How DBS is accelerating its transition to renewable energy

The solar energy installation atop DBS Asia Hub consists of some 1,200 solar panels across 30,000 square feet — or around half the size of a football field.

Much of our important work is done behind the scenes. Sometimes, it’s also done on rooftops.

Following months of work, some 1,200 solar panels now span the roof top of DBS Asia Hub, DBS’ business complex located at Singapore’s Changi Business Park.

The solar energy installation, which covers an area of 30,000 square feet or about half the size of a football field, can generate over 460MWh of energy per year; and could be the first of many that DBS sets up in its quest to have its entire Singapore energy consumption come from renewable energy sources.

Last year, DBS became the first Asian Bank and first Singapore company to join the global renewable energy initiative RE100, alongside some of the world’s most influential businesses. One of the requirements of RE100 is for companies to make a public commitment to sourcing 100% renewable energy.

DBS has committed to achieve this by 2030. By the end of this year, DBS is on target to achieve 40% renewable energy for its Singapore operations.

Here are the other steps that DBS is taking to reach its 2030 renewable energy goal.

1. Building more solar energy installations

The solar energy installation at DBS Asia Hub can generate enough energy to power 100 four-room HDB flats for a year.

But it is only the beginning. The bank is currently reviewing its other real estate assets across Asia to assess their suitability for similar installations.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta; Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli; Mike Power, Chief Operating Officer, DBS Technology & Operations; David Gledhill, Group Chief Information Officer & Head, DBS Technology & Operations; and other DBS senior management at the official launch of the solar energy installation at DBS Asia Hub

Renewable energy has shown great growth potential in Singapore. A study by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore has indicated that solar power can contribute up to a quarter of Singapore’s electricity by 2025. Today, solar power makes up some 2% of Singapore’s energy generation, in line with solar’s 1.3% global energy generation share.

Solar power is also taking off globally. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide in 2016. New solar capacity grew by 50% in 2016, with China accounting for almost half of the global expansion. The agency predicts total solar capacity will exceed the combined total power capacities of India and Japan today by 2022.

2. Procuring more renewable energy

Last year alone, DBS acquired 5GWh worth of renewable energy certificates (RECs). These green energy certificates, purchased from solar energy companies in Singapore, ensure that the energy DBS uses are obtained from renewable sources.

DBS plans to become a major procurer of renewable energy over the coming years. The bank’s Chief Operating Officer for Technology and Operations Mike Power, told last year: “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.”

Driving energy efficiencies across the organisation

Initiatives to boost energy efficiency helped the bank reduce its electricity consumption by some 9.6GWh last year — equivalent to the energy consumption of about 2,050 4-room HDB flats. This also saved the bank around S$3.8 million in electricity costs.

Initiatives included replacing lamps with energy-efficient LED lights across all its Singapore retail branches; and using technological advances to transform the data centres in Singapore — thus reducing the power consumed by 50%, while increasing storage and computing capacity by seven times since 2014.

DBS’ Singapore office buildings have also been certified by the Building Construction Authority (BCA) as environmentally friendly.

DBS Asia Hub for instance won the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award, with:

1) Sub-meters to monitor utilities usage

2) Zoning and timer control for lightings to cater for different usage or occupancy needs

3) Zoning of air conditioning and provision of fan coil unit to cater for different usage or occupancy needs

4) Use of lifts with variable voltage frequency motor drive and sleep mode features

5) Motion sensors for lightings, energy-efficient LED lightings

DBS’ commitment to sustainable development

DBS’ renewable energy initiatives are undertaken as part of the bank’s commitment to sustainable development. In addition to its RE100 membership, DBS was one of the first Singapore companies to launch a green bond in 2017. DBS was also the first Singapore bank to be included as an index constituent of the FTSE4Good Global Index, a global sustainability index.

Said DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, “Sustainability has been at the core of DBS’ purpose-driven DNA. From the time of our founding 50 years ago as the Development Bank of Singapore, we have always believed in the importance of good citizenship.

“We are supportive of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have adopted as focus areas four of the SDGs, including climate action.

“As Singapore’s leading bank, we recognise our role in promoting sustainable development, including the transition to a low-carbon economy. We hope that our adoption of renewable energy to power our operations will play a part in catalysing the growth of the renewables sector and encourage more corporates to go green for a sustainable future.”