Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Solar-based Projects Worth Over RM2bil in Sabah

"Staggering amount!" is probably what you will say as you glance past the figure, but not just yet. Probably soon, if you take what was reported in Business Times at face value.

The RM2bil worth of investment in solar-based projects in Sabah is expected to be rolled out in stages and it certainly buds well with the country's pledge commitment to reduce carbon footprint in Malaysia.

First, it was the rural electrification initiatives by the relevant Rural Development ministry, quickly followed by enactment of two important RE-related acts by KeTTHA to implement FIT in Malaysia, and latest is the effort by Sabah Parks to install a solar hybrid system in Pulau Gulisaan. The latest effort Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah is indeed commendable.


The 6kWp Solar Hybrid system in Pulau Gulisaan will essentially light up the small 'turtle' island 24 hours a day. Pulau Gulisan (one of the three Turtle Islands - the others being Pulau Selingan and Pulau Bakkungan Kecil) is only 1.6 hectares in size and is the smallest of the three islands. Much of the land has eroded away leaving only the central portion still under vegetation. Hawksbills (turtles) prefer to lay their eggs on Pulau Gulisan where the type of beach and vegetation are particularly favourable.

Pulau Gulisaan, Sandakan. Image: Sabah Parks

Summary of the solar-hybrid initiative announced on Feb.16, 2012 by BT:

Pilot project: 6kWp solar hybrid
Location: Pulau Gulisaan, Turtle Island Park, 40km north of Sandakan town
Cost to install: RM270,000 (USD90,000)
Power supply: round the clock
Energy storage: lithium polymer cells (contain no lead and acid)

What's Coming Up

1) Solar hybrid plant worth RM30mil (USD10mil)
2) Sabah Parks facilities in the Kinabalu Parks and Crocker Range Parks
    - studies completed and proposal for green RE already submitted
3) Detailed study at the Pulau Tiga Park (Kuala Penyu), the Tawau Hills Park
    and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park - soon to commence.
4) Comprehensive study for the Sabah Forestry Department - proposal submitted
5) Solar-powered LED street lights to municipalities in Sabah - soon to install

This is indeed a wise move by Sabah Parks as it will spearhead the state, together with the other departments, to the front line of RE initiative. It showed commitment and action by the ministry.

The downside is the lack of effort to educate the public - the rural population in particular - on how to appreciate and maintain the solar power systems. The solar panels and energy storage battery normally last more than 20 years with proper maintenance. As the saying goes, to know is to love, if the people know little about the equipment then it is hard to expect them to appreciate them, and to care for them.

kWp - kilowatt peak (term used for solar panel energy-generation ratings; size/capacity)
RE - Renewable Energy
KeTTHA - Kementerian Tenaga, Teknologi Hijau dan Air
               (Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water)
FIT - feed-in tariff

The article by Business Times: http://www.btimes.com.my/articles/20120216005303/Article/


Wesley Yeo said...

Hello. I like your page. Read about the Pulau Gulisan solar hybrid project on your site saying the system was 6kWp but when I checked on Compugates web site, and other newspaper postings, the system was quoted as 6kWh. If the system is for "round the clock" then this means the peak output would be only 250 watts. Interesting to know what is the actual spec. Keep up the good job of sharing good information on your site. Regards!

de engineur said...

Hi Wesley. Thanks for your feedback.

I believe the peak output is 6kW as a 250W can be generated from a single 1100mm x 900mm solar panel and could be bought for less than a couple of thousand of Ringgit.

I gathered from a system implementer in 2011 that cost to install a 1kWp solar PV was RM14,000 to RM15,000 and it is decreasing. Say, energy storage system cost another RM15,000 then the stand alone self-sufficient 1kWp system would cost RM30,000/kWp

For a 6kWp system that would roughly be RM180,000. If they decide to keep minimum load at night, it could be less than that. In the case of Pulau Gulisaan, the committed cost is RM270,000; just about make sense.

I could be wrong though, but will keep an eye on the development.