Panasonic looking to sell solar panel plant in Kulim

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic credit:

KNIGHT Frank Malaysia has been appointed by Panasonic Solar Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd as the exclusive marketing agent on the sale of its 63-acre (25.5ha) solar cell and panel production plant located in Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP).

Knight Frank Malaysia capital markets ED Allan Sim said the facility was completed in 2013 and is well-maintained and equipped with high electricity capacity, good floor loading and readily available nitrogen gas system which can be reconfigured for other uses.

“This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to immediately occupy and operate from the existing built facility, while having the flexibility to plan for future expansion on the remaining circa 30 acres of land that have yet to be developed,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Knight Frank Penang branch ED Mark Saw said the larger northern region — comprising Bayan Lepas, Prai and lately, Kulim and Batu Kawan — have attracted many electrical and electronics and high-tech industries, some of whom have established presence since the 1980s.

“Given there are not many sizeable plants available on the market, Panasonic’s plant presents a unique opportunity to either new entrants or existing manufacturing players to expand their footprints in this well-established ecosystem,” he said.

The 63-acre plant is located in the Industrial Zone Phase 2 of KHTP with an existing built facility that occupies half of the land, consisting of a single-storey factory annexed to a two-storey office building and other utilities building with a total build-up area of close to 70,000 sq m.

The plant was previously used to cater to the previous operation of solar module manufacturing, equipped with a state-of-the-art facility.

Panasonic reportedly planned to discontinue its solar photovoltaics (PV) manufacturing in both Malaysia and Japan by March 2022.

According to news reports, the firm quit the business due to fierce competition from China. Panasonic has been running the plant to produce wafers, cells and PV modules since December 2011, and abandoned a deal for the heterojunction solar cell and module production unit with GS-Solar China Co Ltd.

It might take a legal action against the Chinese firm in 2020.

Following the development, the company plans to sell its assets including the land property and building, as well as liquidate Panasonic Solar Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The KHTP was started in 1996 to cater to 13 high-technology industries such as semiconductors, medical instruments and other emerging technologies.

Based on a report by the Kedah state government, the total foreign direct investment in the park stood over RM20 billion in 2020.

The KHTP is currently in its fourth phase of expansion, has fewer than 20 acres of available land and is home to many multinational corporations such as Infineon Technologies AG, Intel Corp, First Solar Inc, Silterra and more.

Similarly, companies like Aspen Glove and Music Tribe have announced their entry into the park with plants currently under construction and slated for the third quarter (3Q) and 4Q of this year respectively.