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DBS accelerates transition to renewable energy, targets 40% energy use from renewables by end-2018

DBS Group Holdings unveiled its solar energy installation at DBS Asia Hub on Thursday as it accelerates the transition to using renewable energy.

It said that 40 per cent of the bank's energy consumption in Singapore will come from renewable energy sources by end-2018. Last year, DBS pledged to use 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

In September 2017, DBS was the first Asian bank and Singapore company to join global renewable energy initiative RE100.

RE100 is a global renewable energy campaign led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP that brings together global companies which pledge to use 100 per cent renewable energy by a certain date.

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Earlier this month, tech giant Apple said its global operations are now 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity.

To meet its target, DBS is engaged in three major initiatives: operating its own solar energy installation, procuring renewable energy, and driving energy efficiencies across its organisation.

In addition to solar panels, DBS will be buying renewable energy certificates (REC), said Mike Power, DBS chief operating officer, technology and operations.

RECs are a means to certify and confirm that the energy DBS buys and uses is from renewable energy sources.

REC providers include Keppel and BBR Greentech.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli was Guest-of-Honour at the launch of the solar energy installation at DBS Asia Hub, the bank's premises in Changi Business Park.

Mr Masagos said as a coastal city, Singapore is vulnerable to climate change which is causing sea levels to rise.

For us, it is an "existential issue", he said.

Two years ago, Singapore ratified the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. It pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

He said encouraging solar energy adoption is a key part of Singapore's suite of mitigation measures.

DBS's solar energy installation consists of some 1,200 solar panels across 30,000 square feet - or around half the size of a football field.

The energy that is generated each year - over 460 MWh - will help offset DBS Asia Hub's power consumption.

DBS is also reviewing its real estate assets across the region to assess their suitability for future solar energy installations.

To drive energy efficiencies, the bank has replaced lamps with energy-efficient LED lights across all its Singapore retail branches. [1]

In addition, DBS has reduced the power consumed by its Singapore data centres by 50 per cent, while increasing storage and computing capacity by seven times since 2014, by transforming its traditional data centres through technological advances. These initiatives have helped the bank reduce electricity consumption by some 9.6 GWh and achieve cost savings of S$3.8 million in 2017, compared to 2016.

Supplementing these initiatives are DBS's plans to become a major procurer of renewable energy[2], which will help the bank transition to 40 per cent renewable energy consumption. The latter is equivalent to some 14 GWh per year - enough to power more than 3,000 four-room HDB households for a year.[3]

Said DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta: "Sustainability has been at the core of DBS's 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.

"Today, that extends to creating social impact by giving back to the community through the bank and DBS Foundation, and doing our part for the environment. 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."

Mr Gupta said he hopes that the bank's adoption of renewable energy to power its operations will play a part in catalysing the growth of the renewables sector and encourage more corporates to go green for a sustainable future.