Thursday, March 17, 2016

Malaysia to install 1,250 MW of solar PV by 2020

Malaysia is poised to become member of the Gigawatt Club of solar PV, expectedly in 2020. But if MIDA (Malaysian Investment Developement Authority) is to be believed, this would happen earlier as the government agency is forecasting that by 2020 Malaysia is expected to have installed about 1,250 MW of solar photovoltaic.

As of today, SEDA data indicates that our installed capacity in this type of RE is just slightly over 230 MW.

Government to approve RM1.7b investment in Solar PV?

This sounds interesting but that's very speculative. Hence, we should just treat it as 'intention to announce', for now. Once announced we will have clearer picture of what's planned for implementation. It should be noted that announced project cannot be used as a component of the RE yardstick.

We have heard of many solar PV project announcements around the globe which did not materialised for various reasons.

: : Here is what we saw in the local daily The Star Online that would be of interest to RE players : :

The government is looking to approve several more solar photovoltaic (PV) companies with a total estimated investment of RM1.7 billion this year.

"We will announce it when the time comes," Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Datuk Phang Ah Tong said, noting that one solar PV company, with a total investment of RM1 billion, has been approved so far this year.

"Malaysia's stategic position in the industry is now attracting global solar PV module manufacturers," he said, adding the country's PV cluster ecosystem comprises about 250 companies from upstream manufacturing to downstream services, including module supply chain, supporting industries and system integrators.

"Malaysia also expects to have installed about 1,250 MW of solar PV by 2020 from the current 230 MW following two mechanisms approved by the government namely net metering and utility scale solar. With support from the government, we are optimistic the target is achievable with these two mechanisms in place," he said.

Phang also said that solar energy now has become a popular approach to renewable energy usage as it is the easiest, compared with biomass, biogas and hydropower.

"Malaysia is now the world's third largest manufacturer of PV cells, with the industry contributing significantly to economic growth and job creation." - Phang Ah Tong, Deputy CEO of MIDA.

Malaysia also has the world's largest thin manufacturing site and is one of the top exporters of solar
panels to the US, he noted.

"Five out of 10 of the world 's largest solar companies are operating in Malaysia with the PV industry recording revenue of RM20.8 billion last year," Phang said.- Bernama

Source: The Star

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Brazil's Solar PV sector to create more than 60,000 jobs opportunities by 2018

Brazil will require a trained workforce to keep up with the PV pipeline. Image of "Christ the Redeemer" by Encyclopædia Britannica Online

Brazil population is estimated at 204 million in 2015 per Trading Economics, and with the Samba nation unemployment rate of 6.8% that year, every effort to alleviate this is most welcomed.

In Brazil, industry players estimated that, for every 1 MW of solar, there will be 20 to 30 direct or indirect jobs created.

Let's say we loosely apply this to our situation in Malaysia, our current installed capacity of 227MW (latest from SEDA Malaysia - as at Feb 2016) would have created around 6,800 jobs so far. Not really sure if we have reached that figure yet.

As a matter of interest, here is more of the Brazil news (through PVTech):

Solar PV sector to provide jobs to 60,000 to 90,000 people

Brazil's solar energy sector will create between 60,000 and 90,000 new job opportunities up to 2018, according to the Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy (Absolar).

At present at least 3.3GW of solar power plants are due to be installed in Brazil by 2018 as part of the country's reserve energy auctions and projects made possible under the free market of the state of Pernambuco.

Absolar claimed this would help to alleviate Brazil's 6.8% unemployment rate at the end of 2015, which accounts for 1.7 million unemployed persons.

Furthermore, these estimates do not include the potential jobs creation arising from the distributed generation (DG) market, which tripled in size during 2015.

Absolar executive president Rodrigo Sauaia said the installation of solar projects will result in a "significant volume" of new job opportunities, but said the DG market will require a large number of small companies having skilled teams. Professional training will become a priority this year as such training takes time and therefore action must be taken now to avoid a manpower issue creating a bottleneck in the market once it starts to progress.

These comments echoed the findings of a recent report by India's Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), which claimed that India's ambitious solar energy target could spark the creation of one million jobs, but producing a skilled workforce may be challenging.

Referring to Brazil's action plan Sauaia said: "We are evaluating the certification mechanisms that have been applied in other countries, trying to understand which of these initiatives have been successful and which ones can be used as a reference for Brazil to plan our own way."

Source: PV Tech

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kayoola: Africa’s first Solar-Powered bus launched

Derived from the word Kayoola (which means mass carrier), Uganda's Kiira Motors unveiled Africa's first solar-powered electric bus earlier this month. Later, on February 16, 2016, President Yoweri Museveni took a ride to officially launch the Kayoola solar bus at Serena Hotel in Kampala.

Launching on Feb 16. Image from The Independent

Kayoola the 'mass carrier'. Image from Kiira Motors

Solar panels on top of the bus to charge the batteries.

According to the fact sheet by Kiira Motors, the 35-seater bus propulsion system is by electric motor powered by both battery pack and soar panels:
  • Top speed: 100km/h
  • Electric range: 80 km (50 miles)
  • Range extension by solar: Approx. 12 km

Powertrain specification

Of interest in this article is the powertrain, particularly those that are related to 'solar' although you can read  here if you are interested in everything else.

Source: Kiira Motors

It is obviously short ranged (80 km), which lead you to think that this can only be suitable for use in urban areas, rather than touring from one city to another. The solar panel could, however, extend the range depending on the weather and the good thing is that re-charging can be done anywhere without worrying that grid power may not be available.

How much?

The solar bus prototype costs $140,000 (RM584,000) to produce, but it is estimated cost around $58,000 (RM242,000) after mass production and is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs either directly or indirectly by the year 2018.

That's pretty expensive to begin with, don't you think?

The Green Mechanics' two cents: 

It's encouraging that Uganda took this bold move of producing its own vehicle to showcase its version of solar-powered electric vehicle (EV). Manufacturing a vehicle that can be mass-produced and able to penetrate the saturated market is already complicated enough let alone one that is fitted with unproven fuel source. For this, they must be given credit.

Certainly Malaysia which has a per capita GDP of more than 12 times that of Uganda's can do the same:

Malaysia Uganda
Land area : 329,847 km sq 241,038 km sq
Population (2015) : 30.5 million 37 million 
GDP per capita (2015) : US$26,600 US$2,100
Electricity -Total installed capacity : 28.53 mil kW 0.71 mil kW
Electricity derived from:
a) Fosil : 87.6%  (2012) 21%  (2011)
b) Hydro : 11.6%  (2012) 59.9% (2014)
c) Other Renewable Energy : 0.8%  (2012) 19.2% (2014)

Source: The World Factbook at Central Intelligence Agency, CIA (US) which is published online.

We don't have to take the route taken by Uganda. We already have electric bus of our own in Melaka and Selangor. A little tweaking without compromising the safety and quality of the vehicle can pretty much be done to install solar panels to charge the batteries.

Building a whole new bus from ground up may backfire as a lot of effort will be required to prove its road worthiness, and brand acceptance in the competitive the market.

Good one from Uganda, this is!

References: Kiira Motor, CNN