Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

SBI Offshore diversifies into solar energy as offshore downturn hits

SBI Offshore diversifies into solar energy as offshore downturn hits
Singapore-listed SBI Offshore has diversified into the renewable energy sector through a joint venture with a German solar energy specialist, in view of the downturn in the offshore marine sector.

The offshore services firm has formed a joint venture named Graess Energy in Singapore with Germany’s Grass Group. SBI Offshore owns 51% of the venture and the remaining 49% held by special-purpose firm GSS Renewables under Grass Group.

Graess Energy will design, engineer, construct, develop, own, operate, maintain and store solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems and plants (PV projects), as well as undertake independent power producer activities.

John Chan, chairman of SBI Offshore, said that while offshore marine will continue to be the company’s “first pillar” of business, the venture into the solar energy vertical will present a new dimension of growth.

Chan recalled that from the second half of 2014, oil prices had collapsed “too fast and too much”, leading to the adverse operating conditions in the global offshore oil and gas market.

“The oil majors are all cutting costs, newbuilding orders for rigs have dried up and charter rates have gone down,” Chan told Seatrade Maritime. “We have been looking at solar energy since a year ago as a business to compliment us.”

He added that the solar energy business is a more “scalable industry with quicker turnaround” as compared to the offshore business.

Graess Energy will tap on growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, the world’s fastest growing market for PV projects due to its increasing energy demand and greater focus on renewable energy.

Chan said Graess Energy will most likely make a first move into Japan which presents better prospects such as higher feed-in tariffs, as well as to look at other markets in Kazakhstan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and the Middle East.

Harald Grass, founder of Grass Group, said: “We are working together towards securing the first few PV projects by the end of the year.”

Since 2000, Grass Group has focused on solar energy and executed approximately two gigawatts of PV projects in various parts of the world.

At present, SBI Offshore and Grass Group are also negotiating on the injection of the assets of the Grass Group into Graess Energy, including existing PV projects in Europe. The expected acquisition of these assets and any subsequent PV projects secured by Graess Energy may lead to a new core business for SBI Offshore.