Suntech announces 7.5 MW off-grid PV project in Malaysia

China’s Wuxi Suntech has announced this week it is to provide its high-efficiency solar PV panels for a 7.5 MW off-grid solar project across a spate of rural schools and villages in Malaysia.

As part of a program by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, titled the Rural Solar Hybrid Electricity Project for Villages and Schools in the Interior, Suntech will begin the first phase of the project shortly – a 960 kW installation serving three schools: SK Nanga Metah, SK Nanga Janan, and SK Sungai Tunoi.

In total, the final project will reach a combined capacity of 7.5 MW, creating a micro-grid system supplying 24-hour solar power to 20 surrounding villages.

"We have been working diligently with our partners Helios Photovoltaics and the Malaysian government for several years to launch this revolutionary project," said Suntech sales director for APMEA & China, Samuel Zhang "We’re using diesel generators and German battery packs to backup Suntech’s best-in-class PV modules in this system."

Zhang revealed how many locations in the region are only accessible via helicopter or boat, and the villages’ reliance on diesel generators for power has proved costly, polluting and unsafe. "These new micro-grids will help to significantly reduce diesel costs and cut 10,000 tons of C02 emissions per year, providing clean, reliable energy for the schools and villages in Sarawak," he added.

The scale of the development will make it one of the largest off-grid projects in the region, and will bring further solar capacity to a country that has developed into an important manufacturing hub for PV in the Asia. In late July, Chinese wafer manufacturer Comtec Solar Systems announced plans to double the capacity of a production facility the company is building, also in Sarawak, from 300 MW to 600 MW.

Earlier this year, GT Advanced Technology signed a $336 million polysilicon supply deal to a 25,000 metric ton polysilicon factory located in the area. And in March, Malaysia’s Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry announced plans for a 50 MW off-grid solar PV project in the region of Kedah, with local state-backed energy provider Tenaga Nasional Bhd thought to be instrumental in the project’s development.