Malaysia: PV interest at an "all time high"

At conference presentations on the third-and-final day, one conference stream was entirely devoted to solar technology, markets and innovations. The sessions were declared a "full house" by organizers and demonstrated the growing awareness of, and interest in, solar.

Shamsudin Khalid, the president of the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association told pv magazine that interest in photovoltaics is at an "all time high of in Malaysia right now."

The organizers claim that 7,000 delegates and 6,500 visitors attended the show, which was held simultaneously with the Power Gen Asia conference and convention. As such, photovoltaic manufacturers like Trina Solar, LDK Solar and Sharp found themselves displaying their panels amongst fossil fuel and nuclear power generators.

FITs on their way

Amongst this diverse group, photovoltaic stalls attracted considerable attention. Part of this interest stems from the fact that renewable energy legislation has been passed by Malaysia’s parliament, which should see feed-in tariffs (FITs) introduced in December.

There is some uncertainty as to whether the FIT will be introduced on schedule, as it has already been delayed once. "We certainly hope it will meet this timeframe, of December. The industry is certainly waiting for it," said Khalid.

He does remain hopeful that even if there are delays, photovoltaics is on track to play a prominent role in the country’s renewable energy future. "Even if it spills over to the first quarter of next year, we are ok. Beyond six of 12 months it will be difficult for the industry to manage."

Grid parity approaching

During one of the conference presentations, a slightly different picture was painted. Roger Goh, an executive director at wafer manufacturer GCL, said that due to rapidly falling module prices, grid parity in places with good irradiation such as Malaysia, is imminent.

While describing the module and silicon wafer oversupply as being, "very, very bad" for manufacturers, he showed figures indicating that retail grid parity in many places in Asia would occur within three to five years. "Even in the east PV will be economically viable," he declared.