In sunny, equatorial Singapore, solar energy is the most promising source of clean energy – and businesses are looking upwards.

“In recent years, there have been more and more customers – in particular, smaller small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – who are keen on adopting solar energy,” says Mr Albert Lim, founder and managing director of SolarGy.

SolarGy is a Singapore-headquartered solar technologies and solutions provider that has completed a slew of notable projects for clients such as Jewel Changi Airport, Resort World Sentosa and the National Gallery Singapore.

It is one of the partners of UOB’s solar financing programme U-Solar, which connects Asean businesses and homeowners with its solar company partners to help them transition to green energy and switch to solar power. 

Mr Lim shares that SMEs face a range of challenges in their clean energy journey. “Most of the time, they simply weren’t sure where to begin. Many also had technical concerns such as how it would affect their operations, and whether installing solar panels would affect their buildings’ waterproofing warranty, and so on.” 

According to UOB’s SME Outlook Study 2022, 43 per cent of SMEs cited insufficient knowledge as a major barrier to implementing sustainable practices such as a solar photovoltaic (PV) system – a set of electrical components that converts sunlight into electricity.

Other challenges include inadequate non-financial support such as training (39 per cent), and short-term impact on revenue (37 per cent). 

Conducted from December last year to January, the study surveyed 800 local SMEs with revenue of less than $100 million to understand the business outlook and key expectations among SMEs in Singapore.

“To an SME, adopting solar energy is also an extremely heavy investment, and they would want to be more prudent with the decision,” Mr Lim says. 

This is where the U-Solar programme bridges the gap. First launched in Malaysia in October 2019, U-Solar is now available in Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. 

It is designed to help businesses and homeowners convert to clean energy at low to zero upfront costs. The programme’s solar partners will manage the installation process from start to finish, and provide maintenance at no added cost.