DBS Bank Ltd has joined RE100 with a commitment to 100% renewable power and an interim goal of transferring its Singapore operations to 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Here, Mike Power, Chief Operating Officer for Technology and Operations, DBS Bank, and co-chair of the bank’s Sustainability Council, shares the company’s motivations.
Why is DBS Bank going 100% renewable?
“Climate change is among the most pressing challenges of our time, and one that needs to be tackled urgently if we are to preserve the habitability of our planet. As a bank focused on ensuring sustainable development across Asia, we believe it is imperative that we contribute towards the fight against global warming by examining and reducing our own environmental footprint.
“We recognize that successfully transitioning to renewable energy will not only allow us to reduce our carbon emissions, but will also make business sense by offering us a hedge against fuel price risk. In addition, being Asia’s first bank to sign up to RE100, we hope our commitment will encourage other banks in the region to focus on renewables and environmental sustainability.”
How did you decide on your 100% goal?
“Committing to 100% renewable power globally is very much in line with two of the four UN Sustainable Development Goals that the bank has adopted in line with our overall sustainability strategy. These goals are SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13: Climate Action.
“Our intention is to first focus on our operations in Singapore, which account for 65% of our global operations. We aim to achieve 100% renewable power in Singapore by 2030 and we’re currently on track to achieve more than 60% by 2020. In addition, we plan to work with the RE100 Technical Advisory Group as well as learn from other RE100 members to draw up similar renewable energy roadmaps for our other core Asian markets.”
What have you achieved so far?
“We started our renewable energy journey in early 2017, and finalized our renewables roadmap for Singapore in August. We plan to implement the roadmap over the next few months, as well as start working on similar roadmaps for our other markets.
“That said, we have made significant strides in terms of energy efficiency over the past few years. All our major office premises are BCA Green Mark certified, with our two main building premises having received the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest accolade possible. BCA Green Mark can be described as the tropics’ answer to the US-based LEED certification. In addition, DBS was among the first banks in Singapore to achieve the BCA Green Mark for Retail certification for its branches. 20 branches have been certified to date, with another 20 branches expected to receive the certification by the end of this year.”
What plans do you have to switch to renewable electricity in future?
“In line with our Singapore renewables roadmap, we are planning to install rooftop solar panels at our premises at Changi Business Park, Singapore. In addition, we recently signed an agreement to procure renewable energy certificates (RECs) from two solar energy generation companies in Singapore. Through these initiatives, we aim to achieve 12% renewable energy for our Singapore operations by the end of 2017 and we have a target to scale that up to 50% by the end of 2018. In the long run, as the market in Singapore matures, we may consider entering into a power purchase agreement with a renewable energy supplier in Singapore.”
What challenges and opportunities are you experiencing?
“One of the biggest challenges of going renewable in Singapore is that solar seems to be the only viable renewable energy alternative available, given the lack of hydro resources, low wind speeds, low mean tidal ranges and lack of economic viability for geothermal energy. In addition, given the scarcity of land, there will eventually be a limit to the amount of installed solar capacity and the resultant supply of RECs. That said, the government is supportive of growing the renewables sector and solar companies are experimenting with floating solar installations in reservoirs and in the Johor straits to expand capacity.
“In terms of our regional operations, which include other countries in Asia as well as the US and the UK, we consider key challenges to be inconsistent policy frameworks and the lack of a mature renewables market in some regions. We look forward to learning more about the renewables sectors in these countries through RE100 knowledge sharing sessions with energy experts as well as other RE100 members that operate in those markets.”
Why do you think it is important for companies to help increase demand for renewable energy?
“Global warming and climate change are undoubtedly among the biggest global challenges that need urgent solutions to ensure future sustainability. It is vital that companies around the world start embracing a sense of environmental stewardship, especially given that businesses account for around half of the world’s electricity consumption. By transitioning to renewable energy options, companies will be able to help their respective governments achieve national emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, and thus help stem global temperature increases.”
Why is RE100 an important initiative to join?
“Joining RE100 showcases our commitment to sustainable development, the growth of renewables and the transition to a low carbon economy. It also gives us the opportunity to join knowledge sharing webinars that will increase our understanding of different market options. We also intend to participate in events that will allow us to share our insights with other companies in Asia interested in embarking on a similar journey.”
What else are you doing to drive a net-zero emissions economy?
“In addition to adding renewables to our energy mix, we have also focused on incorporating sustainable designs and practices in our offices and branches to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
“We have also undertaken initiatives to influence the carbon footprint of our customers and suppliers. Our responsible lending policies have been enhanced to ensure that material ESG issues are considered for all new lending relationships, new credit applications and periodic reviews. We were the sole book runner for the first Green Bond issued in Singapore in April this year, which raised SGD$100 million (US$74 million). We subsequently issued our own Green Bond, raising SGD$675million (US$500 million),the proceeds of which will be allocated towards the financing of green projects or assets described in the DBS Green Bond Framework. We continue to finance renewable energy companies in Singapore to aid in the growth of the domestic renewables sector.
“Lastly, we were the first Asian bank to partner with DHL Express to ensure all our shipments are carbon neutral, by offsetting our carbon emissions through reinvestment in climate protection projects.”