Singapore-based investment firm eyes powering off-grid South-east Asia

SINGAPORE - A new firm based out of Singapore has set out to build and run clean energy projects across the region.

CleanGrid Partners was unveiled on Tuesday (Jan 22) as a collaboration between Singapore's WEnergy Global, consultancy ICMG Partners and energy company Greenway Grid Global, which is backed by Japanese electricity giant Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco)'s Tepco PowerGrid.

The investment entity has US$60 million (S$81.6 million) in the kitty - with each partner putting up an equal share - with US$20 million earmarked for short-term deployment. It aims to build up a portfolio of electrification projects worth US$100 million within four years, with an exclusive focus on South-east Asia.

WEnergy Global's flagship micro-grid project on the Philippine island of Palawan - which supplies electricity to households and commercial players through hybrid power sources such as solar and diesel - is now part of the joint venture plan, according to a statement given to the press.

CleanGrid Partners plans to replicate its Palawan project in other parts of South-east Asia, and said that several other schemes are already planned for the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar to meet demand for off-grid power. The firm will also target industrial estate projects in Singapore.

WEnergy Global chief executive Atem Ramsundersingh said in a statement that the latest move is a response to the chronic lack of electricity access in parts of the Asean region.

"The near-term solution that delivers on immediate on-the-ground benefits is to build, own and operate smart micro-grids for off-grid electrification, which most multilateral agencies, investment companies and mega power companies are reluctant to embark on," he said.

"Our new partnership will combine WEnergy Global's on-the-ground knowledge and pioneer experience in Asean with the best-of-breed smart technologies that the likes of Tepco-PowerGrid already own."

Mr Gen Funahashi, director of ICMG Partners, added that "investors, development and commercial banks and technology manufacturers worldwide must address the challenge to electrify the one billion people on our planet who have no or little access to electricity", including the 100 million people in South-east Asia.