Matthew Peloso is a highly-driven entrepreneur whose goal is to establish commercial solutions using technology for a better world.
1. Being named as one of the most innovative companies in 2016 by Fast Company, was surely a proud moment for you and Sun Electric. What is your advice for start-ups and entrepreneurs embarking in the solar industry business?
Be different, really different. Solve real problems. Bring industry problems close to you. Listen to your customers, and get ready for a marathon. Entrepreneurship isn’t a sprint.
2. Do you subscribe to a motto or philosophy in work/personal life?
This has changed a lot from when I started my entrepreneurship journey in 2012. I used to think that I could change the energy industry with innovation – and I was motivated a lot through the potential in knowing that I was doing the right thing, advancing and improving power for consumers and the future power sector. Through this period, I have come to learn that I can’t work through this on my own. I know now that it takes a group to work ahead on the advancement of the energy sector. It is up to us to see the benefits. Through this, I have learnt that we need to be objective and rational in the development of work and life.
3. You’ve been in the solar industry for several years now. Is there a significant achievement or milestone for you personally or for the company?
All around the world, the electricity sector has traditionally been heavily regulated. Despite the barriers to entry in a heavily regulated market, Sun Electric has made a lot of progress on its milestones. To date, we have sealed more than 32 MWp of solar projects in Singapore, allowing previously-underutilised roof spaces in Singapore to generate clean energy for their city. An increasing number of local businesses have taken up clean energy packages from Sun Electric which source their power from their own city’s rooftops. Companies big and small can now play their part for the environment and their city, while saving money off the electricity tariff and making money from their rooftops.
In addition, in June 2017, Sun Electric won the first SolarRoof contract from JTC, Singapore’s leading agency for industrial infrastructure. This 15-20 year contract will allow Sun Electric to install solar panels on the rooftops of 27 JTC buildings and export the solar energy for other users connected to them through the power grid, meaning we have succeeded in marking a new disruptive business model that is transforming the power market. Under existing solar leasing models, power generated primarily served only the building forcing rooftops out of utilisation. The new business model will allow Sun Electric to generate an additional 5 MWp of solar-generated electricity with JTC connecting users across cities. To solve that problem, instead of buildings, we think cities – and that is making all the difference.
4. If you were not doing what you’re currently doing now in the solar industry, what other career option do you think you might have pursued?
Before I set up Sun Electric, I was starting to explore career options in the legal industry and would have been involved in patent law and innovation inside a technology business. I had been a consultant for entrepreneurs, helping them look at ways to register intangible assets or develop them. I was also out in the solar industry looking for work in technology development. Luckily for me, no one made me an offer and I got to become an entrepreneur with the potential to transform the energy sector.
5. The energy industry is in transition at the moment. From the use of hydrocarbons to cleaner renewable energy options. What are your thoughts about when the demand for oil and gas will peak? 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040?
It is notoriously difficult to predict the demand for oil and gas. However, what is driving volumes in the renewable sector is a mix of continued support with the implementation of larger scale installations and price reduction. Outside of the transport sector, oil may already see its peak while gas and renewables come into the mix. However, the demand for gas would not disappear right away. Realistically, renewables cannot cover 100% of what you need unless there are dramatic improvements in storage capacity, so we work towards creating an achievable goal. We believe that most cities (in particular, densely populated cities) can generate about 10% of their power needs from their own rooftops and we are enabling this realistic target through the SolarSpaceTM platform for smart cities. We think setting something achievable is important for our world to look seriously at the renewable power industry to provide the largest benefits to electricity consumers.
6. As Sun Electric expands its presence globally (USA, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines), you will be planning to increase your workforce. What type of skills or characteristics are you looking for in a team member?
Given the heavily regulated nature of the power sector, it requires people with the discipline and patience to navigate through the dense thicket of regulations and the inertia of the sector. At the same time, we require creative individuals with the foresight to see through a new era of energy and to continue innovating. It is a tough mix to balance both skillsets required.
7. Can you tell us the biggest challenges Sun Electric has faced so far, and how did you overcome them?
Given that the energy/utilities sector has always been tightly regulated and that consumers are used dealing with the incumbents, the challenge we face is to give consumers the impetus to switch from their legacy power providers, and to challenge their conceptions around access to clean energy.
8. As Singapore is space constrained, do you see an emerging demand and market for offshore solar farms developing here?
There is some potential demand, which is essentially facilitated by the government. However, the focus on rooftops is still quite important as there are still so many under-utilised rooftops! I believe expertise developed here is much more important in terms of the evolution of the power sector than in offshore solar farms and focusing on rooftop solar provides our firm with capabilities which are significantly scalable and less expensive. Future cities will incorporate energy generating infrastructure within their own architecture. We don’t need to go far from the city to get power from our environment. It is right here already.
9. Other than in Singapore, where else do you think in Asia, has seen significant growth in the solar industry?
Apart from solar energy, Asia has access to multiple renewable energy options including wind, geothermal and hydro. Asia is also home to many densely-populated cities (e.g. Jakarta, Manilla, Bangkok) where demand for energy is high, putting a strain on the nation’s grid and creating the need for a renewable source of energy. However due to space constraints and lack of infrastructure, not all renewable energy sources are feasible.
Solar energy, we believe, remains the most viable renewable energy option for cities across Asia. Our business model has the potential to overcome the challenges faced by densely populated cities, such as space constraints and addresses limitations of intermittent power supply, as the solar-generated power is fully integrated with the grid. We believe that Sun Electric will facilitate the widespread adoption of solar energy, not only in Singapore but in these densely-populated cities across Asia.
10. Where do you see the industry in the next 10-20 years?
We expect major advancements in energy storage capacity (battery) to happen in the next 3-5 years. Tesla recently constructed one of the world’s biggest battery, the size of an American football field, in South Australia to address the country’s energy woes. If the technology proves to be sustainable, this would ease the problem of intermittency - solar will be able to serve not only as a peaking power resource but also be a source of base load power which is currently incapable of doing so. This will potentially change the future of energy globally. Improvements in data connectivity will be a big impetus for new energy technologies. The potential of this will be further enhanced when regulators open up the information systems architecture that traditional utilities companies have access to, to newer and more innovative companies in the power sector.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 17 September 2018 – Brent: US$78/b; WTI: US$68/b
Headlines of the week
As weather systems batter the Atlantic and Pacific – Hurricane Florence hitting the Carolinas in the US and Typhoon Mangkhut cleaving its way through East Asia – the oil industry is watching for signs of continued turbulence, worried that it could add to a market jittery over upcoming Iranian sanctions. Particularly in the Atlantic, where the 2017 hurricane season was very disruptive over crude production in the Gulf of Mexico. A year later, with growing onshore production, the risk of disruption is now higher than ever, with tropical storms liable to cause major flooding in major shale basins like the Permian.
While destructive, the typhoons of the west Pacific generally do not have a large impact on crude prices. The major crude production areas of Southeast and East Asia tend to be relatively insulated from the direct path of storms, which will already have had their strength sapped after hitting the Pacific bulwark of the Philippines. The refining centres in Japan, South Korea and China do get impacted, but preparedness tend to dull the impact. However, the situation is different in the Atlantic. Two weeks ago, when Tropical Storm Gordon whipped its way through the Gulf Coast, WTI prices leapt in response as offshore rigs shut down and evacuated workers. Traditionally, the hurricane seasons of past will largely be confined in impact to WTI prices, but the increasingly international reach of American crude now has a direct discernible impact on the global Brent benchmark as well.
After Florence and Gordon, there are three more storms brewing in the Atlantic. Even though Gordon proved weaker than expected, some 160,000 b/d of production was shut down for over a week, while Florence avoided major output areas. Up next is Hurricane Helene, which looped back towards Europe after developing in West Africa. Hurricane Isaac headed straight towards the Caribbean, where refining infrastructure has been fragile due to PDVSA’s chronic woes, but has now weakened into a tropical depression. Tropical Storm Joyce started out looking like a direct threat, but now appears that it will peter out in the middle of the Atlantic without making landfall.
The Atlantic hurricane season is now at its peak, and will continue until the end of November. For now, the 2018 season does not look to be as disruptive as 2017 or even 2016, which is why the WTI discount to Brent has dropped down to US$10/b, down from US$7/b when Gordon started threatening. Major weather prediction agencies have also revised their forecast for storm numbers down, with the Colorado State University cutting its prediction of named storms from 14 to 11 in August. There is still time for a major hurricane to develop, but for now, the 2018 Atlantic season looks to be relatively benign for crude production and prices.
The impact of Atlantic hurricane seasons on GOM output
The Oil and Gas sector is still recovering from some difficult times in the recent past and has adapted a high-performing culture to generate more from less. That has also translated to replacing the older, expensive resources to younger, cheaper talents and leveraging the gig workforce.
Thus having a few decades of experience in your kitty might sound like a huge advantage but in reality, this might become a burden if you are in the job market and competing with your younger counterparts, especially in this dynamic energy industry. The reputation of being redundant and lack of acceptance of newer skills can precede you and shroud the recruiter’s decision.
However, there is always a demand for experience in the job market and the top oil and gas companies are in a lookout for personnel, who have relevant prior experiences and are ready to adjust to the evolving changes in this industry.
Upskilling to remain relevant in this industry is crucial for the ageing workforce but when you are seeking a new job, everything zeros down to getting an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to the recruiter.
The first hurdle is to have a cracking resume or curriculum vitae that get shortlisted for the next round.
Here we share some tricks to age-proof your resume and check all the right boxes in a recruiter’s mind within the first 6 seconds of their short attention span.*
1. Be creative to attract attention
The best weapons you have are the skills that were acquired during the long tenure spent in this industry. It can easily become a drawback for your resume if you tend you write extensively about all these skill-sets and fail to understand what the specific job opening demands from its candidates.
It is advisable to select your skills carefully and highlight them with more visuals and fewer words. Use graphs and percentages instead of long sentences to make your resume stand out. Try to feature them on the front page and showcase only the relevant skills for the job you are applying.
2. Downplay on dates
Now, this can be a little tricky but not difficult. Do not unnecessarily highlight personal information like age and if needed move it to an obscure corner of your resume where there are lesser chances of it to be noticed.
While, for some jobs, the academic credentials are necessary to be mentioned, we recommend to feature these on the front page with the degree and university name but try and avoid the graduation dates. The recruiter might indulge in quick math to estimate your age. Also, when you mention the job history, maintain the chronology but avoid mentioning the start and end dates.
Please note that none of the above implies for you to submit misleading information to your prospective employer at any given stage of the recruitment process.
3. Highlight the recent and relevant experiences
There has been a massive shift in oil and gas processes, equipment and technology in the last few decades. Improvements in drilling mechanism, data-collecting sensors, technology to improve worker’s safety, etc. have changed most upstream and downstream jobs.
You might have also gone through this age of transformation but your resume might look dated if you end up mentioning the entire history.
Keep it crisp and recent; bypass mentioning any experience that may not be relevant today and does minimal value-add showcasing your talent for the new job. If you have moved out of oil and gas industry sometime during your career, keep it off the resume unless that experience adds value to the current job opening.
You ideally should be showcasing all the accolades that came your way throughout your professional life. Craft your messaging around mentions about the impact of your performance on the employer’s top-line and bottom-line results.
Having said this, under no circumstance should you use incorrect career or skill information in your resume.
4. Speak the language of the recruiter
Pick terminologies mentioned in the job description and highlight them in your resume. Try to tailor-make the resume to befit the job description and hence easier for the recruiter to understand your relevancy.
Keep working on your resume on a constant basis and it will become an easy task to quickly modify the variable content based on each new application.
5. Provide Social Media Coordinates
Provide the LinkedIn, Twitter and other relevant Social Media coordinates in your resume. There is a high possibility that you will be scrutinized on your social media activity and hence it is good to keep your professional social platforms details updated on your resume.
This also signals about your ability to stay relevant with the time by adopting digital communications.
Update your profile picture and preferably get it done by a professional photographer who focuses to capture your positive attitude and energy.
Maturity and leadership skills come organically to older workforce due to their extensive experience; And half the job-search battle is won if that can be captured in your resume and featured to the potential employers.
While it is discriminating and unethical to deny a job due to your age, there are several instances of biased recruitment in every industry, including oil and gas.
Bonus Tip: It is said your network is your net-worth these days. Connect with other energy sector professionals and share your experience with the community to increase your professional network.
We wish you all the best in your next job search!