SINGAPORE — Providing an environmentally friendlier and potentially cheaper alternative to electricity fired by coal or natural gas, home-grown Sun Electric kicked off its first live distribution of solar power to local businesses on Monday (March 1). The solar-powered electricity is distributed through Singapore’s power grid and supplied by solar energy generators installed in collaboration with JTC Corporation (JTC) and SPRING Singapore.
Solar power will cost up to 15 per cent less than conventional electricity, according to Mr Eugene Lim, MD Finance at Sun Electric — the first solar energy company to obtain an electricity retail licence in Singapore. It also launched an array of clean energy products under SolarSpace, a platform that enables consumers in cities to buy solar energy, even if they do not have a roof of their own to install solar panels.
“Smaller consumers of energy such as SMEs can now do their part for the environment and sustainability by adopting clean energy,” said Dr Matthew Peloso, the company’s CEO, at a press conference.
The programme, said Dr Peloso, allows rooftop owners to capture sunlight striking their roof, and sell it to energy consumers in their city. Rooftop owners can install solar panels and generate energy while tracking their contribution to their city in real-time, and customers who buy the energy can monitor their usage easily on Sun Electric’s platform. He also announced the launch of Sun Electric in the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines with “strategic partners abroad”.
Anticipating demand growth, the company is in the process of raising US$50 million (S$70 million) and exploring options such as debt or equity funding, including a potential listing, in Singapore.
The funds raised will be deployed in expanding the company’s solar-power generation capacity from 0.5MW per year currently to 20MW by the end of this year. It has the in-built ability to ramp up capacity to 100MW per year, added Dr Peloso.
“By the second half of 2018 we aim to open the electricity retail market to full retail competition. This will empower the remaining 1.3 million small consumers, mainly households, with more option on how to better meet their electricity needs,” said Mr Loh Khum Yean, chairman of the Energy Market Authority (EMA).
Market interest in clean energy, said Mr Loh, has been growing significantly in Singapore, where the total installed solar PV capacity rose from 1.5MW in 2009 to 43.8MW by the end of last year, enough to power around 14,000 four-room flats a year. “We expect the strong growth of solar to continue as technology improves and cost goes down,” he added.
Seven local companies, including The Chope Group, Sky Tower on Sentosa, Pilatique, Seagift, Lotto Carpets Gallery, Absolute Living, and Duta Holdings, are the first set of clients receiving electricity from the solar energy generators installed on JTC rooftops in Tuas South under the test-bedding programme.