEO of Sembcorp Industries. He is a member of the board’s Executive Committee and Technology Advisory Panel. He also sits on the board of Sembcorp Marine, a listed subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries, as a non-executive director.

Neil brings to Sembcorp a unique and varied background spanning business, operations, and investment in the energy and infrastructure sectors across Europe, USA, Asia, and Oceania. His rich international experience includes over a decade spent in Singapore serving markets in the region. Previously, he also headed companies in India and Singapore as CEO, including Singapore LNG Corporation and PowerSeraya Group. Prior to joining Sembcorp, Neil was the Head of Temasek International’s Energy and Resources Group, Head of Australia and New Zealand, and Senior Managing Director of its Enterprise Development Group.

He is a director of Certis CISCO Security, as well as a fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors.

 Mr McGregor holds a BEng (Honours) from the University of Auckland and an MBA in International Finance from the University of Otago in New Zealand. He also completed the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD, France.

1. How is Sembcorp adapting to major trends across the energy value chain from generation, wholesale to retail?

The energy landscape is changing rapidly, with decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitalisation, and demand disruption transforming the sector. The global energy mix is moving towards cleaner sources of energy and distributed energy systems are gaining traction. The digital revolution is affecting every stage of the energy value chain from generation to retail, and customer demand will be disrupted by developments such as better energy storage technologies and distributed generation. In addition, the merchant and retail power segment is increasing in importance, while demand for integrated energy solutions continues to grow. 

To adapt to these changes, Sembcorp is transforming into a global integrated energy player. We will focus on three business lines: Gas & Power, where we provide efficient power generation from a diversity of fuels; Renewables & Environment, offering renewable and environmental solutions; as well as Merchant & Retail, which focuses on providing a full range of energy solutions, including energy storage and distributed energy generation, to both corporate and retail customers. I believe that our ability to offer a business model that provides solutions across the energy and utilities value chain as a differentiated integrated energy player puts us in a good position to innovate and seize the opportunities provided by a changing global energy landscape.

2. Sembcorp has committed to doubling its renewable energy capacity and reducing carbon emission intensity by 25% by 2022. How will Sembcorp achieve this?

Sembcorp launched our Climate Change Strategy this year, as part of our commitment to a sustainable future. We target to reduce our carbon emissions intensity from 2017 levels by about 25% by 2022, and by about 27% by 2030. Our approach to achieving this is two-fold: reducing the negative impact and enhancing the positive impact of our businesses.

To reduce the negative impact, we will continue to invest in the latest technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are also committed to restricting investments in coal-fired power plants.

To enhance our positive impact, we will grow our gas and renewables portfolio, and our green business lines, as well as explore new business models, products, and services that focus on energy efficiency, digitalisation, and new energy solutions. With this in mind, we set a target earlier this year to double our renewables capacity to around 4,000 megawatts by 2022. We have extensive capabilities in wind and solar energy, and a strong presence in Singapore, China, and India, as well as a new beachhead established in Australia.

3. Could you share more about Sembcorp’s energy portfolio and how your expansion plans will support Asia’s growing energy demand?

With rapid economic growth and the need for electrification, Asia’s energy demand is set to grow rapidly, particularly for low- and zero-carbon energy like natural gas and renewables as nations seek to rebalance their energy mix in line with the increasing drive towards sustainability. 

Sembcorp has a balanced energy portfolio of over 12,000 megawatts, comprising both thermal and renewable energy assets, providing a range of energy solutions for the various markets to meet the growing power demand.

In Asia, our renewable assets are spread across the key markets of Singapore, India, and China. We are one of the largest solar players in Singapore with over 100 megawatts in capacity and expertise in grid-tied rooftop solar energy systems, and will continue to grow. In India, we have over 1,700 megawatts of wind and solar power capacity, supporting the country’s lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022. In China, we have over 700 megawatts in wind capacity, in line with the nation’s shift towards eco-friendly power generation.

We also have gas-fired power plants providing affordable, cleaner sources of energy for fast-growing economies such as Myanmar and Bangladesh. In Myanmar, we have one of the country’s largest gas-fired power plants, which uses the most efficient technologies to maximise power output while minimising emissions. Our plant in Myanmar, which is partly financed by three major multilateral development banks – the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – is one of the largest independent power plants in the country. 

4.How does Sembcorp view the role of innovation in developing solutions for a more sustainable energy future?

Energy systems around the world are undergoing rapid changes, driven by the urgent need to provide affordable and secure energy whilst addressing climate change concerns. Against this backdrop, innovation and rapid technological advancement have made renewable energy a viable option, and will continue to be critical enablers of progress towards a sustainable energy future.

At Sembcorp, we invest in innovation and technology to provide smarter, more efficient, and lower-carbon solutions. We devote at least 80% of our research funds to green business lines and exploring new business models, products and services, and our digitalisation efforts include investing in advanced digital tools and data analytics to maximise efficiencies. 

However, innovation should be broader than just technological research and development. It should be integrated with innovations in business models, policies, processes, and market design, in both the public and private sectors. Sembcorp recognises this and, as part of our new strategy, we are not only investing in research and development, but also transforming ourselves into a dynamic organisation with a scalable operating model, embedding innovative thinking into our culture. This ensures we stay on top of industry trends, create the future that we see evolving from those trends, and stay an integrated and innovative provider of such solutions.

5. What are your thoughts on the SIEW 2018 theme “Transforming Energy: Invest, Innovate and Integrate”?

This is a highly relevant theme, given the market forces and technological trends disrupting the energy landscape. There is a need to invest in innovative, green, flexible, and technologically-advanced energy solutions to keep pace with the changes. Integration is also key as there is an increasing need to ensure energy sources, systems, and policies are holistically interlinked to facilitate the energy transformation. 

At Sembcorp, we do not only invest in innovative and green solutions. We also emphasise integration as customers increasingly expect a reliable one-stop solutions provider, providing them with convenience and flexibility. As an integrated energy player offering the full spectrum of solutions across the entire value chain, Sembcorp is therefore well-positioned to capitalise on the global energy transition.


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