Zooming in on sustainability

Start-up Positive Energy gives a boost to developers with trouble funding projects on renewable energy, by matching them with investors.

The projects listed on Positive Energy's platform tend to be smaller - below US$50 million (S$68 million) - and developers often find it difficult to produce paperwork that traditional banks may require, said co-founder and chief financial officer Vincent Bakker.

Technology can lower the barriers for smaller green projects, he noted.

Tech companies like his, which help develop green projects, are being given the spotlight at next week's Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology, at which sustainability financing is a theme.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh at the National University of Singapore Business School said the green financing movement is picking up pace globally, including in Singapore, but cautioned: "Technology lowers the cost for smaller companies to get financing, but checks must be in place to make sure the projects are legitimate."

The Business Times said yesterday that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is looking to put out guidelines on environmental risk management for the financial sector next week.

Banks here have led the charge on sustainability financing.

News outlet Eco-Business reported this month that OCBC Bank has dropped out of the last coal financing project it was involved in.

It was previously part of the 1,200-megawatt Vung Ang 2 coal-fired power station in Vietnam.

The same report noted that DBS Bank continues to be part of the project.

A DBS spokesman said the bank's approach "is to look for a balance between sometimes competing requirements and competing generational needs".

"Our coal policy recognises the absolute need to keep to our carbon cap, our planetary boundaries, but it also recognises this need for balance. Countries in South-east Asia have significant energy needs over the coming decades," he added.

He also noted that the bank provided sustainability financing of more than $2.4 billion last year. "Our coal policy, announced earlier this year, commits us to stop any new coal-fired plant financing after our current commitments to customers are completed (by 2021)," he said.

Aw Cheng Wei