On 7th December 2013, bloggers were invited by SEDA Malaysia to join a truly interesting field trip to Fortune 11 solar farm in Sepang, Selangor. The solar project is owned and developed by Fortune 11 Sdn. Bhd. and it is regarded as Malaysia’s first solar farm with single-axis system. The project prime contractor is SunEdison (MALAYSIA) Solar Engineering Sdn. Bhd. and it is a 5 MWp Single Axis tracker project in an area of 36 acres in an oil palm plantation under lease from Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn. Bhd. The project area is in the Sepang district of Selangor state in Malaysia under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme.
At this solar farm, solar photovoltaic (PV) modules are mounted on a tracker system that tracks the movement of the sun from sunrise to sunset. This tracking system can help maximise the generation of energy from the solar cells throughout the day as compared to the static solar PVs. For your information, photovoltaic (PV) literally means “light” and “electric”. Photovoltaic technologies are used to generate solar electricity by using solar cells packaged in photovoltaic modules. The most important components of a PV cell are the two layers of semiconductor material. When sunlight strikes the PV cells, the solar energy excites electrons that generate an electric voltage and current. Extremely thin wires running along the top layer of the PV cell carry these electrons to an electrical circuit.
A photovoltaic module is made of an assembly of solar cells wired in series to produce a desired voltage and current. The PV cells are encapsulated within glass and/or plastic to provide protection from the weather. PV modules are connected together to form an array and it is connected to an inverter which converts the Direct Current (DC) of the PV modules to Alternating Current (AC). As mentioned earlier, a solar tracker is fixed at a specific angle and moves from east to west as the sun moves across the sky during the day. The solar panel mounted onto such tracker will get maximum amount of sunlight and it will be able to generate a higher amount of energy.
Since the sun’s position in the sky varies with the season as well, it is possible to design a solar tracker to adjust the angle throughout the year so that solar light is always perpendicular to the surface. The area of shadow as the sun moves through the seasons will necessitate each tracker to be located farther apart so that the total land area required to install 1 MWp is much larger than of the fixed mount or single axis tracker. To keep it simple, imagine the solar panels moves according to the sun movement everyday in order to collect as much energy to be converted to electricity.
SunEdison uses many types of solar panels and the company selects the right technologies that provide most reliability and value. The “technology neutral” approach by SunEdison meets its’ customers’ financial, power production and facility needs because the tracker system harvests more energy than the fixed tilt project. Besides, SunEdison employs more than 100 workers during construction and about 20 direct employments during operations and maintenance stage. In addition, the company generates about 7615 MWhr of green energy annually with CO2 emission saving of about 5254350 kg per year. That amount is a lot and totally benefiting the community and our country in the long run. The location of the project in Sepang Selangor is also significant because the solar panels can be seen from the sky if you are in an airplane. This gives a message to visitors that Malaysia is moving towards green energy and therefore prepared to shift towards a better future.
SEDA Malaysia is fact the implementer of the Feed-in Tariff program for development of Renewable Energy in Malaysia. To understand the contribution of solar panels in generating alternative electricity, you must also recognize the role of SEDA Malaysia in implementing the Feed-in Tariff mechanism. Malaysia's Feed-in Tariff (FiT) system obligates the Distribution Licensees (DLs) such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad to buy from renewable energy producers the electricity produced from renewable resources (renewable energy). SEDA Malaysia also sets the FiT rates with approval from KeTTHA. Under the law the DLs will pay for renewable energy supplied to the electricity grid for a specific duration. By guaranteeing access to the grid and setting a favourable price per unit of renewable energy, the FiT mechanism would ensure that renewable energy becomes a viable and sound long-term investment for company industries and also for individuals.
The Cabinet has also agreed for the 1% surcharge on consumers’ electricity bills that has been gazetted and collected from consumers. This 1% surcharge is needed to achieve the target capacity of renewable energy in the long run. As of 2013, 1% surcharge is still imposed on all electricity customers and domestic electricity consumers are only obliged to contribute if their monthly electricity consumption exceeds 300 kWh or RM 77 a month. This money is channelled into the Renewable Energy Fund and administered by SEDA Malaysia to pay the premium Feed-in Tariff rate to those producers who generate electricity at homes or in industrial companies. But as of January 2014, this tariff will increase by 0.6% to be 1.6 % for current electricity users. This increase will also affect the consumers in Sabah and Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan as they are charged with 1.6% of their electricity bills for the first time. Please refer to www.seda.gov.my for more news and information.
Alright, that is all for today. I will continue my blog post about another field trip by SEDA Malaysia to the MPOB Palm Oil Mill Technology Center (POMTEC) in Labu Negeri Sembilan. I will provide another explanation about the role of biomass and biogas in producing alternative electricity and how it is done by a corporate sector. Take care and God bless, and use energy efficiently!