New on-demand rooftop solar investment platform

Image: Eneco Group, Flickr

Legends Rooftop is an online tool that allows investors to purchase off-site rooftop solar panels as a financial investment.

From pv magazine USA

Startup Legends Solar has unveiled a new early-access product, Legends Rooftop, which is an online, on-demand solar investment platform. The platform allows people to purchase anywhere from one solar panel to an entire array on a remote commercial rooftop. It is pitched as a way for millennial investors to access the benefits of solar.

Users select how many panels they want to invest in, with the smallest investment starting at a few hundred dollars. The platform tracks the performance of the panels and banks the energy savings created by the solar project in the user’s account. Withdrawals can be made at any time, said Legends Solar.

The company said there are some risks in the investment, including poor weather conditions, failure of payment by the “offtaker” or power purchaser, unexpected maintenance, or natural disasters and physical damage. It said that hospitals and universities are usually very consistent offtakers.

“With Legends Solar, you can invest in a single remotely located panel, or a whole rooftop’s worth, even without the suburban minimansion and white picket fence,” said Legends Solar CEO Lassor Feasley.

SDC Energy will serve as a financial partner for Legends Solar. The company has performed hundreds of solar financings in the past.

“The team at Legends Solar has challenged us to reimagine our approach to raising equity for new solar facilities,” said SDC Energy President Charles Schaffer. “We look forward to unlocking the solar asset class for a wider and more diverse set of retail investors. By doing this, we will accelerate the transition to a carbon free society and spread its financial benefits more equitably.”

The tool tracks solar production, the amount of carbon abated, total cash earned, and dividend payments.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

New grant to support businesses coping with rising energy costs

Companies can apply for the grant from Sept 1 this year to March 31 next year. Image: ST File

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Local firms in some sectors will soon be able to apply for a new grant to help them reduce their energy bills amid rising electricity costs.

The new Energy Efficiency Grant was announced by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Tuesday (June 21).

It will provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food services, food manufacturing and retail sectors with up to 70 per cent funding support to adopt energy-efficient equipment in categories that have been pre-approved.

Capped at $30,000 per company, the grant will cover energy-efficient equipment in categories such as LED lighting, air-conditioners, cooking hobs, refrigerators, water heaters and dryers.

The sectors eligible for the new grant have been significantly affected by higher electricity prices in terms of the impact on their overall business costs, MOF said in a statement.

“The grant will support such firms to improve their energy efficiency and alleviate increasing business costs due to increased energy prices,” the ministry added.

“This is a more sustainable way to help our businesses to manage energy prices which are beyond our control.”

Speaking at a press conference on additional support measures for companies and households, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said: “For businesses in this higher energy cost environment, they will need to continue to restructure and become more energy efficient in order to remain competitive, and we will provide support to firms who need that extra lift to sustain their transformation efforts.”

To apply for the new grant, applicants must be a business registered in Singapore and the equipment bought must also be used here.

Companies can apply for the grant from Sept 1 this year to March 31 next year.

They will then have up to a year from the time that an application is submitted to purchase equipment and submit claims for reimbursement.

The window for claims will run until March 31, 2024.

The new grant complements existing initiatives that help firms here be more energy efficient.

They include the National Environment Agency’s Energy Efficiency Fund, which supports businesses in the manufacturing sector, and the BCA Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Chee Hong Tat during the press conference.

Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee said: “I think (the new grant) will power businesses to be more energy-conscious and look at how they can be more efficient in their consumption.”

Fashion retailer Pomelo said the grant will also help support its efforts as it drives change in its industry through sustainable initiatives. 

Ms Kevalin Athayu, Pomelo’s vice-president and head of sustainability, said: “This grant from the Government is certainly a welcome development for the retail sector. We see this as a great opportunity to improve energy efficiency for our Singapore retail operations and will be reviewing the grant’s eligibility criteria in detail.”

Ms Ariel Lee, director of food and beverage firm Sunpark Singapore, which runs brands such as Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen and Belle-Ville pancake cafe, noted that the company is monitoring how bills will increase, as fuel prices go up. 

“(Support for buying) equipment, especially energy-efficient exhaust hoods, cooker hobs and lights would be a great help especially when we build new stores. It is not only capital expenditure support, but also helps with long-term deduction in our running costs,” she said.

Besides support for energy-efficient measures, there will also be help for local companies with cash-flow concerns, Mr Chee said.

The Enterprise Financing Scheme – Trade Loan will be enhanced, with the maximum loan quantum increased from $5 million to $10 million from July 1 this year to March 31 next year.

The Government will also continue to provide 70 per cent risk-share for the scheme during this period.

From now till Sept 30 this year, firms can also tap the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme for their working capital needs.

When this programme expires, the Enterprise Financing Scheme – SME Working Capital Loan will also be enhanced, with the maximum loan quantum increased from $300,000 to $500,000 from Oct 1 this year to March 31 next year.

Author: Sue-Ann Tan

Singapore companies’ green efforts gain traction but challenges remain: Survey

The survey found that 76 per cent of business leaders support efforts to expand the green economy. Image: ST File

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – A survey of 500 business and sustainability leaders reveals that Singapore’s green efforts – which came into focus in the recent Budget 2022 – are gaining traction.

In this first edition of the Singapore Green Pulse Survey conducted by Schneider Electric, it found that 76 per cent of business leaders support efforts to expand the green economy.

Close to eight in 10 (78 per cent) are optimistic that local businesses can directly benefit from this growth.

To ride on this development, seven in 10 business leaders plan to create green jobs over the next year or so.

France-headquartered Schneider Electric is an energy management and automation company that provides solutions to improve energy efficiency.

The survey, which polled respondents across various sectors, was done in March after Budget 2022, and serves as the most recent pulse check on the green measures announced.

The carbon tax will be raised from $5 per tonne to $50 to $80 per tonne by 2030, while the country has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by around mid-2050.

Mr Kim Yoon Young, cluster president for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei at Schneider Electric, said companies are already aware of green issues but are now stepping up efforts to address them.

“We can see that they start to have a plan or start to have some actions,” he added.

Of the 500 respondents, close to half, or 43 per cent, are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Mr Kim said there are practical reasons for SMEs to be more involved in green initiatives. Many are suppliers to big companies which want to burnish their green credentials. If the SMEs want to maintain business ties, they will have to think about “greening” their operations.

For many SMEs, this would present another hurdle, on top of having to grapple with a talent crunch, as well as rising wage and operation costs.

Mr Kim added that SMEs “have a little bit less clarity than big corporations on what to do and how to (go green)”.

Financing remains a challenge as well.

Tai Hing, which recycles waste paper, metals and plastics, told The Straits Times that it has an opportunity to collaborate with an Australian firm to turn waste into energy.

However, it lacks the capital for the project, and has been trying to find out where it can get funding support.

“We don’t know what (funding) can be applied for, or what cannot be applied for. So we are still trying to work on it. We have been sending e-mails to Enterprise Singapore,” Ms Jacqueline Lim, second-generation owner of Tai Hing, added.

Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is the government agency tasked with helping companies grow, innovate and go overseas.

Another business owner, Ms Lynn Tan, said she used her own money to fund her sustainable hair care venture The Powder Shampoo. “There is a lack of support because there is no prior track record, and too much red tape and processes to go through,” she added, noting that private fund raising is a full-time job which she doesn’t have time for.

ESG can support these companies, with its Enterprise Financing Scheme – Green (EFS-Green) providing green financing for companies that develop technologies and solutions to reduce waste, resource use or greenhouse gas emissions.

ESG will co-share 70 per cent of the risk with partner financial institutions.

For some of these SMEs, getting people to know about their business is also a challenge. Tai Hing’s Ms Lim said a lot of people still do not know what can and cannot be recycled.

Some people have reservations about the green drive too, ST found out.

Mr Derrik Ling, 43, a sales manager, wonders whether building a more sustainable environment will impose costs on consumers.

Mr Wong Yuan Hao, 31, a freelance researcher, said he is wary of companies which claim to do things that are good for the world because their actions could be worse for sustainability or disadvantage certain communities.

Going green may be a challenge, but Schneider’s Mr Kim said: “With the challenge, comes opportunity.”

He added: “This green economy is generating lot of new green employment. This green economy is also bringing a lot of companies and a lot of entrepreneurs into this market.”

Author: Chor Khieng Yuit

DBS forges on with net-zero goals in 2022

Development Bank of Singapore building. Image: DBS

It is transforming its data centres and server rooms into carbon-neutral assets.

From Singapore Business Review

Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) is forging on with its sustainability goals, amongst its target being to achieve net-zero carbon emissions within its own operations by the end of 2022.

In its latest sustainability report, the bank outlined its biggest environmental-related moves in 2021, which include ceasing the acceptance of new customers who derive more than 25% of their revenue from thermal coal in 2021. 

The bank also pledged to progressively phase out thermal coal financing by 2039.

“There are many environmental challenges in front of us, but we have chosen to prioritise action on climate change as the most immediate issue given the urgency and how it is interrelated with other environmental and social concerns,” CEO Piyush Gupta said in the report.

The bank recently became the first Singapore bank to establish a Board Sustainability Committee.

As part of their goal for their Singapore offices to rely solely on renewable energy by 2030, DBS is transforming their data centres and server rooms into carbon-neutral assets.

Self-service branches and kiosks are also being redesigned to leverage solar power for their energy needs. DBS has also retrofitted its office for net-zero energy consumption.

Beyond the greenification of their physical operations, DBS committed S$20.5b to sustainable financing deals in 2021, more than double the amount from the previous year, the bank said.

DBS was also involved as a bookrunner in a combined S$23.5b of ESG bonds raised.