The project consist of an 8 MW capacity solar photovoltaic power generation plant, a 2-storey administrative and monitoring centre building, access and parameter roads come with drainage systems and 5 km underground cabling works to a utility(electricity) sub-station.
This project is a Renewable Energy (Solar Photovoltaic) Power generation plant licensed under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) mechanism of the Malaysian Renewable Energy Act 2011.
Key Points of the Project:
|Solar farm and 2-storey building land area:||14.16 acres|
|Number of solar panels:||29,092 units solar mono–crystalline type|
|Date of Project Approval by Local Authority:||15 August 2013|
|Date of Project Commencement:||1 October 2013|
|Date of Completion of Construction:||31 October 2013|
|Initial Operations Date of Solar PV power plant:||11 December 2014|
|Feed-in Tariff Commencement date (after full testing & commissioning):||23 December 2014|
Prior to commencement of construction works, a Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA) was signed between the owner/developer; Gading Kencana Sdn Bhd and the National Utility company ; Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB). This agreement ensures the purchase of power (electricity) generated by the solar plant by the TNB for a duration of 21 years (ending 22 December 2035) and maybe extended for a further period on mutual consent by both parties.
Details of Innovative Features of the project? How it differ from other similar projects?
- The contour of the land where the project is located was “bowl-shaped “ if a cross-section is made. The developer had to re-design the contour of the site by filling up the 30-meter deep valley, raising the altitude of the site to 43 meters above sea level. The innovation of the landscape allows controlled flow of rainwater to be channelled into a retention pond; preventing soil erosion and water ponding (which can lead to breeding of mosquitoes)
- The available land size for the placing of the solar panels is very much smaller than the world’s average size for solar farm required which is 1 MW to 5 acres of land. On calculation, this developer only has a ratio of 1MW to 1.5 acres of land. The innovative design of the system, arrangement of solar panels and placing of solar inverters made it possible for this to be achieved. Weather data, sun path data, wind and rain data were used to simulate the arrangement so that shadow casting on the solar panels’ surfaces is reduced to near-zero level. Any shadow cast on solar panel surfaces is not only harmful to the solar panels’ well-being, it would also reduce its efficiency to generate electricity.
- Most solar farms in the world are built on land surfaces that are flat; naturally or earthworks are carried out to make the land surface flat. For this solar farm, the developer has designed the surface to control the flow of rainwater to a retention pond through a network of drainage systems. The land surface slopes 10 degrees downward from 6 directions to the retention pond.
- The solar panels are also installed in an A-shaped mounting design. This design enabled the developer to fit in 29,092 panels onto a land area of 14.1 acres only instead of the 40 acres as per the average world standard. This design of the solar panel mounting also enables the wind to flow below the panels which cool the panel, which then increases its efficiency to generate electricity.
- The innovation resulted in savings on the costs of the project as follows:
- Land use savings by 58% totalling up to RM900,000/MW
- Balance of systems reduction by 10% amounting to RM250,000.
- During the Defect Liability period of 1 year, the solar farm has produced a 13% higher yield compared to what has been forecasted (using the conventional design) With the innovative design, the solar farm produces 11,510 MWh of electricity per year as compared to the forecasted 10,120MWh. Hence after negotiations with the authorities, the developer is able to sell more to the utility grid, increasing its yearly revenue.
- Unlike other solar photovoltaic power generation plants, the developer has built facilities in the monitoring and control building for visitor briefing, training and seminars. It even provides space for future solar exhibits to educate visitors on the technology. The said building is also built to achieve a Silver Certification under the Malaysian Green Building Index.
How has this project benefitted your institution?
This section is for SME Bank to complete
What is the contribution of your project to the environmental dimension of Sustainable development?
It is said that solar panels do add to carbon footprint to purchase a few solar panels, as solar panels manufacturing does add something to greenhouse gases. However, solar panels pay for themselves in just a few short years. In less than two years, solar panels are carbon negative, as the savings makes up for what it added to the atmosphere upon its creation. According to Home Power magazine, manufacturing a 100-watt solar panel produces about 960 pounds of CO2. But, in the 20-25 year life span of that solar panel, the offset is around 8,400 pounds of CO2.
For the solar farm project, the total carbon reduction is 136,729 tonnes.
The control and monitoring building uses bio-bricks made from 94% recycled materials and 100% regional materials. Recycle bins are placed at the building for the collection of waste paper, plastic and glass. This building was installed with a rainwater harvesting system with a 6,000 litres storage tank. This represents a 39% potable water reduction for irrigation
A 40KWp solar photovoltaic system was also installed on the roof of the building to generate green energy for the use of the building. The yield from this system is 51,400kWh/year. This represents 75% of the total building energy consumption per year.
A total of 414 trees were planted on the project grounds (254 units Tecoma trees, 150 units Kelat Paya trees and 10 palm trees). The trees were planted for cooling, soil erosion control and CO2 absorption. 1 tree seedling grown for 10 years ± 0.039 metric tons CO2 absorption. Therefore 414 trees grown for 20 years will absorb 31,512 tonnes of CO2.
What is the contribution of your project to the social dimension of sustainable development?
- During the construction of the solar farm project, 50 school leavers were chosen and trained with the skills for solar system installation. After the project completion, 2 are retained by the company for the Operations and maintenance of the solar farm. Others were employed by companies involved in solar system construction. The training has increased the chances of school leavers for employment.
- Vendor development programs were also implemented at this solar farm project. Electrical contractors registered with a GLC were and a state government were exposed to the business model for the development and construction of solar farms. 10 companies benefitted under this program and many more are in the pipeline.
- The solar farm has to date received around 1,000 visitors of all types, namely; 2 Deputy Ministers and their entourage, universities, Asian Development Bank delegates, Delegates from African nations and community leaders.
The visits by the Deputy Ministers were given wide publicity by the local media and enhanced awareness of the public on the importance of renewable energy projects and that such projects are feasible.
What is the contribution of your project to the economic dimension of sustainable development?
The overall economic contribution of this project is the catalyst effect of development, mainly from:
- Employment opportunity for locals
- Income to local government authorities
- Increase in value of surrounding properties
- Spurs up development of surrounding properties.
1. Employment opportunity for locals
The operations and maintenance of the solar farm project require many types of services from many suppliers and contractors. The developer/owner requires 8 personnel to fully man the operations. Cleaning contractors provide cleaning services for the building and its compound. Food and Beverage contractors also provide their services whenever the solar farm receives visitors. Security guard services to maintain the safety of the property on a round-the-clock basis. Also, the landscape contractors are hired for the upkeep of trees and grass of the property and the surrounding roads.
2. Income to Local Government Authorities
Being a newly incorporated Local Council; The Bandar Hijau Hang Tuah Jaya Town Council, Melaka, requires substantial funds to provide sufficient services and infrastructure to the occupants of the township. This solar farm project alone pays RM54,000 as Assessment Tax and RM63,000 land Tax per annum.
This project also provided the required 2 km access road and parameter roads along with other utility infra-structure which were then handed over to the local authorities on completion of construction. These facilities were worth about RM5 million at the time of completion in 2014.
3. Increase in value of surrounding properties
With the ready infra-structure to the area, property values rose which brings higher income to the Local authorities. At the beginning of the project in 2012, the land value was RM6.00 per sqft. But at the end of 2014, the land value rose to RM24.00 per sq. ft.
4. Spurs up development of surrounding properties
This solar farm project acts as a catalyst for other landowners to start the development of their land. A traditional village style inn was completed and in operation soon after along with seminar rooms and restaurants. The National SOCSO Rehabilitation Centre is also in full operations. A housing development is also underway; at its land clearing and earthworks stage.
If there are any environmental, social and economic benefits of your project beyond the borders of your country, please describe them in brief.
The business model of financing and development of Renewable Energy as showcased by this project has attracted delegates from Africa and the Middle East. Presentations by the owner/developer of the solar farm have opened up the minds of the delegates from various authorities and financial institutions of those countries that Renewable Energy projects are viable based on this company’s business model.
Many countries in Africa and the Middle East lack electricity supply especially for the rural and suburban areas and power blackouts are common. With the building of solar farms in the rural areas, supplying electricity is made easier and cheaper as transmission costs will be much reduced. This solar farm project has the capacity to supply electricity to 1,800 households.
This is the targeted size of development for rural and suburban communities and cottage industries in those countries.
Does your project have the potential of being a model for replication in other countries? If yes, please explain in brief the reasons for your project’s replicability.
The solar farm project is basically an independent power generation plant for a local area distribution of electricity or what is popularly known as a mini-grid. So for an area that is far from the existing grid supply, to get connection from the existing grid requires a high cost for transmission facilities to be built. A solar farm built in-situ in a new development area will not require the transmission of electricity from a distant source which is expensive.
The understanding and ability of financial institutions to finance solar farms based on the terms and conditions that were given for this solar farm project can also be replicated which results in a win-win situation for the solar farm developer, the financial institution and the benefitting communities.