Investment in solar energy, especially under the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff programme, is one way for SMEs to generate revenue while doing their bit for the environment, reports MEK ZHIN.
MANUFACTURERS are scrambling to get approval to install solar panels under the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) programme, with Feb 19 being the closing date to submit applications.
Under the FiT programme, successful applicants can feed photovoltaic solar-generated energy into the grid at attractive rates of up to RM1.2124 per kWh — three times higher than consumer rates which average at 37 sen per kWh.
The rates are guaranteed for 21 years, with applicants generally breaking even between five and six years.
The allocations are disbursed in batches, and vary according to targets in the Renewable Energy Act 2011.
In this current batch, businesses with systems under 425kW will be applying for a limited quota offering.
The programme is managed by the Government’s Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda).
The idea of harnessing solar energy for profit is attractive for many manufacturers in Malaysia, whose factory roofs are often bare and exposed to direct sunlight.
“My factory has over 70,000sqm of unused roof space anyway. It makes sense to fill it with solar panels. It can generate over RM150,000 per month, and cover the cost of my initial investment in about six years,” says Matahari Kencana managing director Lim Chi Haur.
Lim was one of various manufacturers and business owners who attended “Expert talk: Is putting solar panels on your roof REALLY a good idea?”, an event held by Able Energy to brief business owners on the benefits, risks and opportunities of placing solar panels on their roofs.
Able Energy is a Seda-accredited company that has designed, supplied and installed renewable energy solutions in Malaysia since 2001.
“For many businesses, a solar photovoltaic (PV) investment is just about the safest investment you can make,” says Able Energy director Ralph Krättli.
“It’s even safer than investing in a fixed deposit or unit trust as a high return is practically guaranteed,” he points out, adding that it is important for businesses to select a professional and accredited company to carry out installation.
According to Krättli, currently there are more individuals than companies installing solar PV systems, but in terms of electricity-producing capacity, companies are way ahead of individuals.
“The solar PV industry is also a fast-changing and constantly improving one. As for the price, the cost for such a system has been dropping over the last few years,” he says.
Moreover, solar PV systems require minimal maintenance.
Among the benefits of the system are the long warranty, scalable technology, the fact that it’s not location-constrictive and its propensity to increase a building’s value.
Krättli says the cost of installing a 24kWp on a 185.8sqm (2,000sqft) roof area is about RM172,800.00, with the payback period estimated at less than six years.
Such a system has the potential to generate a total of RM607,269.00 revenue over 21 years through the FiT programme.
The talk took place at The Castello Energy Centre, the company’s flagship concept headquarters in Puchong.
Creatively designed as a castle, the eye-catching building is completely energy-efficient and uses around 40% less energy than other buildings of equivalent size.
Its curved double-cavity walls, the use of calcium silicate bricks, double-paned tinted windows, as well as the use of a solar PV system and other planned structural and design improvements, all contribute to the building’s energy-efficiency.