In just slightly more than a year since its launch in October 2019, UOB’s U-Solar¹ programme has facilitated the generation of close to 160 gigawatt hours of solar power² across ASEAN, reducing more than 77,200 tonnes CO₂-equivalent (tCO₂e)³ in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This GHG emissionreduction is equivalent to having close to 1.3 million new tree seedlings grow over 10 years or taking close to 17,000 cars off the road for one year⁴.
U-Solar is Asia’s first solar industry ecosystem to power the development and adoption of renewable energy across Southeast Asia. Through U-Solar, available in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, the Bank offers businesses and consumers across Southeast Asia a suite of financial solutions to encourage the development and adoption of solar power. These solutions include providing cash management and green financing to solar project developers, as well as end-to-end contract-based financing solutions to engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contractors.
UOB also offers zero per cent interest on instalment plans for business and home owners switching to solar power through tie-ups with local solar power service providers. Over the last few months, the Bank added three EPCC firms – PT Selaras Daya Utama in Indonesia, Pekat Solar Sdn Bhd in Malaysia and BECIS-Symbior in Thailand – to its network of U-Solar partners, bringing the total to 14 across the region⁵. The expanded partner ecosystem enables the Bank to bring the benefits of U-Solar to more companies and consumers across ASEAN.
Frederick Chin, Head of Group Wholesale Banking and Markets, UOB, said, “The global pandemic has highlighted and accelerated the need for us all – countries, companies, communities and individuals – to do more to protect and to preserve our environment. As a leading financial institution in the region, UOB recognises the role we can play in contributing to economic and environmental well-being. Through initiatives such as U-Solar, Asia’s first solar industry ecosystem, we provide a platform that helps drive the development of the solar power industry and promotes the use of renewable energy. Together with our partners and customers, we will accelerate the region’s progress to a lower-carbon economy and forge a sustainable future for a better ASEAN.”
The U-Solar programme is part of the UOB Smart City Sustainable Finance Framework⁶, which guides the Bank’s financing efforts to support the development of smart and sustainable cities across the region.
In Malaysia, the U-Solar programme helped to generate 29,300 megawatt hours (MWh) in solar power as at end-2020⁷. This equates to more than 19,000 tCO₂–e inGHG emission reduction, or more than 316,000 tree seedlings grown for 10 years or more than 4,100 cars taken off the road for one year.
Ms Ng Wei Wei, Country Head of Wholesale Banking, UOB Malaysia, said, “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we live, work and conduct business. As we transition into the post-COVID-19 era, more people are looking at how they can be more sustainable in their behaviours. With solar power becoming a more affordable, accessible and reliable source of renewable energy in Southeast Asia, switching to a power source harnessed from the sun enables companies and individuals to save money while reducing their carbon footprint.
“As such, UOB Malaysia is positive about the market demand for solar power solutions. We have built a strong pipeline of deals and expect the demand for our U-Solar solutions to increase with the measures introduced under Malaysia’s National Budget 2021 and the new Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 programme. These measures will further raise private sector participation, mainly in the manufacturing, industrial and services industries, to invest in green technology and clean energy.”
Malaysia’s National Budget 2021, tabled in November 2020, reflects the government’s commitment to the green economy agenda. To ensure environmental sustainability, the government has proposed to continue with the successful Green Technology Financial Scheme, with an allocation of RM2 billion for 2021 and 2022. In addition, the new NEM 3.0 programme will enable consumers to install solar systems on the roofs of their premises and to sell excess power generated back to the grid so that they can offset their electricity bills. Targeted be rolled out in April 2021, the programme has a total quota allocation of up to 500 megawatts⁸.
In November 2020, UOB Malaysia was recognised for its efforts in promoting solar power adoption to businesses and consumers in Malaysia. The Bank received a Special Award for Sustainable Energy Financing (Conventional Financing) at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Malaysia’s National Energy Awards 2020.
Ng said, “This is a new award that recognises the efforts of financial institutions in encouraging the adoption of green technology through financing solutions. We are honoured to be one of the first recipients of the award and that our commitment and support to our customers are recognised and highly regarded by the Ministry.”
Heng Kuan Chor, Managing Director of OEL Realty Holdings Sdn Bhd, said, “Under U-Solar, UOB provided us a comprehensive solar power solution at our premise, complete with an efficient end-to-end service and affordable financing package. We estimate the solution will generate an annual capacity of more than 934 MWh, which will translate to an equivalent of RM239,000 in cost savings in our utility bills per year. We are pleased to do our part in contributing to the country’s green transformation agenda. As part of our commitment to protect the environment for a better future, we will be implementing the switch to using clean sources of energy for the rest of the companies within the OEL Group.”