Muted solar projects hurt manufacturers


The underwhelmed recognition along the supply chain remains the prime challenge for solar energy providers to meet the government’s target in raising electricity production from renewable energy (RE).

Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association head of secretariat Lionel Yap said while the government is offering a significant value of solar projects, the suppliers to the photovoltaic industry seemed to disregard the projects due to a lacklustre demand, as seen before.

“The biggest challenge that we have in the solar industry at the moment is getting the information out there, and that people don’t understand the business of solar energy, as we have been hearing this argument for about 10 years.

“One of the examples is that solar companies are still having a hard time to secure cable manufacturers as subcontractors. They are afraid to get into solar cabling because there was no local demand,” he said at the Asean Super 8 media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

While the majority of the solar providers in the country consists of small and medium businesses, Yap added that they have been securing projects outside Malaysia with the financial assistance from the government’s investment agencies.

“As far as the solar projects are concerned, the construction industry in Malaysia has proven their worth overseas, having secured majority of their business out of the country.

“We always have good support from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority by allowing companies to claim back the green investment tax allowance. However, we want to hit the local market first before we expand to the Asean region,” he said.

On the large-scale solar (LSS) project announced by the government last year, Yap explained that securing financing should not be a concern for the industry players as the financial prospect of the projects is relatively less substantial than projects in other industries.

“RM2 billion for the bank is a small business. We believe that if we can get the money circulated in the economy, it will have a modest yet significant and multiplied impact for other supporting industries within the solar industry,” he said.

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change had opened competitive bidding for an estimated RM2 billion worth of solar projects under the LSS3 scheme to increase electricity generation from RE.

Its Minister Yeo Bee Yin was quoted as saying that the bidding process would take place for six months from February to August 2019, with its outcome of the exercise expected by year-end.

Meanwhile, Asean Super 8, to be held at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre from March 19, will combine eight leading events within the construction, engineering, energy, heavy machinery and equipment, as well as security industries under one roof, in conjunction with the International Construction Week.

The three-day trade show will include the Asean Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Show, Tenaga Expo and Forum, Asean Solar Expo and Forum, Asean Lift, Asean Ecolight, Ecobuild South-East Asia, Heavy Mach and International Fire Security Exhibition and Conference Southeast Asia.

Organised by United Business Media (M) Sdn Bhd (UBM), Asean Super 8 will be exhibiting updates on the industry’s technologies from 500 local and global participating companies, including five pavilions from Germany, India, China, Singapore and Turkey.

UBM co-chairman Gen (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Azumi Mohamed said the mega event for the built environment is expected to generate RM500 million in sales from 20,000 visitors.

“The trade show will promote and stimulate further development and growth of the construction and built industry, especially in Malaysia,” he said.

Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia senior GM (business sector) Sariah Abdul Karib said the event will also address the common glitches in the industry such as payment issues, new project management system, as well as the outlook of the construction industry beyond 2020.