Chairman's Speech

It is my joy and privilege to be in your midst today as we celebrate the unveiling of Penguin Refresh, Singapore’s first pure electric seagoing ship. Penguin was founded locally in 1976 and was public listed in 1997. We specialise in designing, building and operating high-speed aluminium vessels.

About eighteen months ago, Penguin and Shell embarked on a unique journey together. At the start of this journey, we told the world that we were going to develop pure electric ferries and rapid shore chargers that would eventually replace conventional diesel-powered ferries…for good. This was always going to be a one-way trip. There was no turning back.

That was one thing that struck me when my MD James first described this project to me. This project presented itself as a bold challenge against all that was conventional and comfortable in our local maritime industry. But yet, there was a beautiful elegance in its simplicity, its finality. All this resonated strongly with me. And together, we dubbed this project…our Electric Dream.

While this project is the first of its kind for Shell worldwide and a first for Singapore, and Penguin, it was always more than just about being the first. For us, this was going to be our most substantial and far-reaching investment ever in a single project. I wish I could tell you that it would also be our most profitable, but sometimes the price to pay for sustainability is lower profitability.

The Electric Dream project is substantial because Penguin bore the sole responsibility of financing this project from the very beginning. However, we were not daunted by this burden at all, because we truly believed in the project. Later on, as it became known in the financial markets, we started to receive more offers from investors and lenders. Eventually, we took up an EFS-Green loan from DBS Bank and Enterprise Singapore. The EFS-Green loan is not just a term loan. It represents the capital market’s willingness to endorse this sustainable project.

Next, the Electric Dream project is also profound. And that’s because beneath the surface of its simplicity lies a complex network of equipment, systems integrations and controls, much of which you do not find on conventional ships.

Beyond machines and programming, Electric Dream also requires a fundamental change in our attitudes and mindsets. We can no longer depend solely on all that is conventional and familiar. For example, we now need to think in kilowatts and kilowatt hours instead of brake horsepower and metric ton of fuel consumption. We need to dig deeper when specc-ing out equipment and defining logic controls. In the world of vessel electrification, there is no one-size-fits-all.

At this juncture, I would like to thank our Penguin team and our Electric Dream partners for their efforts and sacrifices: Shell – our client, our fellow visionary and electricity supplier. Incat Crowther UK, Razor Blunt Labs, Gema Engineering, Danfoss, Zinus, Mighty Engineering, PEI, SWTS, WM Leow and Associates. Thank you all.

Our first Electric Dream ferry, Penguin Refresh, will start operating in May, along with the rapid shore chargers and jibs. She will be joined by two more ferries later this year. Together, our three electric ferries will eliminate more than 6,000 tons of CO2 annually from the skies over Singapore, that is the emission equivalent from three conventional ferries.

Each ferry can transport 200 passengers and run at 21 knots. The ferries require less than 10 minutes to charge up after every round trip. For our passengers, their journey would be one that is punctuated by low noise and zero emission – a truly unique experience, one that is no less special than what Penguin and our project partners have gone through in the last eighteen months.

I want to end my speech by sharing a little snippet of my life. I applied for a job in Shell some 40 years ago, I did not get a reply back. Disappointments are part and parcel of life’s journey. In fact, setbacks are set-ups to build you up, if you don’t give up.

So it is with Penguin on this Electric Dream journey. We weathered thru Covid regime and protocol, supply logistics disruptions and delays, and impasse with government agencies over charging infrastructure. By God’s Grace, we prevailed to press on.

With that, I thank you for your attention. God Bless You All!

Jeffrey Hing
Executive Chairman
Penguin International Limited

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