Read about story of SolarGy in Zaobao 23 Jan 2020 (with english translation)

Enter the business of the sunrise industry (Click here to view the original Article)


Lin Yafu (Albert Lim) revealed that when he was a mechanical and electrical engineering consulting engineer, he found that some players were not familiar with their solar product and decided to conduct his own research and set up SolarGy Pte Ltd within two weeks. From the first 5 kW solar power contract, the company has continuously progressed to install solar panels for Jewel Changi, and is confident that it can take on more challenging projects.


Twelve years ago, when solar panels were very expensive, Lin Yafu was optimistic about the solar market and founded SolarGy.


Today, the company is one of the major players in the main solar design, procurement and construction (EPC) company in the local market. Excluding HDB, the company account for 25% of the market share in Singapore.


Lin Yafu (62), the founder of SolarGy, said in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao that in recent years, China has vigorously promoted sustainable energy, driving demand for solar power generation devices, and more and more buildings have adopted solar power generation.


The company's revenue for the last fiscal year doubled year-on-year, and currently employs 25 engineers and 35 workers, with just four employees at the start.


Talking about why he entered the solar field that year, Lin Yafu revealed that he had previously opened a mechanical and electrical engineering consulting company to design building power systems for customers. At that time, Singapore began to promote green buildings.


However, he found that some players were not familiar with the products, and decided to do his own research. Within two weeks, he set up SolarGy, whose English name represented Solar Energy.


At that time, solar panels were expensive, eight times the current price, so there were not many such engineering contracts on the market, and the source of income was unstable.


Lin Yafu's first solar contract was won when he designed a power system for a local church. The power generation scale is 5 kilowatts.


For this contract, he turned to Japanese solar panel brand SANYO, but he was worried that the scale of the project was too small and Sanyo might ignore it. To his deep surprise, the Japanese side called on a Sunday and expressed interest.


Lin Yafu said: "Demand for SANYO solar panels is already very large in the European market but they hope to open up Singapore and regional markets. However, they still have some doubts and concerns at that time, fearing that we will dismantle and plagiarize after buying the product."


So the Japanese side sent their general manager to visit us and understand what we are doing. Soon afterwards, an entire engineering team was sent to test whether the company's technology could operate in high temperature and humid environments.


After successfully completing the church project, the company continued to secure a contract at Pasir Ris Singtel Telecom's Exchange station. The company's third contract is to install solar panels for the Ocean Financial Centre.


Talking about the difference between SolarGy and its competitors, Lin Yafu said: "I am from a consulting engineer background, I understand the needs of customers, and I can design solutions that meet their needs."


And the company is always fully prepared before drawing bids, drawing detailed design drawings and engineering analysis.


In addition, Lin Yafu will frankly tell customers when the project is not feasible. A member of parliament had asked him to install solar panels in his parking garage, but the garage was just outside the house and there was only a few hours of sunlight every day. So he pointed out that this installation is not cost-effective, the total installation cost is $5,000, and only $200 can be saved each year. He suggested installing on the kitchen roof to save even more electricity bills.


Lin Yafu also continuously improved the design plan. "If the same project allows me to design a second time, I will definitely find out where I can improve."


This is also the main reason why he chose to start a business that year, because working in a company often has a set of existing practices, and it is difficult to try new things and ideas.


The company participates in projects including local residential, commercial and industrial projects, and has also won contracts for landmark projects such as Jewel Changi.


Lin Yafu said that this is a very challenging project. The project designer, Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, personally paid close attention to every detail. "How do we install solar panels, how to put screws and wires hidden, and how to reduce the space between the panel and the roof, he would ask. "


For the sake of both beauty and energy efficiency, Lin Yafu and his team repeatedly evaluated and calculated. "Architects have unquestionable requirements for beauty, but we are energy professionals and we have a contractual obligation for the solar energy efficiency of the building."


Jewel Changi's solar power project has a capacity of 800 kilowatts, and the total area occupied by the panels is 1,200 square meters. A total of 1,200 panels are used.


Lin Yafu said, "After completing this project, we have a deeper understanding of the industry, and we can take on more challenging projects.”


Another challenging project is the Resorts World Sentosa. The customer decided to install the solar panels midway, and it was required to be completed within four months. The time was short, and the company finally completed the project within three months.


The company's largest project involved the installation of solar panels on the Nanyang Technological University campus, with a total power output of 5 MW.


In order to improve efficiency, the company has established a comprehensive digital platform that summarizes all design and work processes, including site surveys, designs, costing, technical plans, procurement, licensing, field execution, progress monitoring, performance monitoring and scrap equipment disposal.


Promote solar power in SMEs

At present, the adoption of sustainable energy is still dominated by governments, multinational companies and large enterprises, and it is not common among local SMEs.


Lin Yafu's next plan is to promote solar power generation among SMEs.


As for the reasons for the low adoption rate, he said: "SMEs do not have this requirement to adopt sustainable energy, and they do not do sustainable reporting like multinational companies."


And for small and medium enterprises, the initial investment is not small, generally between $100,000 to $300,000. This will take about six to eight years to pay back.


However, small and medium-sized enterprises often have limited liquidity, and it is not easy to invest this money.


Lin Yafu said that UOB recently launched the U-Solar program. Small and medium-sized enterprises can apply for up to 70% of financing for installing solar panels, and the monthly electricity savings after installation are sufficient to cover monthly repayments.


He pointed out that the small and medium-sized industrial area in Tuas area has the same building height, and there are no high-rise buildings nearby, which is very suitable for installing solar panels.


Lin Yafu said that the company is in discussions with some SMEs and may win contracts in the coming weeks.