Thursday, March 23, 2017

Solar PV industry to generate RM70 billion and 50,000 jobs by 2020

Although it has relatively small PV installed capacity with less than 300 MW so far, Malaysia maintains that it is one of the largest PV manufacturers in the world, coming third behind China and European Union. Is this still the case presently?

Maybe. Anyway, the point here is that we are indeed one of the world's biggest producer of solar PV panels and components, which is good news.

However, the relevant ministry's estimate of generating (just) RM70 billion from the PV industry does not commensurate (or is my expectation too high?) with it's tag line of Southeast Asia's 'manufacturing hub', and therefore not that encouraging considering the many global PV industry players in the country. Currently there are 8 companies involved in the PV manufacturing here, namely:
  • First Solar (Kedah)
  • Panasonic Energy Malaysia (Kedah)
  • JA Solar (Penang)
  • Jinko Solar (Penang)
  • TS Solartech (Penang)
  • SunEdison (Perak)
  • SunPower (Malacca) and
  • Q-Cells Malaysia (Cyberjaya)


SunPower plant in Melaka. Image by - AUO SunPower Sdn Bhd

The ministry did not elaborate on its reply to question in the parliament sitting but from what I gathered, some manufacturers are scaling back on production due to market conditions. Why? And how do we encourage them to boost or at least maintain their production volume? This is an area that the government would need to look into if it is to sustain the growth of the PV industry.

The other issues is that some of the solar PV project implementers prefer importing solar panels rather than using what is produced locally. It could either be due to the local manufacturer focusing more on exporting their procuct, or the local industry players perceive the local products quality as inferior hence the lack of trust in the locally produced goods. Either way, it's not benefiting the PV industry in the country.

Last month, we were approach by such implementer/system integrator and was offered panels sourced from abroad - I wouldn't name those countries. What's wrong with getting them from one of the above 8 manufacturers? Isn't SunPower based in the US, and Q-cells from South Korea? What is wrong with Malaysia?

The ministry's statement that "Various initiatives were undertaken directly by the ministry's agency" does not explain anything, at least not in the context of answering the question. But then again, some junior journalists may have missed few points from his speech. For me, I would want to know and would highlight those 'initiatives' in my reporting. Refer below for the news excerpt from Bernama.


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Photovoltaics (PV) Can Generate RM70 Billion, 50,000 Jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia can potentially generate RM70 billion and 50,000 job opportunities from the photovoltaics (PV) industry by 2020.

Science, Technology and Innovation Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah said solar cell conductive coating materials contributed significantly to the thin-film technology industry in the country.

"Currently, Malaysia is the world's third largest PV manufacturers after China and the European Union," he said during the question and answer session at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

He was responding to Dr Rosli Che Mat (PAS-Hulu Langat) on the current development of thin-film technology and its significant contribution to the industry.

Abu Bakar said there were eight PV production companies in the country, namely, First Solar and Panasonic Energy Malaysia in Kulim Hi-Tech Park; JA Solar, Jinko Solar and TS Solartech in Penang; SunEdison in Ipoh; SunPower in Malacca; and Q-Cells Malaysia in Cyberjaya. He said the ministry had always supported and encouraged local industries to explore and adopt advanced technologies such as thin film technology.

"Various initiatives were undertaken directly by the ministry's agency or through research and development fund support such as grants for pre-commercialisation and financial assistance to get the existing related technologies," he said.

Source — Bernama

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