Choosing a Green Electricity Plan in Singapore – What are Your Options?
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 official OEM website itself doesn’t display information about green 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 green electricity options in Singapore.
- TL;DR: Comparison of green electricity plans
- What exactly is “green electricity”?
- Which electricity retailers offer green plans?
- iSwitch – Chope the Rate
- Geneco – Get It Green & Get Sunny
- Sunseap – Sunseap-50 & Sunseap-100
- Sembcorp Power – Sunshine Plan
- Conclusion: Which green electricity plan should you choose?
- What can you do if you’ve already chosen another plan?
TL;DR: Comparison of green electricity plans
No time to read? Here’s a quick overview of the various “green” (carbon neutral & solar energy) electricity plans you can get in Singapore, ranked by price as of 10 Jun 2019:
|Electricity retailer plan||Type of plan||Price per kWh||Contract|
|iSwitch Chope the Rate||Carbon neutral||17.69¢ to 17.87¢ ($5.297 monthly fee may apply)||12 to 36 months|
|iSwitch Super Saver||Carbon neutral||22.8% to 23% off tariff = now 18.83¢ to 18.78¢ ($5.297 monthly fee may apply)||12 to 24 months|
|Geneco Get It Green||Carbon neutral||19.26¢||12 months|
|Sunseap-50||50% solar||21.61¢ OR 15% off tariff = now 20.73¢||24 months|
|Sembcorp Sunshine Plan||Semi-solar||21.40¢ (7am to 7pm) / 18.65¢ (7pm to 7am)||12 months|
|Sunseap-100||100% solar||23.01¢ OR 10% off tariff = now 21.95¢||24 months|
|Geneco Get Sunny||100% solar||22.88¢||18 months|
Note: The EMA-regulated electricity tariff (i.e. what SP charges) is 24.39¢ per kWh for Q2 2019.
I didn’t include every single plan in this comparison. For example, I left out Sunseap’s Solar-One because it’s only 1% solar energy. I also didn’t include the other Sembcorp Power plans although they include carbon offset credits, but I’ll talk about them in the section below.
Note: ES Power, which used to offer one of the most competitive green electricity plans in Singapore, has now merged with iSwitch.
What exactly is “green electricity” in the 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 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.
Which electricity retailers in Singapore offer green plans?
|Electricity retailer||Solar electricity?||Carbon neutral?|
|Geneco||✔️(Get Sunny)||✔️ (Get It Green)|
|iSwitch||❌||✔️ (all plans)|
|Pacific Light Energy||❌||❌|
|Sembcorp Power||✔️(Sunshine Plan)||❓(all plans are “greener”)|
|Senoko Energy Supply||❌||❌|
|Sunseap Energy||✔️(Sunseap-50 & Sunseap-100)||❌|
|Tuas Power Supply||❌||❌|
There are 4 retailers offering green (to varying degrees) electricity options on the market: iSwitch, Sembcorp, Geneco and Sunseap. (Previously there was ES Power too, but they’ve now merged with iSwitch.)
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.
iSwitch – Chope the Rate & Super Saver Discount (carbon neutral)
|Electricity retailer plan||Price per kWh||Contract|
|iSwitch Chope the Rate||17.69¢||12 months|
|iSwitch Chope the Rate||17.76¢ (+ $5.297 monthly fee)||24 months|
|iSwitch Chope the Rate||17.87¢ (+ $5.297 monthly fee)||36 months|
|iSwitch Super Saver Discount||23% off tariff = now 18.78¢ (+ $5.297 monthly fee)||24 months|
|iSwitch Super Saver Discount Exclusive||22.8% off tariff = now 18.83¢||12 months|
If you’re looking purely at price, electricity newbie iSwitch easily tops all the other green electricity retailers. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest retailers in Singapore, period.
For green electricity, I’d consider anything under 20¢ per kWh to be affordable, and iSwitch surpasses even that benchmark, with some plans as cheap as 17.69¢ per kWh.
That said, some of their plans do come with $5+ monthly service fees, which will definitely increase the price of your electricity bills.
Although all of iSwitch plan factsheets state “Green Certified Electricity at no additional cost” under the Free Gifts section, they don’t explain what exactly this means in either the factsheet, FAQ, or T&Cs.
I’m a little wary because the term they usually use is “Green” (as in “Green Certified”, “100% Green”, etc.) but according to this article on their site, the electricity is indeed carbon neutral:
“iSwitch will estimate the carbon emission impact you are responsible for. We will then obtain carbon credits that are generated and issued by United Nation certified projects equivalent to your household energy use.”
“These credits will allow your household to offset your use of electricity to become carbon neutral, helping you do your part for the environment. iSwitch will retire the carbon credits with UN generated serial numbers relating to your specific project.”
Bottom line: iSwitch has the cheapest carbon neutral electricity in Singapore, but information on how this is achieved is rather lacking.
Geneco – Get It Green (carbon neutral) & Get Sunny (solar)
|Electricity retailer plan||Price per kWh||Contract|
|Geneco Get It Green (carbon neutral)||19.26¢||12 months|
|Geneco Get Sunny (100% solar)||22.88¢||18 months|
Geneco’s executive VP of Retail, Mr Low Boon Tong, explains: “Both plans are based on a fixed rate per kWh of electricity consumed during the contract duration, but each has a different green element added to the contract.”
“For the 100% carbon-neutral plan, Get It Green, Verified Carbon Units will be retired on the customer’s behalf. On the other hand, for the 100% renewable energy plan, Get Sunny, Renewable Energy Certificates will be retired on the customer’s behalf.”
That’s right – either way, your electricity is still generated the conventional way, but there are different types of credits bundled into the plans.
First up, Geneco’s Get It Green is a really affordable (less than 20¢ per kWh) carbon neutral electricity plan. It IS more expensive than the iSwitch 12 month Chope the Rate plan, though. But I personally would feel more comfortable with Geneco as they have clearer wording with regards to its carbon offset programme in the FAQ.
As for Geneco’s Get Sunny, although your home won’t literally be powered by solar electricity, I still think this is a good option because you’ll be directly supporting Geneco’s parent company PowerSeraya’s own solar PV system. That, to me, is preferable to buying renewable energy certificates from a third party which would be difficult to hold accountable.
The main drawback is that it’s expensive, as you would expect. But it’s the cheapest for a 100% solar fixed rate plan (the only other one is Sunseap, slightly pricier at 23.01¢ per kWh). Note that Sunseap also has a discount-off-tariff plan for 100% solar, which Geneco doesn’t have. See the next section for more details.
Bottom line: Geneco has the second-cheapest carbon neutral electricity plan in Singapore. Also offers a fixed rate solar plan – cheaper than Sunseap’s fixed rate, but more expensive than their discount off tariff plan. Bonus: Geneco’s parent company is an electricity producer with a solar energy arm.
Sunseap – Sunseap-50 (50% solar) & Sunseap-100 (100% solar)
|Electricity retailer plan||Price per kWh||Contract|
|Sunseap-50 (50% solar)||15% off tariff = now 20.73¢||24 months|
|Sunseap-50 Fixed (50% solar)||21.61¢||24 months|
|Sunseap-100 (100% solar)||10% off tariff = now 21.95¢||24 months|
|Sunseap-100 Fixed (100% solar)||23.01¢||24 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.
But what’s rather disappointing is that not all of Sunseap’s electricity plans are 100% solar. Probably in a bid to make their plans more palatable for the price-conscious residential consumer, they also have cheaper 50% solar plans.
OK lah, 50% solar, I can still accept… But recently they’ve even launched 1% solar plans! Sell out or what sia!? (I’m just going to ignore the 1% plans in this article.)
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 pick the 100% solar plan over the 50% 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: Offering the most green options, Sunseap offers 50% and 100% solar plans, and for either one, you can choose between a discount off tariff or fixed rate. Right now, the discount off tariff plans are cheaper. In fact, Sunseap-100 (10% discount off tariff, so 21.95¢ per kWh) is the cheapest full-solar electricity plan in Singapore, beating Geneco’s fixed rate plan.
Sembcorp Power – Sunshine Plan (solar from 7am to 7pm)
|Electricity retailer plan||Price per kWh||Contract|
|Sembcorp Sunshine Plan (semi-solar)||21.40¢ (7am to 7pm) / 18.65¢ (7pm to 7am)||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 explains that by “greener” they mean “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.
Sembcorp has a Sunshine Plan which is the greenest of all their plans. It’s a hybrid solar/conventional plan, where you pay a solar electricity rate (21.40¢ per kWh) from 7am to 7pm.
According to Mr Lim, the “green energy is from the green electrons injected into the grid by Sembcorp’s solar projects situated across more than 1,500 sites in Singapore.”
So, yes, you’d be partially funding as well as creating demand for Sembcorp’s solar energy activities.
In fact, Sembcorp seems to be going into the renewable energy business big-time, with both wind and solar power projects around the region. So if you want to directly fund a company that’s doing things in the clean energy field, this is another option to consider apart from Geneco and Sunseap.
However, since the plan is structured such that you pay for solar energy in the daytime, this plan might not be great for eco-warriors who work in a day job, because pretty much all of the electricity you pay for at night will be of the regular, carbon-emitting variety. I would much rather get a 100% solar plan, but I’m guessing such plans are not commercially viable.
Bottom line: Sembcorp’s regular plans are “greener” but the carbon offset is only for 50 kWh of electricity per month. The greener option is their Sunshine Plan, but it’s solar only in the daytime. No 100% solar or 100% carbon neutral plan available.
Conclusion: Which green electricity plan is best?
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 100% carbon neutral electricity and are focusing only on price, iSwitch offers the cheapest fully carbon neutral plans, period. But my pick for carbon neutral is Geneco’s Get It Green plan, which is both affordable and transparent on how the carbon credits work.
There are only 3 100% solar electricity plans in Singapore: Sunseap-100 (discount off tariff), Sunseap-100 (fixed rate) and Geneco’s Get Sunny (fixed rate).
Sunseap-100’s 10% discount plan is the cheapest on the market right now, and you’d also be putting your consumer dollar directly in the hands of a clean energy producer. If you’re looking for a fixed rate, however, Geneco’s Get Sunny is cheaper than Sunseap’s.
Make no mistake though – solar is 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.
Is it worth it to opt for a green electricity plan? Tell us why or why not!