Solar for long-term efficiency, cost-saving investment

Solar solutions have become increasingly appealing as a means to reduce electricity expenses 


EMBRACING solar energy is not just a conscious effort toward an environmentally sustainable future, but also an energy-saving investment for homeowners and businesses to cut down on their electricity bills. 

From rooftop installations to sprawling solar farms, photovoltaic (PV) panels are revolutionising how we generate electricity, paving the way for a cleaner and more resilient future. 

Solarvest Holdings Bhd ED and group CEO Davis Chong Chun Shiong said the surge in solar adoption among individuals and corporations is driven by the awareness of the necessity for renewable energy (RE) to safeguard against potential tariff hikes. 

“With the government’s announcement of tariff increments and the rise in electricity costs in Malaysia, solar solutions have become increasingly appealing as a means to reduce electricity expenses,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR). 

However, as more people are adopting the solar system aiming for energy savings and stability in mind, the question is how homeowners can enjoy consistent electricity savings over a period of time. It is also understood that solar panels have a lifespan of at least 25 years. 

In response to that, he said depending on the size of the solar panel system and the amount of energy it produces, homeowners can attain monthly savings on energy bills of up to 90% and secure a long-term solution spanning 25 years. 

Long-Term Cost-Saving Solutions

“For example, our residential arm, Vestech Energy Sdn Bhd, has launched six EcoHome solar plans tailored for homeowners with electricity consumption needs between 4.5 kilowatt-peak (kWp) and 12.6kWp, or monthly electricity bills between RM300 to RM800. 

“These solar packages have a project cost ranging from RM22,000 to RM48,800. Each plan provides long-term cost-saving solutions with savings of up to 90% on electricity bills,” he said. 

Furthermore, a property that incorporates RE solution tends to increase its resale value and is viewed as more marketable and attractive to potential and appeal to conscious buyers. 

However, the cost of installing really varies depending on the type of solar panel, systems, residential unit size and the amount of energy users want to generate. 

Meanwhile, for corporate bodies, the adoption extends beyond just the substantial energy cost savings but also helps to regulate electricity expenses, reduce reliance on non-RE sources and imply a positive company image. 

“Looking at the government’s relaxation of allowable capacity conditions to up to 85% of maximum energy demand for medium voltage commercial and industrial (C&I), and residential users, it is also expected to result in substantial energy cost savings,” Chong added. 

He said businesses that accelerate solar transition benefit themselves in a way that maximises their corporate return on investment, actively contributing to the preservation of the environment, while simultaneously projecting an image of social responsibility and sustainability, thus amplifying corporate reputation. 

“For Solarvest, businesses are given an opportunity to adopt clean energy without the need for any initial capital outlays and provide flexible and budget-friendly solar solutions. We offer a selection of competitive financial models, tailored to fit corporate budgets and to maximise returns on RE investments,” he added. 

Govt Support 

Malaysia is moving in a clear direction in the clean energy transition along with the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) providing various incentives such as rebates, grants and low-interest loans to encourage the adoption of solar energy systems and also 

reduce the initial installation costs. Malaysia also plans to build Asean’s largest integrated solar PV plant while a new mechanism to be introduced for homeowners, that allows households to earn income by leasing out rooftops for solar panel installations.

As outlined by NETR and given the feasibility of solar energy in Malaysia, the introduction of Integrated RE Zone and Solar Park initiatives will not only boost the solar energy sector but also facilitate third-party access mechanism, driving energy market liberalisation and competition. 

“The open market will foster greater engagement from independent power producer investors, driving green innovation and ultimately benefiting consumers,” Chong said. 

The government’s vision is also to see solar panels installed nationwide, including atop homes, mosques, halls and factories. 

“Additionally, we applaud the decision to scale up the installation of solar systems in government buildings and the development of green townships,” he added. 

According to Chong, as a C&I player, the government has been supportive of fostering green investments within the business landscape and Solarvest is benefitting from the extension of the Green Investment Tax Allowance and Green Income Tax Exemption incentive period from three to five years until Dec 31, 2025. 

Among other initiatives that can foster solar growth is the provision of RM2 billion in financing from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to support green tech start-ups, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to implement low-carbon practices, as well as the Implementation of Green Technology Financing Scheme with an increased allocation of RM3 billion until 2025. 

“The government also increased allowable capacity for solar PV systems under the Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Self-Consumption for Solar PV Installation (SelCo) programmes from 75% to 85% of maximum demand,” he said. 

Nonetheless, for residential or corporates, installing the panel can be a complex and daunting process as a sizable initial investment is needed. 

Depending on the size of the solar panel system and the amount of energy it produces, homeowners can attain monthly savings on energy bills of up to 90% (pic: Bernama)

Therefore, aside from the private role in lowering the initial cost and to encourage more adoption of the solar power system, Chong said the government incentives are also essential to encourage the usage of solar in the residential segment. 

Users also need to consider the assessment aspect for the suitability of the rooftops, taking into consideration shading, rooftop area, restrictions on roof design and the structure of the roof to support the solar panels. 

“The intermittent nature of solar energy generation due to factors like varying weather conditions and night-time hours can affect consistent energy supply, necessitating effective energy storage solutions,” Chong said. 

In Malaysia, among the largest players in solar installation includes Solarvest, Plus Xnergy, Armani Energy Sdn Bhd, SOLS Energy Sdn Bhd and GSPARX Sdn Bhd, among others. 

As of 2020, Malaysia has a solar PV capacity of 1.5 gigawatts (GW), making it one of the largest solar markets in South-East Asia after Vietnam and Thailand. 

Meanwhile for Solarvest, as of March 2023, Chong said its total orderbook has reached RM550 million, with RM206 million attributed to both the residential and C&I segments, and he noted that consumers from Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Johor are ver y active in exploring clean energy solutions. 

“We have also received an encouraging response for Powervest as we have signed C&I projects totalling approximately 83.6 megawatt-peak through corporate power purchase agreements,” he said. 

Overall, installing a solar system aligns with both individual financial interests and broader environmental goals, making it a compelling choice for many people seeking a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. 

When considering the installation of solar panels, it is essential to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis based on the consumer’s specific circumstances, including energy consumption, local energy rates, available incentives and the size of the solar panel system. 

While the initial investment may seem significant, the long-term electricity cost savings and other financial benefits often make solar panel installation a wise and rewarding decision. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition