Want home solar panels? Here's help from OCBC

Each owner of landed home can borrow up to $30,000, as part of bank's green push

Each homeowner can borrow up to S$30,000 with a tenure of between one and five years. PHOTO: HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT BOARD

OCBC Bank has launched a consumer loan for landed property home owners looking to install solar panels, joining other green-related loan offerings available amid a broader push towards sustainability.

With it, owners will have a term-financing option for installing solar panels that defrays upfront costs, OCBC said yesterday.

Each home owner can borrow up to $30,000, with a tenure of between one and five years to allow for greater flexibility on the repayment period, it added.

The loan is part of the bank's efforts to help Singapore achieve net-zero emissions by the second half of the century and quadruple solar energy production by 2025.

OCBC in June last year set a new goal of $25 billion for its sustainable finance portfolio by 2025, after surpassing its initial $10 billion target in the first quarter - two years ahead of schedule.

In partnership with OCBC, Sembcorp Power will provide on-site installation assessment to home owners through its appointed partners. The consultation costs will be borne by Sembcorp Power, but home owners will be responsible for the installation costs, which could range between $20,000 and $60,000, as well as maintenance costs.

With solar photovoltaics (PV), home owners can expect to save on average more than 20 per cent of their household electricity bill, compared with SP-regulated tariffs, when they sign up for a power plan with Sembcorp Power.

According to Sembcorp Power, a landed property home owner who typically uses 2,000 kilowatt hour (kwh) per month can expect to save $60,000 in total energy costs over a period of 25 years, with a 1,200kwh per month solar PV system installed.

Home owners will still need to sign up for a power plan because solar energy can be tapped only during the day, and they will need to draw on the national grid at night or if insufficient solar energy is generated. Households with excess power generated by their solar panels can opt to sell it back to the national grid.

Singapore has seen residential solar installations jump more than 30 times over the past decade, and aims to generate 1.5 gigawatt-peak of solar energy by 2025, meeting about 2 per cent of Singapore's total electricity needs.

Mr Sunny Quek, OCBC's head of consumer financial services Singapore, said: "Offering this retail loan for solar panels is one key way to improve the accessibility of a green and sustainable energy source to Singapore's landed property home owners. This is the first but important step in getting people to relook the way they view electricity."

Sembcorp Energy Singapore head of consumer business Valerie Lee said the partnership with OCBC is a timely move to bring affordable clean energy to more consumers.

UOB also offers solutions on switching to solar power. Under its U-Solar programme, home owners can choose from installation, operations and after-sales service packages for solar power systems provided by SolarGy, SolarPVExchange and Sunseap Group. To help with the costs of installing and maintaining the system, home owners can opt for a zero per cent interest instalment plan of up to 36 months.

Green-related improvements, such as the installation of solar panels, are also included in DBS' construction loans for private properties, The Straits Times understands.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2021, with the headline Want home solar panels? Here's help from OCBC. Subscribe