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10 best green electricity plans Singapore: Solar and carbon-neutral electricity

10 best green electricity plans Singapore: Solar and carbon-neutral electricity
PHOTO: Unsplash

So, it turns out that I picked an electricity retailer way too soon. It turns out that there are actually retailers offering green electricity plans, and I didn't do the research properly before making my choice.

I doubt I'm the only one who wasn't very aware of the green options, because the OEM website itself doesn't display information about solar and carbon neutral electricity in any way.  It's almost exclusively cost-related information on there (you can hardly blame Singaporeans for being  "price-sensitive").

Well, if you find yourself in a position to research the companies before committing, here's what I've learnt about the various environmentally-friendly and sustainable electricity options in Singapore.

1. Green electricity plans in Singapore

No time to read? Here's a quick overview of the various green electricity plans (carbon neutral and solar energy) you can get in Singapore:

Green electricity plans Type Price (per kWh) Contract
Geneco Power Eco Add-On – VCU Carbon Credits Carbon neutral $1 to $4 per month Six to 24 months
Geneco Power Eco Add-On – Renewable Energy Certifications >Carbon neutral $1 to $4 per month Six to 24 months
Senoko LifeGreen24 (RECs) Carbon neutral $0.2923 24 months
Senoko LifeSave12 (RECs) Carbon neutral $0.2920 12 months
Sembcorp Sunshine Plan 100 per cent solar $0.3388 12 months
Sunseap 100 per cent Solar Energy 100 per cent solar $0.4494 Six months
Sunseap one per cent Solar Energy One per cent solar $0.4173 Six months
Keppel Electric ecoGreen12 Carbon neutral $0.3488 12 months
Keppel Electric ecoGreen24 Carbon neutral $0.3488 24 months
Pacific Light Sunny Side-Up (max. 25 RECs) Carbon neutral $0.2980 12 months

Note: SP's electricity rate is $0.3017/kWh for July to September 2022.

2. What exactly is “green electricity” in Singapore context?

Before you get swayed by any greenwashing, it's essential to understand a bit of the basics.

Electricity is usually generated by burning fossil fuels (i.e. oil and gas). This process produces all kinds of awful pollutants and greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide, which is widely regarded as the culprit of global warming. Also, fossil fuels are non-renewable natural resources, meaning that at some point in the future, they will be completely depleted.

Green electricity is a catch-all phrase to describe the less-terrible alternatives. But it actually comes in two forms in Singapore: clean (usually solar) energy and carbon neutral electricity.

In its strictest form, green electricity = clean energy, which is electricity generated using renewable, non-polluting resources such as sunlight or wind. Think solar panels.

But in Singapore's electricity market, many "green electricity" options actually refer to carbon neutral electricity instead.

Carbon neutral electricity is basically your normal electricity (fossil fuel and all), except the retailer also helps you buy a bunch of carbon offset credits. These credits go to companies/businesses with activities that reduce carbon emissions. So it's kind of like… hurting someone's feelings, then being extra nice to them to make up for it.

At first glance, it seems like choosing clean electricity (e.g. solar energy) is a better option if you're environmentally-conscious.

But since electricity is delivered through the common SP Group's electricity grid, there's no way to tell if you are actually using the solar-powered electricity you paid for. (Whereas in rural places, people can install their own solar roofs and personally use the energy harvested from there.)

So, ultimately, it's a symbolic choice. By choosing one of these green plans, you're telling retailers that you care about the environment and you're willing to pay a premium, which indirectly creates demand for more emission-reducing activities around the world.

3. Which electricity retailers in Singapore offer green plans?

Electricity retailer Solar electricity? Carbon neutral?
Diamond Electric
Geneco ✔️(For Businesses) ✔️ (Add-ons)
Keppel Electric ✔️
Pacific Light Energy ✔️
Sembcorp Power ✔️(Sunshine Plan) ❓(all plans include RECs)
Senoko Energy Supply ✔️(LifeGreen24)
Sunseap Energy ✔️(Sunseap-100)
Tuas Power Supply
Union Power

There are six retailers offering green (to varying degrees) electricity options on the market: Geneco, Keppel Electric, Pacific Light Energy, Sembcorp, Senoko, and Sunseap. But not all green electricity retailers and plans are built the same way, so it’s difficult for consumers to make an informed decision. I’ll do my best to cover the nuances of each retailer and its offerings below.

Geneco – Power eco add-ons

Electricity retailer plan Price per kWh Contract
Geneco Power Eco Add-On – Carbon Credits $0.0025 to $0.01 (before GST) Six to 24 months
Geneco Power Eco Add-On – Renewable Energy Certifications $0.0025 to $0.01 (before GST) Six to 24 months

Geneco is one of the more popular electricity retailers in Singapore, and it used to have two types of green electricity plans: Get It Green and Get Sunny back in 2019. However, these carbon neutral and solar-powered electricity plans have since been phased out. Replacing them are ala carte add-ons that existing Geneco customers can purchase.

When you purchase the Geneco Power Eco Add-On (Carbon Credits), you’re basically giving Geneco a few dollars per month to ask them to help you offset your carbon footprint. Using the few dollars you give them, Geneco will buy carbon credits to fund sustainability projects such as forestry, “updating power plants and factories, or increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation.”

The other add-on, Renewable Energy Certifications, where your dollars and cents will be used to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – literally certificates that confirm the electricity you used came from a renewable source. RECs are also often traded like stocks where people profit from the buy-sell price differences.

Bottom line: Geneco used to have one of the cheapest carbon neutral electricity plan in Singapore alongside a fixed rate solar plan. However, Geneco’s green offerings have since been sidelined to symbolic add-on features.

Sembcorp Power – Sunshine Plan

Electricity retailer plan Price per kWh Contract
Sembcorp Sunshine Plan $0.3388 12 months

Sembcorp Power labels all of their electricity plans as “greener”, which sounds like feel-good advertising-speak to me.

VP (Retail) at Sembcorp Power Mr Lim Han Kwang explained in 2019 that by “greener” they meant “we retire 50kWh worth of renewable energy certificates (RECs) every month on your behalf.” That’s only a fraction of the typical household usage, so for the purposes of this article I will not compare it.

All other plans aside, Sembcorp offers a very straightforward Sunshine Plan which is a metered 100 per cent solar energy electricity plan. While the plan doesn’t offer you any savings compared to your SP bill, you will enjoy a complimentary 12 month home insurance with this plan.

Bottom line: A 100 per cent solar and 100 per cent carbon neutral plan is available at $0.3388/kWh (including GST), which is more expensive than SP’s current $0.2990/kWh.

Senoko – LifeGreen24

Electricity retailer plan Price per kWh Contract
Senoko LifeGreen24 $0.2723 24 months
Senoko LifePower12 $0.2700 24 months
Senoko LifePower24 $0.2680 24 months

Senoko offers a straightforward 100% solar energy plan that’s carbon neutral. It comes with no transmission loss charges, which eliminates hidden costs for individuals who prefer fuss-free plans.

The rate is currently at $0.2723 – slightly lower than SP’s current rates of $0.2990/kWh but you’ll be contracted to this price for a whooping 24 months.

Sunseap – Sunseap-100 (100 per cent solar)

Electricity retailer plan Price per kWh Contract
Sunseap-100 $0.4494 Six months
Sunseap 1 per cent Solar Energy $0.4173 Six months

Sunseap is the only electricity retailer on this list that’s fully focused on solar energy, so if you’d like to support a company that’s doing work in the clean energy field, this is probably your best bet.

Like Geneco, Sunseap has very clear FAQs on how exactly their solar electricity plans work, so that’s quite reassuring at least. To Sunseap’s credit, they also make the value proposition of choosing a solar plan pretty clear:

“When you sign up for any of our solar energy plans, every kWh of solar energy you consume will help displace a kWh of electricity needed from the traditional power generator, up to the amount of solar energy component in the plan you signed up for. This reduces our carbon footprint.”

“For instance, if you are on our SUNSEAP-100 plan and your monthly electricity usage is around 450kWh, you will essentially be reducing about 450kWh of electricity per month generated from the traditional power generator, thus contributing to reducing our country’s carbon footprint.”

Price-wise, it’s naturally more expensive to be signing up for a 100 per cent solar plan, but if you are living in a relatively small home I think the price difference is not that huge, probably a few dollars more a month.

Bottom line: Sunseap offers a 100 per cent solar plan at $0.4494/kWh – also the most expensive when compared to the other carbon neutral and solar electricity plans, Senoko’s LifeGreen24 and Sembcorp’s Sunshine Plan. Sunseap, however, has been fully invested in their solar energy efforts from the get-go, and is also the clearest in explaining how their solar plans work.

Conclusion: Which green electricity plan is best?

To recap,

There are two types of “green” electricity plans in Singapore: carbon neutral and solar energy. The former involves bundling carbon offset credits with your electricity plan, while the latter typically represents an investment into developing and implementing solar energy systems.

In my opinion, choosing a solar energy plan probably has a bigger impact on the environment, especially if the retailer is funnelling the proceeds directly into their own clean energy business. But it is more expensive.

If you’re OK with somewhat carbon neutral electricity and are focusing only on price, Geneco offers carbon credits and Renewable Energy Certificate add-ons to their usual plans.

There are only three 100 per cent solar electricity plans in Singapore: Senoko LifeGreen24, Sembcrop Sunshine Plan, and Sunseap-100.

Senoko’s LifeGreen24 is the cheapest on the market right now at $0.723/kWh.

Make no mistake though – solar is usually significantly more expensive than a regular electricity plan.

What can you do if you didn’t choose a green plan?

But I do realise that choosing the “right” electricity retailer isn’t the be-all and end-all. In fact, the whole idea of carbon offsets has been criticised as being ineffective at dealing with the root of the problem, which is overconsumption of energy.

If you care about the environment, you can still do your part by reducing your electricity (and overall energy) consumption – which, incidentally, helps you save money too, so it’s a win-win.

Other things you can do are to purchase your own carbon offset credits if it helps you sleep at night. These will soon to be available to residential consumers via SP‘s fancy new “digital marketplace”.

Alternatively, you could also invest in a company that is innovating in the clean energy field, rather than investing purely based on financial gain. Crazy, I know. Just putting it out there.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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