Credit programme makes solar panels more accessible for property owners

SINGAPORE – Wanting to do her part for the climate while saving on her electricity bill, Ms Ho Hui took advantage of a new scheme which allows owners to buy and install solar panels for their property.

The U-Solar Programme, an initiative launched in November last year by UOB Bank, is aimed at helping home and business owners go green.

Property owners can opt for interest-free instalment payments over 36 months when they use the UOB credit card.

The panels can generate up to 90kWh of energy in a day, with each panel producing 1 to 1.5kWh of energy.

While she declined to say how much she paid, The Straits Times understands that it would typically cost $50,000 for such a set-up.

 Ms Ho said she wanted to do her part by switching to renewable sources of energy, with “solar power being the most practical option, given the abundance of heat and sunlight in sunny Singapore”.

The solar panels were installed at her home over two months by SolarPVExchange, one of Singapore’s pioneer solar system integrators.

For landed properties, the energy savings are estimated to be between 20 and 50 per cent of the electricity bill, said Mr Rob Khoo, managing director of SolarPVExchange.

“Being able to pay by credit card allows me to defer my monthly payments, which could be accumulated, then translated into points and rewards,” said Ms Ho.

Businesses can also tap the programme, the bank added.

The U-Solar Programme also partners with other home-grown solar companies, including SolarGy and Sunseap Group.

Mr Khoo told The Straits Times: “Financial institutions have been stepping up their investments and lending activities to support the green movement in recognition of the fact that climate change has become a defining factor in a company’s long-term prospects.”

He said in Singapore, banks have recently been granting green loans, for example, in financing construction projects with clear environmental benefits.

These include certified green buildings and projects that improve resource efficiency and generate renewable energy.

Mr Khoo said the company has another home installation scheduled in early March, the second project since the programme was rolled out.

He added that there has also been a doubling in the number of customer enquiries since the launch of the UOB credit card programme.

SolarGy, SolarPVExchange and Sunseap lend weight to UOB’s solar financing plan

UOB has partnered homegrown solar companies SolarGy, SolarPVExchange and Sunseap Group for the Singapore portion of its regional U-Solar programme, which connects Asian businesses and individuals with the lender’s solar company partners to help clients go green by switching to solar power.

Under the collaboration, businesses and homeowners will be able to adopt solar energy by choosing from the installation, commissioning, operations and after-sales service packages for solar power systems provided by the three solar firms.

To help with the costs of installing and maintaining the system, UOB will offer business owners solar equipment financing, while homeowners can opt for a zero percent interest installment plan of up to 36 months.

U-Solar, which sees UOB partnering different solar companies for each market, was launched in Malaysia in October 2019 and subsequently in Indonesia, before it was unveiled in Singapore on Tuesday.

SolarPVExchange launches pilot instalment plan for solar PV system purchases

Press Release:

29 September 2017, Singapore – Amid growing demand for renewable energy in Singapore,SolarPVExchange, a subsidiary of Singapore’s leading clean energy provider Sunseap Group,said it will be launching a pilot hire purchase scheme for consumers and companies wishing to install solar panels at their premises.

Under the scheme which goes on trial in October, SolarPVExchange’s clients can pay for the solar panels and installations by regular instalments of up to five years. The scheme is available for the first 20 landed residential and commercial clients with a sizeable roof space who are not SolarPVExchange’s existing customers.

For landed property owners, a typical solar PV system costs $50,000 to $150,000 to purchase and install depending on the size of the solar PV system and the condition of the installation site. For commercial premises, it costs an average of $300,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the size of the solar PV system and condition of the installation site.
The solar panels come with a 20-to- 25 year-warranty. Maintenance costs are minimal.
Mr Rob Khoo, SolarPVExchange’s Managing Director, said: “This instalment plan was designed in response to customers’ demand. Lately, we have received a growing number of requests from both individuals and SMEs planning to go green but preferring not to pay a large lump sum
upfront.
“We are encouraged by the growing interest in renewable energy and the many homeowners and corporates eager to play their part in protecting the environment. The fact that solar energy no longer costs more than conventional energy has made the decision to switch easier and we
hope to get the message across to many more people.”
The average savings on electricity bills from switching to solar energy is about 20-30%, depending on the usage habits of the owners and size of the solar PV system.
SolarPVExchange said it welcomes all interested parties to email their contact details, layout of their premises’ rooftop and last six months’ energy bills to enquiries@solarpvex.com.
Developers and owners of sustainable or energy efficient projects can also contact the company if they require financing for their projects.
About SolarPVExchange
SolarPVExchange is Asia-Pacific’s largest solar marketplace and also the first ever online marketplace in Asia-Pacific that revolutionises the solar PV marketplace with their matchmaking and investment platforms by bringing together the initiators (owners), installers (solar PVinstallers) and investors. The intuitive online platform enables everyone to interact with the whole spectrum of solar market participants, satisfying solar customer’s needs by standardising and simplifying the current solar PV installation and financing process.

Media Contacts
SolarPVExchange Pte Ltd
enquiries@solarpvex.com

Media Release: SolarPVExchange’s 2nd Crowdfunded Renewable Energy Project repays Investors’ principal and interest

Media Release:

SolarPVExchange’s Second Crowdfunded Renewable Energy Project Repays Investors’ Principal and Interest

24 May 2017, Singapore – SolarPVExchange, Asia Pacific’s biggest solar marketplace, has completed its second crowdfunded renewable energy project and repaid its investors in full. Investors who participated in the crowdfunding project also received a seven per cent per annum interest on their principal amount.

The project was completed in 2016 and this month, all investors were repaid the principal amount with interest for the one-year investment.

Under the agreement, Sunseap received the funds raised from SolarPVExchange and paid for the new solar energy system.

Mr Rob Khoo, SolarPVExchange’s Managing Director, said: “This is our second SunVest renewable energy project which we have successfully crowd funded and paid back our investors. We will continue to work closely with our investors, partners and the relevant authorities to ensure the viability of SunVest and also to further build the confidence of our investors and partners. Lastly we hope that we can contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint by searching for green renewable projects for crowd funding.”

About SolarPVExchange

SolarPVExchange is a leading Asia Pacific solar marketplace which provides building owners a platform to find the best offer for their solar PV installation by matchmaking them with the right solar installer. On top of that, SolarPVExchange also helps to crowdfund for energy-related projects (such as solar and energy efficiency projects) via SunVest, a user-friendly crowdfunding platform.

 

About Sunseap

Sunseap Group is the leading clean energy provider in Singapore. Sunseap Group is the holding company for its 3 business units; Sunseap Leasing, Sunseap Energy, and Sunseap International. Sunseap Leasing is the market leader in Singapore specializing in rooftop solar solutions via its Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Sunseap Energy functions as the energy retailing arm of the group, with a key focus in offsite clean energy solutions utilising the group’s portfolio of distributed generation assets. Sunseap international replicates the Solar PPA model in regional and international territories.

 

Media Contacts

SolarPVExchange Pte Ltd

sunvest@solarpvex.com

SolarPVExchange’s first crowdfunded renewable energy project repays investors’ principal and interest

sia club 3

24 April 2017, Singapore – SolarPVExchange, Asia Pacific’s biggest solar marketplace, has completed its first crowdfunded renewable energy project and repaid its investors in full.

Investors who participated in the crowdfunding project also received a seven per cent per annum interest on their principal amount.
SolarPVExchange, together with CoAssets (a crowdfunding platform), raised a total of $390,340 in April 2016 under its crowdfunding platform SunVest programme, for one of Sunseap’s solar projects to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to help it’s clients reduce its carbon footprint and electrical bills.
The project was completed in 2016 and this month, all investors were repaid the principal amount with interest for the one-year investment.
Under the agreement, Sunseap received the funds raised from SolarPVExchange and paid for the new solar energy system.
The completed 202.125 kilowatt-peak solar PV system will help Sunseap’s client offset about 116 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

sia club 1

Mr Rob Khoo, SolarPVExchange’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted with the success of our first crowdfunding project. It affirms the viability of investing in solar energy infrastructure as an asset class that is available to retail investors. It is also an investment that promotes green energy and protects the environment.
“Building owners who want to save on their electricity bill can use our platform to crowdsource their solar PV installations (and even their energy efficiency technology), while investors can help fund such worthwhile projects with as little as $5,000 in investments.”
The SunVest crowdfunding platform was launched in March 2016, and so far has raised about $900,000 for five projects. Last year, it successfully funded the first solar crowdfunding project for a residential home in Singapore when it raised $22,500 from two investors in 11 days to help a homemaker install a solar PV system on the rooftop of her three-storey home.
SolarPVExchange will be launching another SunVest Project in May. Interested investors may find out more information from the company’s website, http://solarpvexchange.com/.

About SolarPVExchange
SolarPVExchange is a leading Asia Pacific solar marketplace which provides building owners a platform to find the best offer for their solar PV installation by matchmaking them with the right solar installer. On top of that, SolarPVExchange also helps to crowdfund for energy-related projects (such as solar and energy efficiency projects) via SunVest, a user-friendly crowdfunding platform. Through its SunVest programme, those with energy-related projects requiring capital can post details of the projects on the platform and retail investors can invest in these projects with a minimum investment sum of $5,000.

About Sunseap
Sunseap Group is the leading clean energy provider in Singapore. Sunseap Group is the holding company for its 3 business units; Sunseap Leasing, Sunseap Energy, and Sunseap International. Sunseap Leasing is the market leader in Singapore specializing in rooftop solar solutions via its Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Sunseap Energy functions as the energy retailing arm of the group, with a key focus in offsite clean energy solutions utilising the group’s portfolio of distributed generation assets. Sunseap international replicates the Solar PPA model in regional and international territories.

Media Contacts:
enquiries@solarpvex.com

Bukit Timah penthouse gets power from the sun

st_20161017_solar17_2672652

By Carolyn Khew – 17 Oct 2016

Walking On Sunshine – so the popular song goes.

Housewife Pho Hong Ling’s home in Bukit Timah runs on sunshine.

Three weeks ago, her son Robin Pho, 37, had solar panels installed in her penthouse condominium.

It was something that Mr Pho had wanted to do for a long time. But having to fork out tens of thousands of dollars for solar panels at a go stood in the way.

And so when he came to know of a crowdfunding initiative by Singapore-based solar consultancy firm SolarPVExchange, Mr Pho jumped at the opportunity.

The scheme is a win-win for both home owners and “green investors” who put in money to crowdfund the solar projects. Home owners get to tap renewable energy by paying via monthly instalments. Those who crowdfund get a 7 per cent return when the full amount is repaid.

Costing about $22,000 in all, the solar panels at Mrs Pho’s home generate about 20 kilowatt hours of electricity a day and is used to power the Wi-Fi router, fans and computers, among other devices.

“The scheme allows me to pay for my solar project via instalments, which is helpful on the cash flow,” said Mr Pho.

While he has yet to receive his monthly electricity bill, he estimates that solar energy will help to cut about half of the monthly electricity bill, which usually runs to about $190.

Should there be excess solar energy which can be exported back to the grid, he will also receive payment from SP Services by way of credit adjustment to the monthly electricity bill.

“I wish I had done this earlier,” said Mr Pho, who is the group chief executive of a family business which looks at supplying manpower to the oil and gas industry.

“The solar panels double as a canopy and is a great talking point when family and friends come over to hang out.”

Carolyn Khew

Original Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/bukit-timah-penthouse-gets-power-from-the-sun

Crowdfunding helps woman set up solar energy system at home (Today: 13 June 2016)

By Siau Ming En -June 13

SINGAPORE — When Ms Joyce Goh, 49, was renovating her Bukit Timah home a decade ago, she wanted to build a solar energy system on her rooftop, but it was too costly.

Things changed last week when Singaporeans helped her fund a solar photovoltaic (PV) system — possibly the first successful solar crowdfunding project for residential homes in Asia.

The project raised S$22,500 from two investors in 11 days, and the homemaker will install a 4.725 kWp solar PV system on her three-storey home in Cheng Soon Garden in the weeks ahead.

SunVest, the crowdfunding platform from SolarPVExchange, will put up more renewable projects, such as solar PV systems, for crowdfunding.

If successful, homeowners could adopt solar energy and, instead of paying upfront costs, fund their systems through an instalment plan. For instance, as Ms Goh, who lives with her husband and five children, is paying for another round of home renovations, SunVest’s 12-month instalment plan helps spread out the S$22,500 payment, she said.

Meanwhile, investors could earn interest through such green, renewable projects. In Ms Goh’s project, they will get 7 per cent, but the returns can vary, SolarPVExchange managing director Rob Khoo said.

He added that it is difficult to pinpoint a range of returns, which depend on local market conditions and the project’s size, costs and profile, among other factors.

Minimally, SunVest requires at least S$3,000 from its “green investors” for each project, with returns “based on the commercial arrangement with the project partners”. So far, it has successfully crowdfunded two projects.

Ms Celine Lim, one of the investors for Ms Goh’s project, said she was “greening” her investment portfolio as part of a lifestyle overhaul to mitigate climate change however she can.

The co-organiser of Singapore Eco Film Festival felt the investment, her first in a solar energy project, made sense given that Singapore gets sunlight year-round.

Though she declined to reveal the amount she invested, Ms Lim said the return will probably be enough to offset her personal carbon emissions for this year, and “definitely beats the current rate of inflation”.

“As with any other investment, investing in solar energy carries a certain risk, so I did my due diligence, as well as made sure I didn’t have a bad gut feeling about it,” said Ms Lim.

The system at Ms Goh’s home will generate about 6,000 kWh of clean energy a year, which will go into the grid. The monthly grid contributions will be reflected as deductions — expected to be 20 to 35 per cent lower — to her monthly utilities bill.

The solar energy system will also double as a canopy to cool the house and reduce its reliance on air conditioning.

Though none of her peers had a home solar-energy system, Ms Goh told TODAY she wanted to try it out herself.

“I’m driving an electric car, and when I get my building materials, I try to get recycled materials … Solar energy was in line with what I wanted and what I believe in,” she added.

Original Source: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/crowdfunding-helps-woman-set-solar-energy-system-home

Crowdfunding used for solar installation at Singapore residential property (BT: 10 June 2016)

By Andrea Soh sandrea@sph.com.sg @AndreaSohBT

IN what is believed to be the first of its kind in Asia, a residential property in Singapore has successfully used crowdfunding to finance the installation of solar cells on its rooftop.

The project, launched on May 25, met its target of S$22,500 within 11 days, and some of the investors who were interested had to be turned away, said SolarPVExchange, which provides the crowdfunding platform.

The solar photovoltaic system will produce 4.725 kilowatt at peak capacity, and generate about 6,000 kilowatt-hour of clean energy a year.

The amount of carbon emission reduction from using the clean energy is equivalent to that produced by about 120 trees in a year, said SolarPVExchange.

Under the crowdfunding arrangement, the homeowner pays for the solar system through interest-free monthly instalments, while crowdfunding investors achieve a 7 per cent interest return on their principal amount upon maturity of the loan on June 30 next year.

The owner of the property, at 48 Kismis Avenue, Cheng Soon Garden, said that her attempt to use solar energy 10 years ago was unsuccessful as it was not available to retail customers then. “With the recent increase in solar adoption, coupled by SolarPVExchange’s sincere efforts in crowdfunding, I am glad to proceed with this project as planned,” said Joyce Goh.

SolarPVExchange said it is now in talks for a crowdfunding campaign with another residential owner.

Amendment note: An earlier version of this story stated that the amount raised is in US dollars. This has been revised to reflect that it is in Singapore dollars. 

Original Source: http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/crowdfunding-used-for-solar-installation-at-singapore-residential-property

Here Comes The Sun (WKWSCI alumni magazine: April 2016)

Here Comes The Sun

Rob Khoo’s (CS’01) search for a change led him to the renewable energy business.

After leaving the media sector, Rob Khoo set up his own business SolarPVExchange in 2014. The company serves as a platform to link up solar panel installation companies with potential customers. Photo: LU YAWEN

More than a decade into his career in the media business, Rob Khoo was looking for a change in 2014. Together with two other friends, he noticed a rising demand for renewable energy in Singapore, but observed that there was a lack of information for interested consumers.

On the strength of about $500,000, he and his two friends took the plunge and set up SolarPVExchange, a portal that serves as a platform to link up solar panel installation companies with potential customers.

Inspired by other intermediary websites like PropertyGuru, the company aims to be a one-stop convenient portal, catering to the nation’s growing solar energy needs. The company also operates regionally in markets like Australia and Malaysia.

The 40-year-old CEO noted that solar panel installers typically come from “a very traditional setup with a brick-and-mortar store.” “If you want more information, you would have to call all the different companies to compare the prices,” he said.

“An added incentive of the job is that we even get to help people save money and protect the environment at the same time. Everyone benefits – we get to save more and save the Earth as well.”

ROB KHOO

“But SolarPVExchange is like the middleman for solar panels. It is a platform where we find all the people that want to install solar panels and aggregate them, find the installers in the country and match interested parties together,” Khoo explained.

To date, the company has been involved in notable projects with Jurong Port, which now boasts some 13 football fields worth of solar panels, and the Singapore Airlines Sports Club.

“An added incentive of the job is that we even get to help people save money and protect the environment at the same time. Everyone benefits – we get to save more and save the Earth as well,” Khoo said.

Driven by this concern for the environment, the company launched another initiative, SunVest, last May. SunVest is the first solar crowdsourcing platform in Asia Pacific that introduces building owners to potential solar energy investors.

Business at SolarPVExchange has been brisk. In an interview with TODAY last December, Khoo noted that the company has seen a double-fold increase in enquiries since they started – with an average of three to five corporate queries and five to 10 residential queries each week.

With a growing demand, coupled with the government’s shift towards clean and sustainable energy sources, Khoo is optimistic about the company’s regional expansion plans. The company is also planning to launch an initial public offering.

Looking back, making a career switch from the broadcast industry was not easy. The lack of technical know-how of solar panels and knowledge of the sustainable energy sector, however, did not deter Khoo.

“At a certain point of time, you just got to ask yourself if you want to continue doing what you have been doing for the rest of your life. Or do you want to do something different that people can remember and recognise you for,” he said.

Having previously worked for Mediacorp, Channel [V] and Fox International, where he produced television shows and commercials, Khoo was able to synthesise his media experience into sales strategy for SolarPVExchange.

“At a certain point of time, you just got to ask yourself if you want to continue doing what you have been doing for the rest of your life. Or do you want to do something different that people can remember and recognise you for.”

Earlier in his career, he was trained to manage client expectations and balance it with consumer needs. Khoo observed that clients tend to over-sell their products or service, but consumers are usually not interested in the company’s message.

“They want to know what is in it for them and how the product benefits them,” he explained.

“Being able to distil the gist of what I am trying to sell, and making it relevant to the customers was something I found particularly useful when I entered this new business,” he added.

This consumer-centric approach is evident in their website, where they engaged professionals to create an informative tutorial video on how to start investing in solar energy. Since then, they have received over 2,000 enquiries on their website.

SolarPVExchange also sends out regular newsletters to subscribers and customers to keep them informed of the latest commercial and residential projects, and to engage its community.

But ask this producer-turned-businessman if he had ever imagined starting his own regional company when he was in WKWSCI fifteen years ago, he would laugh you off.

“Back then all I wanted was to just graduate and travel around the world. You can’t really plan so much in life,” Khoo said.

Looking back at his time in school, Khoo has one piece of advice for the current students ­– “just try.”

“Try everything that you can. You don’t have to know everything in depth. But when you try, you will appreciate how things work in the media industry,” he said. “You can then make the best use of what you learnt in school in whatever you are doing in the future.”

(Original Source: http://wkwscialumnimagazine.com/april-2016/features-multimedia/here-comes-the-sun)

It’s like buying the sun: how some people invest in solar power (The Middle Ground: 07 April 2016)

by Ryan Ong

QUICK, what’s the main use of the sun? That’s right – it’s to power the air conditioner… when it’s coupled with solar panels. (Yes, we know, it sustains the cycle of life, etc.) Now though, solar power has another use: It could help your wallet. More people are beginning to consider it a serious investment, and not in the sense of buying shares and bonds either.

The rise of solar energy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has speculated that solar power could be the next big thing. At the current rate of advancement, solar power has the potential to surpass fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro, and wind power by 2050.

But we were singing a different tune in the ’90s.

Back then, solar was a cute gimmick used to power calculators. The cost of photovoltaic panels (solar panels) was high, as was the cost of installation. Solar cells often had an efficiency rate of under 20 per cent, which meant you needed a football field of panels to power a small building.

But about five to seven years ago, there was a major revolution.

Government funded research into solar power started to pay off, and solar cells with efficiency rates reaching 40 per cent are now being tested. The price of solar panels fell with economies of scale; more countries began to fund solar installations, and over the past five years the cost of panels have fallen almost 90 per cent.

This has investors rushing to get in on the ground floor. One of Asia’s solar companies, SolarPVExchange, provides investment opportunities for interested parties. I spoke to their director Rob Khoo, 40.

How does solar investing work?

The process starts with an initiator. The initiator is any entity, corporate or otherwise, that wants a solar power system for its building. SolarPVExchange finds investors and the money helps to pay for the cost of installation.

Once the system is running, the initiator will pay SolarPVExchange for the electricity they use (just as you pay your power bill.) SolarPVExchange then pays back investors from the amount collected, with interest.

At present, the interest paid is seven per cent per annum.

This would be considered high for most passive investments (at least, the sort available to the general public). For comparison sake, seven per cent is the same rate of return projected for most Investment-Linked Insurance Policies (ILPs).

Another interesting aspect about this investment is its short term nature. It is only a year long.

Why make the investments just one year long?

Mr Khoo says it’s because “many solar developers just need short term financing, such as bridging loans, because of the high initial cost of installation”.

This is also why they seek investors directly instead of banks, as “banks only kick off financing once the project is off the ground, and has been running for two or three months”.

In addition, the short duration provides flexibility to investors. You can invest for one year, and if it pays off, re-invest for another year, etc. Your money is not “locked in” for 10 or 15 years, as is the case with insurance policies or fixed deposits.

Mr Khoo says this kind of investment is suited for “PMETs who have worked a few years, and have accumulated wealth”. “It can also be for retirees who want to maximise their savings,” he said.

The latest investment opportunity was the SunVest project. This was a project to install solar power for the SIA Sports Club, at 726 Upper Changi Road East.

The SunVest project closed on April 4, 2016, and had a minimum investment of $3,000. Visit the SolarPVExchangewebsite for details on other investments.

What are the risks involved?

The main risk is that the initiator can’t pay. This is improbable (I doubt the SIA Sports Club will default on its power bill, for example), but it’s not impossible.

Investors will have to study the initiator and decide if it’s worth the risk – they are always able to see which organisation or building their money is going to.

Regarding other factors, such as damage to the solar power system, Mr Khoo says it will not impact investors. The relevant contracts require that investors receive their payment, even in light of such events.

Benefits to initiators

The initiators are also investors in a sense. They’re investing in solar power in the hopes it will reduce power costs. Mr Khoo says the amount an initiator saves, in power bills, can vary widely: “The savings depend on the size of the system installed, and the power consumption. They can save anywhere from 10 per cent to 40 per cent.”

A bigger solar power system will generate more electricity, thus reducing their reliance on regular power from the grid. But how much power is consumed, and when it’s consumed, makes a big difference. Mr. Khoo says: “If they have a very big system, but most of the electricity they use is during the night, the savings can still be low.”

But what about cheap oil? Doesn’t it pose a threat to sustainable energy as a whole?

I gather that this isn’t a big deal for short-term investors, who are just in it for a year. But for those who want to invest the traditional way (i.e. buy stocks and bonds in solar companies), cheap oil is a major issue.

When oil prices plummet, the interest in renewable energy often falls with it. Why would anyone be motivated to use expensive alternatives like wind, solar, or hydro power, when oil is dirt cheap?

Mr Khoo admits that in the short term, this will impact solar power. But in the long term, the low oil prices we’re seeing are unsustainable. They will go back up, and they have risen to around $40 a barrel, from a 10 year low of around $26.55 in January 2016.

My own opinion is that globally, governments will carry on incentivising the adoption of solar power, through policies such as micro-generation grants (tax cuts for buildings that generate their own power). But in the near to mid-term, we could see lower interest in solar power.

That’s another reason one might consider investing through the SolarPVExchange method, rather than through conventional stocks and bonds.

The ethical dimension

Money aside, this investment could work as a sort of environmental commitment. In order to make solar power viable, we need to see mass adoption of the technology. The more buildings use solar panels, the more we’ll manufacture and the more research will go into improving them.

Investing in solar power builds alternatives to fossil fuels, which translates to cleaner air and better overall health in our societies.

(Original Source: http://themiddleground.sg/2016/04/07/like-buying-sun-singaporeans-invest-solar-power/)

New business models set to shake up solar energy sector (BT: 22 June 2015)

From blended power solutions to electricity futures and even a crowdsourcing exchange, Singapore is making huge strides

By Chan Yi Wen    yiwenc@sph.com.sg     @ChanYiWenBT

Singapore

THE high upfront cost of solar energy has long dampened its prospects on sunny island Singapore. But the clouds may have finally cleared with a wave of business models that is sweetening the prospects of solar energy.

Now, a second wave is underway, which may spur further uptake.

Technology breakthroughs have already lowered the cost of solar photovoltaics (PVs), which has tumbled about 75 per cent since end-2009, but the upfront costs of installing rooftop solar PVs can be daunting.

The Sunshine Connection (NCCS: Jan 2015)

A first in Singapore, local start-up SolarPVExchange plays online matchmaker between property owners and solar panel providers.

Turning to solar energy for one’s electricity needs sounds like a good deal — you get to save on your utility bill and reduce your carbon footprint. But where do you get started to make your house or office solar-ready, and what about the cost? Instead of approaching several solar photovoltaic (PV) installation companies separately to find out the cost, and then figuring out on your own what the numbers mean, local website SolarPVExchange offers to help you out.

Launched in June 2014, SolarPVExchange links homeowners and corporations to credible solar PV installers in Singapore. Property owners who wish to install solar panels submit requests through the website and interested solar PV installers respond with quotations for owners to compare and decide on their preferred vendor. To date, SolarPVExchange has successfully done about 10 matches, and has more than 20 solar energy firms in the solar energy sector signed up as installers.

When asked about the main motivation behind SolarPVExchange, managing director Rob Khoo had a big vision in mind: “My friend introduced to me this concept of solar PV matching, which is available in other countries such as the US and Australia, so I decided to create it here to help people realise that solar PV is a feasible solution in saving energy.”

Many homeowners have the misconception that solar panel installations are just for buildings on landed property with large roofs. However, those living in condominiums can also tap on solar energy, particularly penthouse owners, as long as they get permission from their condominium’s management team.

As for those living in other types of condominium units, Khoo suggests that when a majority of homeowners in one condominium block agree to adopt solar energy, they could arrange to power common facilities such as corridor lighting with the generated solar energy. That helps to save utility cost for all homeowners!

“The premise is very simple: Any building that has a big roof exposed to the sun and uses a lot of electricity during the day is most suitable for solar. The price of electricity from the grid is getting higher while the prices of solar panels are coming down, so it makes sense for more people to consider solar energy. What’s more, excess energy produced by the solar PV system can be sold back to the grid,” said Khoo.

The Sunshine Connection

SolarPVExchange managing director Rob Khoo (right) showing the website, together with Lawrence Wu, director of solar leasing company Sunseap Leasing. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission

According to Khoo, the cost of installing panels for homes can range from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the size of the roof, the type of house, and how complex the installation is.

As the upfront costs of installing panels may be too high for some property owners, SolarPVExchange is currently working on a crowdsourcing model in which investors help finance the solar PV installations. The way Khoo sees it, crowdsourcing can take place in two forms: a “zero-return” model, or an investment model.

The “zero-return” model is a fund-raising exercise more suited for non-profit or charitable organisations, such as a church or temple. Here, donors contribute funds that will allow the organisation to install the solar panels.

In the investment model, investors defray the installation costs for homes and offices, with the future savings on the utility bill split between the property owner and the investors.

As tapping on clean renewable solar energy is gaining traction in Singapore, property owners now have more options when it comes to installing their own panels. That’s great news indeed, especially since the Government is encouraging more people to use solar energy, and taking similar green steps as well, such as installing solar panels on more government buildings and spaces. As we all look towards increasing our solar energy usage, the prospect of decreasing Singapore’s combined carbon footprint is brighter than before!

(Original Source: https://www.nccs.gov.sg/climatechallenge/issue12/the-sunshine-connection.html)

Jurong Port to top world ports in solar energy generation (StraitsTimes: 16 Jan 2015)

SINGAPORE – Jurong Port announced on Friday (Jan 16) that it will soon have the largest port-based solar panel facility in the world with a $30 million installation expected to be completed in December this year.

The installation is a collaboration with Sunseap, the largest provider of solar leasing in Singapore and their partner, SolarPV Exchange.

More than 95,000 square metres of warehouse roof space, equivalent to 13 football fields, will be installed with solar panels. The system is expected to generate 10 megawatts of electricity at its peak capacity. The electricity produced will be equivalent to the consumption of 2,800 units of 4-room HDB flats annually.

The electricity generated will be used by Jurong Port, with excess electricity being channelled into the Singapore power grid for other users.

“This project is testimony to our ongoing efforts to promote environmental sustainability,” said Jurong Port’s CEO Ooi Boon Hoe. “The project will help promote Singapore as a hub for green energy generation.”

 Said Mr Frank Phuan, managing director of Sunseap: “We hope that this project can be a reference for other port facilities to follow in its footsteps,” .

Harnessing people power for solar energy (TODAY: 23 August 2014)

Solar panels at the top of a building at Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park. SolarPVExchange aims to tackle the high upfront costs of setting up a solar PV system. Today File Photo

Local firm’s initiative will link investors with building owners to fund photovoltaic systems

PUBLISHED: 4:04 AM, AUGUST 23, 2014
UPDATED: 9:10 AM, AUGUST 23, 2014

SINGAPORE — Already gaining traction in the United States and Europe, a model of getting the public to collectively fund the installation of solar panels on private properties — for as little as S$10 in exchange for modest returns — is set to be launched in Singapore next month.

SolarPVExchange, a local website that links solar installation companies with potential customers, is launching a crowdsourcing initiative that will link investors with owners of residential and small commercial buildings to fund solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

It is aimed at tackling the high upfront costs of setting up a solar PV system, which may be daunting to small property owners.

Speaking to TODAY, SolarPVExchange managing director Rob Khoo said many do not see the benefits of adopting this form of renewable energy as it takes years for owners of the solar PV systems to recover the investment via cost savings.

“Rather than (making) people pay huge upfront costs … you don’t have to pay a single cent and you (can) continue to make savings (in your) monthly electricity bill,” he said. “At the end of 20 years, or even before that, the system is all yours.”

The company’s website currently serves as a platform for solar installation companies to submit price quotations for projects submitted by property owners. Since its launch in June, the firm has seen about 60 interested parties and, among them, about half were seeking quotations.

Under the new crowdsourcing model, residential and small commercial building owners will first obtain a Sun Quote, or price quotation, for a solar PV system. Next, they have to determine how much they hope to save on their electricity bill. This, together with other factors such as how efficiently the solar PV system installed generates electricity, affects how much investors earn.

After the company calculates the estimated rate of return over 20 years, property owners will be able to put the project — which is expected to cost between S$10,000 and S$2 million — up for crowdsourcing on a website to be launched by SolarPVExchange.

Building owners have up to 60 days to raise the full amount, failing which the project will be scrapped. If successful, they will pay SolarPVExchange an agreed-upon sum each month for 20 years. The company then pays to investors the monies collated on a yearly basis.

At the end of 20 years, investors would have earned back their investment plus at least an internal rate of return of 5 per cent, while building owners would have full ownership of the solar PV systems. On months when building owners save more on their electricity bills thanks to “bumper” amounts of solar power generated, they can pay SolarPVExchange an additional amount, thereby shortening their tenure.

With this model, Mr Khoo said investors could start to see profits after about five to eight years for small commercial buildings, or about eight to 15 years for residences.

In the US and Europe, crowdsourcing models for solar panels have seen a promising response. Among them is one offered by California-based Mosaic, introduced early last year. Individuals can participate in its solar projects with a minimum of US$25 (S$31), for returns of about 4.5 per cent. To date, the firm has facilitated about US$9 million in investments, figures on its website showed.

Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N), said the upfront capital investment needed remains a major hurdle. As such, innovative business models, such as solar leasing, can help drive growth in the industry, he said.

“Crowdsourcing promises to be yet another exciting business model where the investors have the opportunity to (get) higher returns than many investments and also get buoyed by the ‘feel good’ factor of supporting environmentally-friendly solutions using solar PV,” he added.

But Mr Nilesh Jadhav, programme director at ERI@N, said investors have to exercise due diligence. For example, they need to consider the quality, location and size of the installations, which could affect the efficiency of the systems. They should also check whether warranties, maintenance costs and insurance are covered by suppliers, as it could result in escalated costs for the project and affect the returns.

Mr Nilesh also said the crowdsourcing model would be more suited for smaller solar PV projects — such as on the rooftops of private homes or smaller establishments — as it could be difficult to raise larger amounts through crowdsourcing.

When contacted, the Energy Market Authority said as solar deployment increases here, Singapore may see new technologies and business models evolve.

The authority added that it welcomes industry-driven initiatives that facilitate the deployment of solar energy in Singapore.

(Original Source: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/harnessing-people-power-solar-energy-0?singlepage=true)

Online shopping for solar comes to Asia (Eco-Business: 25 June 2014)

The newly launched Solar MarketPlace will connect homeowners and businesses looking to install solar panels with vendors via an online portal, making the process of adopting solar solutions much easier. Image: Iryna Rasko / Shutterstock.com

Homes with solar panels on the rise (Yahoo!news: 20 June 2014)

Homes with solar panels on the rise

June 20, 2014

The number of residential solar panel installations in Singapore has increased from 35 in 2011 to 129 in 2013, said media reports.

But those who are reluctant to install solar panels due to the high installation cost still have other options.

SolarPVExchange, for instance, has offered to match a homeowner wanting to install solar panels with investors, who will pay the installation costs. As the homeowners enjoy reduced electricity bills, they will pay a percentage of the amount saved to the investors over the next 20 years.

Investors, on the other hand, can expect to receive a minimum return of five percent.

Another company that has tapped into the growing interest in solar technology is Sunseap Leasing.

The company receives around 30 enquiries each month, up from five per month in 2010.

“One reason is because solar panel prices have dropped over the years. Since 2009 till now, the prices have dipped more than half,” said Frank Phuan, Director of Sunseap Leasing.

Meanwhile, the government is encouraging more homeowners to use solar power.

Notably, homeowners with excess electricity generated from their solar panels can sell them back to the power grid. They are paid the energy cost of the electricity exported into the grid, with the amount offset from their electricity bill.

In fact, 280 landed homeowners and town councils were listed under this credit scheme as of April 2014.

(Original Source: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/homes-solar-panels-rise-022448872–sector.html)

Website to serve as matchmaker for solar firms (AsiaOne: 20 Jun 2014)

SolarPVExchange managing director Rob Khoo (right) and director Lawrence Wu showing their website, which can also be used to estimate property owners’ utility bill savings from opting for solar energy.

A new website launched yesterday aims to make the costly and time-consuming process of finding the right solar panel provider for your home or office much easier.

The site – SolarPVExchange – is a matchmaker in that it links solar panel installers and property owners, allowing firms to submit price quotes for projects put up by individuals and companies.

Property owners will also be able to use the website to estimate their utility bill savings from using solar energy.

SolarPVExchange will take a 4 per cent cut from the cost of successful installation projects.

Interest in solar energy has been gaining momentum, with policymakers aiming to boost its take-up here, including ensuring that it is used across more government buildings and spaces.

“Solar energy is still not widely used here partly due to a lack of access to information,” said Mr Rob Khoo, SolarPVExchange’s managing director.

This is despite the cost of solar panel installation falling significantly in the past decade.

Mr Khoo added that commercial property owners and developers have expressed interest in the new platform as a more efficient method of tendering for solar energy projects.

About 15 solar panel installation companies have signed on to the platform. There are more than 20 companies in the solar energy sector here.

The cost of installing panels in a home can range from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the complexity of the process, said Mr Khoo.

Home owners who find the costs too prohibitive can opt for the new site’s “crowdleasing” function, which will be rolled out next month.

This will allow investors to help finance installations in homes and offices.

Property owners – who do not incur any upfront costs – will then split their utility bill savings with investors.

“The benefits of solar energy are there, but for a lot of home owners it’s a matter of how the installation is financed,” said Mr Khoo.

Solar energy firms said the market for installing panels on commercial buildings has gained significantly more traction than residential demand.

Mr Ken Tan, director of solar energy firm Ecosys Infrastructure, said the company has seen rising interest among commercial and industrial property owners, of both upcoming and existing buildings.

This has been concentrated among larger firms, however, as “solar panels require significant roof space”.

Ms Tricia Chia, 34, said she has been considering alternative energy for her terraced home because of high utility bills.

“I’ve always understood it to be quite costly, and not an option for residential homes,” added Ms Chia, who works in a private bank.

“But there now seem to be new technologies and financing methods that are more palatable for home owners.”

SolarPVExchange was also launched in Malaysia yesterday and will be progressively rolled out to the rest of the region, said Mr Khoo.

The company is also looking into similar platforms for other forms of renewable energy, such as wind and hydroelectric power, he added.

(Original Source: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/website-serve-matchmaker-solar-firms)