Large solar plants, net metering to help RE generation push


The government will continue to promote the generation of solar power in the renewable energy (RE) mix by allowing the set up of large-scale projects and a net energy metering (NEM) scheme.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the drop in price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is making the generation method economically competitive to conventional generation methods.

“The 80% drop in price of PV panels since 2009 has seen RE generation costs reaching very close to grid parity,” she said at the second day of the ninth International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Grid parity means the generation cost of RE levelised through the total capital of the project per kilowatt hour (kWh) is the same as that of generation from fossil fuels.

As its price competitiveness is reaching the level of generation from fossil fuels, the need to be subsidised will no longer be necessary, the minister said.

The minister hopes the plan to call for large-scale solar round 3 (LSS3) bids and the NEM scheme will encourage the expansion of solar power generation.

Yeo said the Energy Commission is preparing to open the LSS3 programme and the request for proposals will be open towards the end of the year or by January 2019.

RE players will have six months to prepare, while the submission of projects and bid proposals will be completed by the third quarter of the year.

The government has also agreed to improve the implementation of the NEM through several initiatives.

“Firstly, for domestic, commercial and industrial users, we will improve the NEM by allowing the additional energy generated to be exported back to the grid, on a one-to-one offset.

“This means every 1kWh exported back to the grid will be offset against 1kWh consumed from the grid, instead of at the displaced costs previously,” she said.

The government has agreed to implement the NEM through a solar leasing mechanism using the Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy.

Under this method, the cost for the purchase and installation of PV panels, electricity generation revenue and electricity tariff will be agreed to by three parties — namely the customers, investors/owners and the utility company.

“This will mean customers do not need to pay upfront as most of the cost will be borne by the investors for installing these PVs,” she said.

Yeo said there will be investors in the assets of the PV panels. Investors will then talk to customers on energy bills — let’s say, a saving of 10% of their energy bills — and the installers or the asset owners will then get
a profit of the difference from the savings made of electricity bills.

One of the companies involved in this initiative is GSPARX Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of TNB Renewables Sdn Bhd which is a unit of Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

GSPARX was established to fill the void in PV generation to meet the demand from commercial and industrial customers, and will now also offer packages for residential customers by year-end.

GSPARX’s customers pay for the hardware and installation, who will then be charged either a mixed monthly cost or per kWh basis through the electricity bill — which is similar to the RM0 upfront packages for telecommunications firms.

Yeo said customers, installers and the government will benefit from the initiatives.

“Customers will benefit from this through the solar panels’ zero capital expenditure. There is a potential cost saving of electricity costs because you will have an agreement with GSPARX on what will be your electricity display cost.

“Because GSPARX has committed not to do the installation works, panel installers will have an opportunity to do that. The government, in turn, will be closer to its RE target by 2025,” she said.

Yeo added that the government is encouraging other investors to come in and provide similar packages to encourage rooftop solar PV uptake.

Technology Park Malaysia Corp Sdn Bhd (TPM), she said, will set up a solar PV farm in its campus in Bukit Jalil to support the national initiative of a sustainable and green Malaysia.

TPM is currently working on building a solar farm with a 7.4MW peak, utilising its existing rooftop, building, covered car parks and open space to support at least 70% of its internal power consumption.

“We encourage more government agencies and the private sector to make full use of their rooftop space to generate RE,” Yeo said.

TPM, via its wholly owned subsidiary TPM Engineering Sdn Bhd (TPME), will collaborate with GP Energy Co Ltd of South Korea for this project.

TPME will be responsible for the fabrication, design, technical and power network consultancy, while GP Energy will provide financing services and operations and maintenance services.