ASIA TOTA L S O L A R
A partner of choice in Asiaâ€™s solar market
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in Solar Total Solar is a partner of choice and thought leader in Asia’s vibrant, expanding commercial & industrial (C&I) solar sector, the company being the first oil & gas giant to make serious inroads into this form of renewable power Writer: Tom Wadlow Project Manager: Matthew Cole-Wilkin
Pardon the pun, but solar is a super-hot market here,” muses Gavin Adda, CEO, Industrial & Commercial for Total Solar’s Asia business. Joking aside, Adda is right. According to a report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, Asia-Pacific is poised to install 55 percent of the world’s new solar PV systems over the next five years, increasing its regional capacity by 60 percent by 2023. The large economies of China, India and Japan will account for 78 percent of this increase, but the allure of solar has caught on in many other Asian countries. “We are seeing a snowball effect,” Adda adds. “India, for instance, has gone from $30 million worth of projects annually to over a $1 billion in just a few years, and this enthusiasm for solar has taken off in the likes of the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, among others.”
So how did Adda, an Englishman with an Archaeology & Anthropology Masters from the University of Cambridge, end up in Singapore leading the regional solar business for one of the largest oil & gas companies in the world? “I completed an INSEAD MBA in France and Singapore before getting headhunted to work for Samsung in South Korea,” he recalls. “Samsung was quite an early adopter of solar, and it was here I came across the solar industry, developing around $1 billion of utility-scale projects across the US.
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“It was actually at a dinner with one of the largest utilities in California where I had a discussion about how Southeast Asia will become the world’s most important solar markets – especially for C&I. “You’ve got a lot of island countries, new power requirements from people buying air conditioning and refrigeration for the first time, abundant sunlight, expensive power, bountiful labour and problems with connecting remote areas to grids. This all adds up to a massive opportunity for rooftop-based commercial and industrial solar which can typically save customers 20 percent on energy bills.” After running C&I for REC Solar in Singapore and then selling the company to ChemChina in 2015, Adda founded two startups in the C&I solar space. He brought the team of one of these to Total at the end of 2017.
TOTAL SOLAR – AN INTRODUCTION Total SA and its affiliates are one of the largest investors in C&I Solar with more than $2 billion deployed into C&I Solar projects for companies like Coca-Cola, Intel and Danone. Much of this has been historically in Europe and the US, though Total is increasingly focusing on emerging markets now. As part of the world’s fourth-largest energy major, Total Solar is a leader across the whole photovoltaic solar value chain, from manufacturing through to complex system design to long-term operation. Total also has significant investments in battery technology, energy retailing and energy efficiency. As the energy industry increasingly moves to a distributed model, Total is taking solar directly to industrial and commercial customers and cutting out what can be underdeveloped and problematic grids. There are increasingly opportunities for customers to sell surplus power back to the grid. Total’s history with solar dates back to 1972 when the company set up Total Énergie Développement (TED), which engineered its first solar panels. In 2011 the firm acquired 60 percent of SunPower, a leading producer of solar panels and key supplier to Total Solar projects. In Asia, Total Solar plans to scale up operations through establishing partnerships with local companies and stakeholders. Gavin Adda, CEO, Industrial & Commercial for Total Solar Asia
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Total Solar is determined to become an industry thought leader
Adda runs the business as a fullyowned subsidiary of Total Solar, his startup team receiving the sort of multibillion-dollar enterprise backing that will be vital in ensuring solar is adopted meaningfully in both Asia and around the world. Indeed, Total Solar has several other hubs around the world, making it a truly global organisation and significant part of Total’s business. “We want to become a billion-dollar organisation and we are nearing that with our teams in the US, Middle East, Europe and China,” Adda says. “I am extremely excited by the opportunity… this is a goliath organisation that is now setting its sights on really increasing access to renewable energy at scale.” This desire to be part of the global energy mix shift is evidenced by Total’s own adoption of solar.
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For example, Total is installing solar on 5,000 facilities around the world in a $400 million investment. In Singapore, Total Solar is installing solar on a Total lubricant blending facility in Tuas and developing a visitor centre designed to showcase solar to commercial clients. Singapore is one of four Asian nations where the company currently
has projects under construction, the others being Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia, where two months ago Total Solar signed one of the country’s first C&I solar projects. Adda expects the company to be operating in eight or nine countries in the region within the next year, pointing towards its unique position to provide the full suite of services
SOLAR IN ACTION While Total Solar works with some of the world’s largest brands, Adda points out projects in the Philippines and Indonesia that show a desire to work closely with locally-based clients. “We’re not just chasing big brand names and have been working with local companies across the region,” he says. “For example, in the Philippines, we’re working with Gaisano that operates around shopping malls around the country. “They want to reduce costs, which we’ve been able to do by 20 percent, and be a positive force for good in their local areas, reducing their carbon footprint and potentially generating power for the local schools and other nearby facilities.” In Indonesia, Total Solar has pioneered the development of projects behind the meter. Chandra Asri is the country’s largest petrochemical business and has been looking to reduce its carbon footprint. The project will involve installations at the company’s refineries, and Adda explains how Chandra Asri is looking to set an example in its industry by adapting to cleaner power generation, something which Total Solar will play a key role in facilitating.
Work on new design approaches is ongoing
Total currently has projects under construction in four Asian countries
on a global and regional basis. Most importantly though, Total is a natural partner for local firms and a long-term operator of assets. “We are unique in that we don’t look to just flip our project,” he says. “Total owns assets for decades at a time and solar needs a 20-year contract to make the required return. We are comfortable with these long-term relationships and many of our clients we have already been working with for many years. “This means we build for the longterm unlike some others who are focused on re-selling the projects in the short-term. Total has a unique
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ASIA SolarGy Pte Ltd is one of the leading professional system integrators of solar PV systems based in Singapore. The founder of SolarGy, Albert Lim, has been a practising M&E consulting engineer for more than 25 years. Leveraging on the founder’s background knowledge and experience, SolarGy deliver optimum solutions to clients from a designer’s perspective. The result is a PV system that is not only high in performance but integrates seamlessly into the building architecture. Since its incorporation in 2007, SolarGy has successfully undertaken several notable PV projects for clients such as NTU, NUS, PUB, Resorts World at Sentosa, Keppel Infrastructure Trust, CapitaLand, SingTel, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, NEA, NParks, ST Aerospace, and SP Group.
20 Sin Ming Lane, #04-65 Midview City, Singapore 573968 Tel +65 6570 9001 Fax +65 6570 9002
The company is at the forefront of a seismic shift in power generation Total is installing across the region, and Adda is buoyant solar on 5,000 about the future solar has both here facilities around and across the world. the world in a $400 million investment He concludes: “The future will be solar. There’s a huge appetite for it and approach to HSE and system quality in Southeast Asia, who knew the I think anywhere between 10 and 20 which many customers prefer.” challenges facing us and had a network percent of the power we use will come he could bring into the business. We from solar in the not too distant future. Knowledge transfer also needed someone who could teach “Given we’re sub one percent Total Solar’s ability to form long-term our own internal project managers.” currently, even less so in this region, partnerships and commit to the whole This knowledge transfer exercise that implies a massive growth story lifecycle of solar developments is made ties into the company’s engineering ahead. The future will see much more possible by its team of experts. hub in the Philippines, while continuing of a balanced energy mix, and solar has Adda expects to double the partnerships with local firms will also a huge part to play in that.” headcount on a yearly basis as more help to impart skills more widely across projects are taken on. these emerging solar markets. “Finding the skills we need is a big And it is this element of partnership challenge,” he adds. “When bringing a that will be crucial to realising Adda’s new product to a new market you need ambitions for the year ahead. On to reskill local people, so passing down track to become a regional leader and knowledge is absolutely essential. opening up at least two new markets “It took us a long time to find our during 2019, Total Solar is determined Head of Tech because we wanted to become a trusted partner of choice Total Solar someone with experience of working and thought leader in the industry. www.solar.total.com
331 North Bridge Road #05-07 Odeon Towers Singapore 188720 www.solar.total.com
Total Solar business brochure - Asia Outlook - Issue 38