Earlier this week, Singapore’s state investor Temasek and international investment firm Vickers Venture Partners invested USD 40 million in Canadian geothermal company Eavor Technologies. Bp Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BDC Capital also participated in the round.
Eavor is developing a system called Eavor-Loop, which uses Earth’s natural heat like a gigantic rechargeable battery. The firm claims its technology is a scalable “go anywhere” solution. The draw is that geothermal heat is harvested to generate dispatchable power with zero emissions.
Unleashing this new technology could be a watershed moment for the company. “Eavor, on its own, has been working to develop Eavor-Loop projects in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australia. We are advancing in these regions, including directly in Singapore, and with Temasek and Vickers Venture Partners supporting our efforts, we feel Southeast Asia will become one of our more active areas for future high-quality Eavor-Loop deal flow,” Eavor president and CEO John Redfern said to KrASIA.
With climate change as an existential problem that requires a basket of solutions targeting nearly every facet of how humans live, Temasek has been seeking investment opportunities in clean technology. In 2020, it partnered with Swedish global investment EQT Partners to launch O2 Power, a USD 500 million renewable energy platform in India. It also led the USD 84 million investment for American energy company Commonwealth Fusion Systems last year.
Temasek’s track record and outlook have an allure for startups that build new tech to save or preserve our environment. “Here at Eavor, we strive to locate and develop projects in the region based on several factors—economic and environmental impact, the scale of opportunity, and time to deployment, among many others. There is an abundance of high-quality locations combined with high-quality partners in Southeast Asia,” Redfern said.
Singapore’s green light for green innovation
A cosmopolitan city with limited natural resources, Singapore actively fosters sustainable innovation. On February 10, the city-state’s government launched a whole-of-nation sustainable development agenda: Green Plan 2030 has clearly defined targets, like planting 1 million trees and producing 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally within the decade. Another objective is to promote homegrown innovation under the Research and Innovation & Enterprise Plan 2025, and attract companies to anchor their R&D activities in Singapore to devise new solutions for a tenable human existence.
“The ambitious goals set through the Green Plan 2030 are exactly what’s needed to drive innovation into sustainable technologies. A policy-driven green agenda will create markets and demand to match the supply side that innovators are already building solutions for,” said Simon Baldwin, director of The Incubation Network (TIN), a collaborative agency designed to tackle complex global problems, especially those related to waste and pollution. Baldwin believes that Singapore plays an important role in driving and leading sustainable, green technology in Southeast Asia.
“Southeast Asia is an incredibly diverse but interconnected region. To make the right type of impact, sustainable technologies must be built for regional viability. Singapore is best placed to lead this as both a landing and launching pad for innovation. And this is part of the reason why we made the strategic decision to set up TIN’s hub in Singapore,” Baldwin said.
Singapore is also a home to a batch of green tech startups, such as solar energy solution provider Sunseap; biotech startup RWDC, which is attempting to stem the overflow of single-use plastics; and SensorFlow, which has set out to improve energy efficiency in hotels.
For regional investors, green is in. Investment in Singapore’s cleantech companies has grown from USD 5.5 million in 2015 to USD 170.9 million in 2020, as reported by Tech in Asia. Various government agencies and corporates now provide support through incubators and accelerator programs, such as the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore’s Cleantech Incubator, the Shell Startup Engine, and The Incubation Network’s Waste 20/20 program.
In December, Temasek launched the Sustaintech Xcelerator in partnership with DBS, Google, and the National University of Singapore’s Center for Nature-based Climate Solutions. The core idea is to identify climate innovators who are developing solutions that buoy investor and buyer confidence in natural solutions.
“As a landing pad, Singapore is a fantastic sandbox to drive new innovations by bringing in new talents while fostering existing entrepreneurs too. And as a launchpad, it has one of the most conducive business environments to incubate and then accelerate regional activity,” said Baldwin. The new Green Plan and its bold purpose support entrepreneurs who are finding new ways to address the global impact of climate change, and give hope to Singaporeans who seek a secure a sustainable future.