Singapore renewable energy finance firm Positive Energy scales back as Covid stymies investment

The startup endured a tough 2020, shed staff and its co-founder relocated to the Netherlands as the firm’s only remaining employee. The startup’s struggles reflect the difficulties of renewables entrepreneurship in the Covid era.

A solar farm.
A solar farm. Investments in renewable energy have been hit by delayed payments, a cooling in interest in emerging markets, and falling electricity demand. Image: Mny-Jhee/Shutterstock

Singapore-based renewable energy financing company Positive Energy has scaled back operations after enduring a difficult year impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Positive Energy is a digital platform that connects renewable energy projects to investors, and aims to simplify and speed-up renewable energy project financing. Founded in 2017, the Asia-focused firm makes money by taking a cut of deals made on its platform.

Having raised seed funding and launched the platform in 2019, the firm ran into difficulties after failing to secure further financing in 2020. The platform was suspended late last year, and the company let go employees in Singapore, where it was headquartered, as well as business heads in Vietnam and India.

Co-founder and chief finance officer Vincent Bakker joined another firm at the start of this year. Co-founder and chief executive Nicolas Payen is now the sole employee, and has relocated from Singapore to the Netherlands.

Positive Energy recently landed a waste-to-energy deal that saved the company, and the platform is up and running again, Payen told Eco-Business. 

Positive Energy is not the only player in the renewables space to face difficulties over the last year. The pandemic has applied the brakes to development capital, and investors have pulled back in emerging markets, meaning fewer potential deals to run on Positive Energy’s platform. The Covid-induced fall in electricity demand has also slowed the planning and execution of energy deals.

Payen said that although 2021 still presented uncertainties, if Covid vaccinations are rolled out quickly, a return to peak energy demand would follow, and that would mean a need for additional clean energy generation and investment.

“We have seen a number of countries declare net zero ambitions, and a lot of investment will be oriented towards climate friendly technology. So the fundamentals of our business are very strong,” he said.

“We will see growing momentum among climate technology venture capitalists this year. If we get the capital support we need, we can play our role in the energy transition.”

Payen said he remained focused on the company’s mission — rethinking the energy funding process to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy assets globally.

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