Malaysia opens talks on 50 MW PV plant

Officials in Malaysia have opened talks on the creation of a 50 MW PV plant to be built in the northern state of Kedah which, if approved, would become the country’s largest PV installation.

Malaysia’s minister for energy, green technology and water, Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili, told local press last week that there have been a lot of PV proposals put forward from independent power producers for the project. He also confirmed that the plant would be a standalone installation and would not apply for any FIT incentives.

"There is one company that has proposed to build a 50 MW solar power plant in Kedah," he said during the opening of the AsiaWater Expo & Forum 2014. "The discussion is currently taking place between the company involved and state-owned energy company Tenaga Nasional Bhd." The minister would not confirm the name of the company involved, stating only that the Malaysian government would not issue a tender for the proposed project.

Local newspaper The Edge has suggested that state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd will be spearheading the project, although these claims remain unsubstantiated.

Malaysia’s FIT program was launched in 2011 in conjunction with a Solar Home Rooftop Program overseen by the country¬ís Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA). Since the introduction of the FIT, SEDA has approved more than 480 MW of PV capacity, yet official figures released in Septemnber last year revealed that only 118.8 MW has so far been connected to the grid.

SEDA’s rooftop program has fared equally poorly, connecting just 8.98 MW of the overall 24.43 MW approved to the grid. The authority has promised to launch a net-metering PV scheme this year in an effort to boost connection rates and solar power uptake across the country.

Earlier this month, however, there was an encouraging development in Malaysia’s PV production industry with the news that U.S. technology company GT Advanced Technologies is to supply $336 million worth of polysilicon to a Saudi-owned production facility in Sarawak.