Sembcorp Floating Solar farm
Being chosen as the lead risk insurer for Singapore’s largest floating solar farm is great acknowledgment of QBE’s standing in the region as an expert engineering insurer. The approach taken by the Singapore team to better understand the customer’s exposure and risks specific to renewable energy is testament to QBE’s strong desire to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer at every step of the way, matching insights with expertise to become a trusted partner of choice.
Background: Renewable energy in Singapore
Solar energy is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy source, but locating large-scale traditional solar facilities is challenging due to the country’s dense urban landscape and limited land availability.
The solution lies in the abundance of waterbodies that typify the Singaporean landscape, with Sembcorp (a leading energy and urban solutions provider headquartered in Singapore) winning the national water agency PUB’s tender to build a floating solar farm. Using the country’s large reservoir surface area to serve the dual purpose of water catchment and electricity generation, Tengeh Reservoir’s large-scale floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system is a first of its kind in the region, positioning Singapore as one of the few countries in the world to integrate green technology with water treatment.
Opportunity: Floating solar facilities
With an area of about 45 football fields, the Sembcorp floating solar farm located at Tengeh Reservoir on the west coast of Singapore, is one of the world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems. Floating solar farms were found to be more efficient than conventional rooftop solar farms due to the cooler reservoir environment. The completion of the facility can help reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and help build Singapore’s climate resilience for a more sustainable future.
With considerable experience in renewable energy and a clear sustainability agenda including a strong desire to support projects that build resilient communities, QBE Singapore was interested to learn more.
As QBE Chief Underwriting Officer for Asia, Andy White says, “At QBE, we have a firm commitment to integrate sustainability into the way we do business. This goes beyond how we run our operations to who we choose to partner with. We are always looking to identify new opportunities to work with our customers, partners and communities to address key economic, social and environmental issues. So, when we heard of the innovative approach Sembcorp and Singapore’s national water agency, PUB were taking to generate renewable energy in Singapore, we wanted to be part of the solution.”
The project is well aligned to our goal to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes providing affordable and clean energy to communities (SDG 7), innovating and providing sustainable infrastructure (SDG 9) and tackling climate change (SDG 13). All this is done through our broker partnership to help achieve our sustainability objectives (SDG 17).
QBE Asia CEO Jason Hammond elaborates, “We continue to understand the evolving needs of our customers as they navigate environmental and social challenges. It has been great to be involved in the development of new technology and innovation to mitigate climate risk and we will continue to support our customers as they transition to alternative energy sources such as solar. Our risk management expertise enables the scaling of these solutions as we work through to achieve a more sustainable future.”
Understanding the risk
Given our experience in renewable energies like solar, wind and energy storage systems, and having already worked on similar projects in Singapore, Korea and Vietnam, we had a good base to conduct due diligence.
But building any plant at this scale presents some obvious risks. The fact that the Sembcorp project also incorporated novel technology in floating solar PV design and construction meant there were a number of unknowns that also needed to be considered.
Brendan Dunlea, Regional Property and Engineering Manager for QBE Asia explains, “As part of the negotiations, we agreed to undertake a number of risk assessments during the construction, so that we could learn more about the risk and provide ongoing recommendations. As a result, we were also able to connect the client with other experts in the industry – such as a leading provider of lightning and surge protection technology.”
Seeking to complement our considerable practical experience, the QBE Singapore team has been hard at work learning more about renewable energy. Mandy Chan, QBE Senior Underwriter, Construction and Engineering, is studying Renewable Energy Systems part-time at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, with the broader team also completing a Harvard course in ‘Energy within Environmental Constraints’ over the past 12 months.
As Singapore CEO Ronak Shah summarises, “We’re fortunate to have a wealth of expertise insuring engineering works at QBE, particularly here in Singapore. That said, we’re seeing new technologies emerging all the time. With the Sembcorp technology for example there were a number of environmental factors such as wind speed, solar irradiation and ambient temperature that could potentially impact the project. Potential risks included overheating and fire hazard. It was only through deeper research, to build further insights in renewable energy technologies that we were able to understand our customer’s challenges here. It’s that matching of experience with insights that’s essential for our, and our customers’, success.”
Photo credit: Sembcorp Industries
What helped seal the deal?
QBE has held a longstanding role in the energy sector, insuring customers that support global energy markets. The Sembcorp project is another example of how we’re continuing to support our customers in their transition to a low-carbon economy and manage the risks associated with climate change. As our customers take on new initiatives and transform their own operations to combat climate change, we are with them along the way.
- Renewable energy expertise, the team has technical knowledge and experience in renewable energy having previously worked on similar projects in Singapore, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam; as well as Europe and the Americas for over 15 years.
- Meticulous preparation,bringing together insights and industry expertise to deliver a quality, integrated product.
- Strong global presence, having had operations in Singapore for 130 years, QBE has built a good reputation in the market and is well recognised as a premium brand.
- Industry connection, QBE Singapore’s engineering team is highly regarded by brokers and insurers in the market and plays a leading role in the local industry – Brendan Dunlea is the Chairman of Engineering Group in GIA (General Insurance of Association, Singapore) and the representative of IMIA (International Association of Engineering Insurers, Asia). Young Jun Lee has been involved with IMIA working groups for Energy Storage Systems (ESS).
- Thought-leader in the industry – QBE has been active in co-hosting a number of webinars for brokers, local insurers and engineering surveyors which have provided value to participants and helped cement our position as an expert in engineering risk mitigation and renewable energy.