Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Now you and I can also be an independent power producer

Do we have enough quota??? Or the quota already dried out??


Tuesday December 13, 2011

Now you and I can also be an independent power producer

Households as clean, sustainable electricity producers?
In the mid-1990s, there were only “big” boys in electricity generation such as YTL Corp, Genting Sanyen and Malakoff. They were popularly known as Independent Power producers' or IPPs and were looked upon with envy as it was alleged that they were making big bucks because of relatively high rates they received from TNB.
Fast forward 15 years. Now you and I can also be an IPP (the term “clean and sustainable electricity producer” is preferred) albeit a very much smaller one but with a difference.
Any owner of a link, semi-detached or bungalow house can now be, subject to approval, a small clean and sustainable energy producer by generating green electricity (as opposed to fossil-fuelled electricity by the big IPPs) and distribution licensee (such as TNB) is obliged to purchase it. What all this means is that if you have a solar photovoltaic (PV) generator at home, you can apply to connect this generator to the grid, and get paid for selling the electricity generated to TNB over the next 21 years.
Solar energy is clean, environmentally friendly and has zero emissions. There is no depletion of natural resources and it is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world.
And yes the rates are very attractive for generating electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology; it is about four times the normal domestic TNB electricity rates (at RM0.40 per kWh). All you have to do is simply to apply and obtain a feed-in approval from the newly-established Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (Seda Malaysia), sign a renewable energy power purchase agreement (REPPA) with TNB and install the solar PV system on your rooftop.
On the average, the bungalow is able to produce about 1,000 kWh of electricity per month (based on 10kW installed PV capacity). Given this, the owner may earn about RM1,200 per month (based on FiT rate RM1.20 per kWh if the PV system is commissioned by 2012) and recoup his investment within eight to nine years. The earnings may be even higher if the house owner meets other bonus criteria such as installing as a building-integrated PV system. The current cost of 1 kW solar PV system ranges from RM12,000 to RM14,000.
The interesting thing is that for your average household needs, you purchase the electricity from TNB at between RM0.33 to 42.6 per kWh but when you produce the clean electricity, you can sell it at between RM1.20 to RM1.70 per kWh depending on the installed capacity and the qualifying bonus criteria for solar PV.
The longer the sun shines, the more one can “export” electricity to the national grid during daylight hours (when power is urgently needed) and earn income. The downside and risk is that during cloudy days, the income can be reduced significantly when the sun is not shining. If you apply now, you can lock in these premium rates for the next 21 years!
Unlike the huge IPPs which use natural gas or coal as feedstock to generate electricity, the household does not need to pay for any raw material or fuel because sunshine is free. For as long as the sun is shining, the solar PV panels will generate electricity. Another advantage of solar power is that no extra space is required because the panels can be installed on the rooftop. (Suddenly rooftops have income potential. Many factory owners are now contemplating installing solar PV panels on their rooftop to earn extra revenue while others are approaching factory owners to rent them their roofs.)
On Dec 1 2011, Seda Malaysia invited the public including households, small and not-so-big IPPs (maximum size is 30 MW but only 5 MWp rated capacity for solar PV) to apply and book the amount of green electricity they intended to produce to sell it to the distribution licensee. There are fixed quotas for each of the four renewable energy sources namely biomass (including solid waste), biogas (including landfill), small hydro and solar PV. There was overwhelming response to solar PV especially for the non-individuals.
The good news is that bookings are still open for individuals and households intending to install solar PV systems as there is still available capacity for this category. As at Dec 7, Seda reported that the total unfulfilled quota for solar PV is 6,650 kW; 1,650 kW to be commissioned by the first half 2013, 2500 kW each for second half of 2013 and first half of 2014.
Translating these figures into households, it would mean that about 665 bungalow owners can avail themselves to the remaining capacity (assuming their average capacity is 10 kW). If all of the remaining capacity is taken up by semi-detached owners, the number will increase to 1,330 assuming their installed PV capacity is 5 kW. The figure for typical link houses, assuming an installed capacity of 3 kW, is 2,217 households.
The price guarantee for 21 years has been made possible by the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme implemented by Seda Malaysia. This scheme will be financed by the newly-established Renewable Energy (RE) Fund, to which all electricity users (except for those domestic customers consuming less than 300 kWh per month) will be required to contribute an additional 1% of their electricity bill.
House-owners who do not participate in solar PV electricity generation should not begrudge the payment of the additional 1%. Instead they should view it as one of their contributions to a cleaner and healthier environment. This is their social contribution for cleaner air. The public and community must also share in undertaking this heavy responsibility with the Government.
Dr Pola Singh is a board member of the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda), Malaysia. The views expressed are his own. The public can apply for the feed-in approval via efit.seda.gov.my and more information can be obtained from Seda's official portal at www.seda.gov.my

Friday, November 18, 2011

Panasonic to build solar panel plant in M'sia reports Nikkei

I'm thinking, do we go for higher income economy or still doing fabs and assembly jobs??  Wondering???


Thestar: Published: Friday November 18, 2011 MYT 7:38:00 AM

TOKYO: Panasonic Corp will invest 50 billion yen ($645 million) to build a solar panel plant in Malaysia, to bolster output by a third to 900,000 kilowatts, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The plant, which will open in 2012, will be its first full-range production facility outside Japan that will make silicon wafers and complete final assembly of panels, the Nikkei said.

By building panels overseas the Japanese company is aiming to remain competitive as a strong yen at home pushes up production costs, the paper said

Panasonic, which has been touting environmental and energy technology as key growth areas, in October dropped a plan to convert a television plant into a solar power factory because of the strong yen and an industry price war. ($1 = 76.985 Japanese Yen)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solar Cell - Red and Blue??

Interesting quote from below article "That means every single cell on a manufacturing line can be assessed and then sorted into bins so the cells that respond best to, say, red or blue are kept together on the same solar module. That way, a mismatched blue-response cell on a module won't put the brakes on all the work the red-response cells are doing. And that means more efficient conversion of photons into electricity at sunrise and sunset when the red wavelengths predominate."


NREL invention speeds solar cell quality tests

July 12, 2011 By Bill Scanlon


Inside the FlashQE, developed at NREL, light from light-emitting diodes is focused onto a solar cell. Credit: Dennis Schroeder

To come up with a way to do something 1,000 times faster than it had been done in the past, you have to count on some serendipity -- not to mention hard work, collaboration and good timing.

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Such was the case with three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who somewhat accidentally developed a way to assess the quality of solar cells at a speed that is orders of magnitude faster than had been done before.

The instrument, Real-time QE, licensed and embellished by Tau Science Corp. as FlashQE, uses light-emitting diodes, high-speed electronics and mathematical algorithms to measure the quantum efficiency of solar cells up to 1,000 times faster than had been done before. The technology won a 2011 R&D 100 Award, as one of the year's most significant innovations.

What used to take 20 minutes — and therefore could be done only with random samples of cells — now can be done in a second. That means every single cell on a manufacturing line can be assessed and then sorted into bins so the cells that respond best to, say, red or blue are kept together on the same solar module. That way, a mismatched blue-response cell on a module won't put the brakes on all the work the red-response cells are doing. And that means more efficient conversion of photons into electricity at sunrise and sunset when the red wavelengths predominate.

Speed Means Putting Every Cell to the Test

Quantum-efficiency measurements indicate how well a solar cell converts the various wavelengths of sunlight into electricity. More precisely, QE is the ratio of the number of light-generated charge carriers collected by a solar cell to the number of photons of a given energy that are shining on the solar cell.

Today's solar cell manufacturing lines test each cell to determine useful cell parameters such as how much current and voltage is generated. But those tests give no information about how the cell responds to each color of light in the solar spectrum.

Flash QE's ability to also test for each cell's response to color allows crucial extra information to be fed back into the production line. It does it so fast, that cells of the same current and the same response to particular colors can be sorted into particular bins. From these sorted bins, spectrally matched modules can be made to optimize the energy produced throughout a day.

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Traditionally, determining how a single cell responds to different wavelengths of light has taken 20 minutes so only about one in 1,000 cells are plucked from the manufacturing process for that extra test.

Flash QE, though, has the speed to supply that extra rich information for every cell.

It likely will mean significant jumps in the efficiency values of future solar modules and arrays that power the fast-growing solar industry as well as much better manufacturing line diagnostics.

FlashQE comes on the market at a time when solar manufacturers are working to weed out any profit-robbing costs from their production lines, boost the conversion efficiencies of solar cells, and move toward the U.S. Department of Energy cost goals established within the "SunShot" initiative.

Insights, Timing and Serendipity

It started in some small labs in NREL's Science and Technology Facility.

"I almost forget what we were originally looking for," principal investigator David Young said, recalling the time seven years ago when he was examining how different wavelengths of light penetrated to different depths in a solar cell. "We just wanted to come up with a real simple way of shining light of different colors."

Enter Brian Egaas, who worked close by and was doing work on quantum efficiency.

"We started looking at LEDs as the source of light, and I remember coming into the lab one day and saying, 'There are enough LEDs now that we can probably get every color of the rainbow,'" Egaas said.

But this work wasn't an official project. So, they went to their group leader, Rommel Noufi, who saw enough promise that he agreed to let them have $1,000 to buy some LEDs.

Egaas found a mom-and-pop shop in Vienna, Austria, that would supply them with LEDs that spanned the solar spectrum — and let them buy just a couple of each color, rather than the hundreds that are bundled together from larger suppliers.

The timing was fortuitous. LEDs spanning the solar cell spectrum wouldn't have been available a year or two earlier, and the computing power to gather all the information needed in parallel wouldn't have been available much earlier than that either.

"This invention came about at the time when it first could come about," Young said. "When enough LEDs were just coming onto the market, and when we had enough high-speed computer capability to get all that data coming out of the cells."

"We mocked it up, and turned on one LED at a time, to make the measurements," Egaas said.

"But there was just too much noise in the quantum efficiency measurement," Young said. "Brian had the whole thing rigged up, and we tried to pick up the speed of each individual measurement, but it was still taking 20 minutes or so to characterize each cell."

Operate it Like the Human Brain

Enter Pauls Stradins, who had a lab in the same corridor, and was keeping a casual eye on progress by Young and Egaas.

"Pauls walks through our lab one day and says, 'Do you realize you can run all those lights at the same time at different frequencies?'" Young recalled.

"When he said that, the light just kind of went on," Young said. "We all realized, 'Oh, yeah, that's the way to do it.'"

"I'd been reading a book on how the brain works," Stradins recalled.

"The brain has many similarities with a computer, but whereas a computer does most things sequentially, the brain has a huge number of parallel channels," Stradins said. "When an image comes in, it doesn't process it 'one pixel, two pixels, three pixels,' it processes it instantly — in parallel."

Applying the brain's parallel approach to the challenge ahead of them — gathering quantum efficiency data from solar cells with a spectrum of encoded LED light colors — proved to be the key.

"We knew there were these mathematical things you can do to filter the processes in real time," Stradins said. "Because computers have so much memory now, we could probably just download a whole chunk for one second and get about a million points."

By arranging for each LED to blink at a different frequency, they could determine how each solar cell generated current in response to certain colors.

"We arranged it so we could take our test cell and run it against a pre-calibrated cell and learn the quantum efficiency of it," Stradins said.

"It was a true collaboration," Egaas said. "There were pieces that everybody had that needed to come together."

Over the next few years, they brought in summer interns to work on a prototype 10-LED device "held together by tape," Young said.

Transferring the Technology to Private Industry

Just in time for a scientific conference, they got the first data that proved that rich quantum efficiency information could be gathered almost instantaneously from a solar cell. Young gave a talk on the instrument at an IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in San Diego. He realized many in the solar industry were intrigued by the promise of a fast quantum-efficiency tool for analyzing solar cells in the lab and on the manufacturing floor.

The first commercial interest in the product came serendipitously. After being alerted by a colleague that a start-up company was touring NREL trolling for new ideas to market, Young had 10 minutes to write up some notes, then "I gave four guys from Tau Science my off-the-cuff elevator speech."

"They just got it right like that," Young said. "They knew the solar market would eat up a fast QE system.

"They licensed the product and now are selling it."

Tau Science made significant improvements to the instrument, patenting their own ideas for LED optics and handling the vast amount of parallel processed data needed for the technique.

"It's been a great collaboration," Tau Science president Jamie Hudson, said, adding that co-founder Greg Horner got to know NREL while he did some post-doc work here.

"Quantum efficiency is an extremely fundamental technique in solar cells, and this is the first time it's been able to be done at speeds to keep up with the line," Hudson said. "It tells you the spectral response of the solar cell and also a lot of information about the front and back surfaces. You're able to look at every sample rather than just one out of 1,000."

Tau Science'sfirst shipment of Flash QE was in early 2011 to Oregon State University, which will use it in its pilot solar-cell production facility.

Fast-blinking LEDs Illuminate the Cells in Parallel

The FlashQE system uses an electronically controlled full-spectrum light source composed of an array of LEDs. Each LED emits a different wavelength of light. The LEDs illuminate the cell simultaneously, rather than the serial approach of a conventional system. The key to the technology is that all the LEDs are flashed on and off at different frequencies thereby encoding their particular response in the solar cell. High-speed electronics and mathematics cleverly extract the encoded information to reveal a full-spectrum quantum efficiency graph of the cell. A wide variety of information is gathered in less than a second — information about the ability of the front surface of the cell to absorb high-frequency light, the quality of thin-film surface coatings, the ability of the middle region of a cell to absorb a wide range of wavelengths, how well the back surface absorbs lower-energy light, the ability of the back surface to collect electrons.

For multi-junction cells, Flash QE can detect how each of the layers performs by using the light source itself to "electronically filter" the light to only measure the response of the cell of interest.

Instant Feedback is a Competitive Edge

Flash QE is the quickest diagnostic tool for the quantum efficiency of solar cells, yielding both a voltage current curve showing the amount of power, and a spectral response gauge, diagnosing how the cells respond to different wavelengths of light.

Manufacturers can get a whole new insight into each of their cells, determining, for example, why they're not getting good responses from their reds.

Or Flash QE can detect that the blue response is slowly getting worse and worse — in real time, soon enough to alert workers that an adjustment must be made to the line.

Flash QE works for silicon cells, and also for multijunction cells that use stacks of materials such as gallium and indium. "With Flash QE, you can look at the individual responses of each of the layers," Young said.

"It's fast enough to do spatial measurement mapping across the cell," Egaas said. "Is the response the same on the edges as it is in the middle? Is there a cooling problem that makes the edge different? They can learn that they have to cool it more slowly, change the process based on the results."

Like Baking with Constant Vigilance

It's like baking bread, Stradins said. Automated bakeries can produce good bread if the parameters are extremely tight, but if anything goes wrong, a huge batch gets wasted.

The family baker, able to take frequent peaks inside the oven, has better quality control. That feedback, with bread or with solar cells, is a powerful tool.

NREL's LED light source also is a stand-alone invention that could be licensed by another company for probing things other than solar cells, ranging from counterfeit bills to skin cancer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Do Energy Enough for 9 Billion People?????

Plan, Act Now! Do renewable energy (REN) policy with scarce fit budget will drive future sustainable energy??? 

Do government and its GLCs taught for future growth or just short terms KPIs for own sake only?? Who cares???

To be green... do vote for green..


Thestar: Wednesday November 16, 2011

Nine billion reasons to address the world’s energy challenge now

ON Oct 31, our world reached a significant milestone: Somewhere, most likely in Asia, a mother gave birth to Earth's 7 billionth inhabitant, the United Nations estimates.
At this rate, Earth will be home to more than 9 billion people by 2050 a number with enormous potential impact on global demand for energy, water and food.
Planning wisely for their future energy needs is one of the most important challenges our generation faces. It is challenging, in part, because the issues and solutions cross traditional political, geographic and industry boundaries.
Indeed, we face far more than just an energy issue. Our future energy challenge is a global security issue, an environmental issue, an economic and jobs issue.
Our global energy system already is in the early stages of a fundamental transformation. The future will see expanded use of renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuels. We will have more energy choices, but those choices will be more costly, so we will all have to become smarter about using energy efficiently.
Despite the enormity of the challenge, I'm confident human ingenuity and technological innovation can make it happen. What's lacking today is the common will to act. Getting where we need to go will require a new level of leadership and global collaboration on multiple fronts.
But the leadership triangle of government, business and society is increasingly ineffective. We need to rekindle the spirit of global cooperation and leadership that was evident in dealing with past challenges.
Simply put, our challenge is to produce far more energy for a world with far more people. At the same time, we need to reduce CO emissions and get smarter about how we extract and use our resources. And we will need to do this against a backdrop of almost constant volatility and change.
A big part of a broader global energy mix will be the rapidly expanding contribution of renewable energy resources. We think up to 30% of the world's energy mix could come from renewables by 2050. But that target assumes a very rapid growth rate; it will require significant effort and sustained investment.
Even if the world gets there, all forms of energy will need to be developed to meet future demand.
Among fossil fuels, natural gas will play an increasingly important role. It is the cleanest-burning and the best ally of wind and solar power, which need a highly flexible backup supply when the wind stops or the sun goes down.
Gas also is an ideal alternative to coal-fired power plants, emitting 50% to 70% less CO. Replacing coal with gas to produce electricity is, by far, the fastest and least expensive way for the world to reduce CO emissions in the energy sector. Gas is affordable, its resource base is vast and widely dispersed, and it can help diversify energy supplies all of which enhances energy security.
At Shell, we spend considerable time and energy to identify and understand how emerging trends will affect the global energy system. Recently, we have focused on understanding the ways in which water, energy and food are interconnected. Water is used to produce nearly all forms of energy, energy is used to move and treat water, and energy and water are used to produce food.
There's a growing awareness that the path to a more sustainable energy future will require society to balance the needs of these systems by thoroughly understanding how they relate to one another. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of carbon emissions and other resource stresses.
So Shell has brought together specialists from various fields to map the links and better understand the trade-offs. It is a tremendous undertaking.
Our early findings have identified two important factors that could help avoid a future water-energy-food crisis: “smart” urban development and greenhouse gas regulation and pricing.
Cities today hold half of the world's population and generate up to 80% of its CO emissions. The proportion of people in cities is expected to grow to 75% by 2050. So, the way in which our cities develop will greatly affect energy and water demand.
“Smart” cities technology holds tremendous opportunity, through more efficient public transport, energy-efficient buildings and designs that utilise waste heat and efficient energy sources. By investing heavily to upgrade our infrastructure, we can offset some of the growth in energy demand while creating new jobs.
Fortunately, we already have the tools and knowledge to address this issue.
What's still urgently needed is a global consensus on greenhouse gas regulation and pricing.
Shell already factors in a price for CO when making major investment decisions. If a project does not make sense when that price is factored in, it does not move forward. But widespread adoption of the most cost-effective CO reduction measures will only occur when governments promote frameworks to price CO.
This brings us back to the need for leadership and global collaboration.
The absence of coherent energy policies among some of our largest energy-consuming nations and regions is a direct result of the lack of leadership and, more broadly, a troubling lack of basic trust between business, government and society.
Government has an important role in setting the rules, in spurring investment in new technologies that may not see a payoff for many years, such as carbon capture and storage. Rather than choose winners and losers, government should set the end goals, then provide appropriate incentives that let the market determine the most effective solutions.
With effective rules in place, business can harness its immense resource of human talent and creativity to apply innovation, technology and investment capital to the challenge.
I'm optimistic we will address this challenge, despite the difficulties. Past examples of global leadership should give us hope. The coordinated response to the 2008 financial crisis is one. The international agreement to ban substances blamed for depleting the ozone layer is another.
Today we have a major opportunity to address this challenge in a way that avoids unnecessary pain in the future. Let's not waste it.
Peter Voser is Royal Dutch Shell chief executive officer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SEDA NEWS: FiT - Road to renewable???

Malaysia Aims to Kick Start Renewable Sector with New FiT
PUTRAJAYA, NOVEMBER 1 (The Recharge News) -- A new feed-in tariff (FIT) system due come into effect on 1 December will drive the take-up of renewable energy in Malaysia, and at the same time help the country meet burgeoning energy demand, its energy minister says.
Dato Sri Peter Chin, minister for energy, green technology and water resources, says Malaysia’s sophisticated FIT mechanism – applying to biomass, biogas, small-scale hydro and solar – aims to reward individuals, businesses and communities investing in renewable energy.
The tariff system will cover a range of quotas for 2012 to 2014. From next year 282MW will be covered by the scheme; in 2013, 262MW will be covered and 2014’s quota will rise to 304MW.
Chin admits Malaysia has failed to get behind renewable-energy generation over the past decade.
“In the ten years since the implementation of [the Fifth Fuel Policy], we found out the high cost of generation which makes it unattractive for utility companies to buy renewable energy from renewable energy generators,” he tells the Clean Energy Expo conference in Singapore.
“Our subsidy on fossil fuels adds to the problem because the utility companies will always favour the least cost option in dispatching the power required,” he adds.
This has created an “uneven playing field” and is reflected in the “dismal achievement” where by the end of 2010 only 63MW has been successfully connected, which is only 18% of the 350MW target that was set under the Ninth Malaysian Plan (2005-2010), he says.
“The time is right for the government o consider renewable energy to play a significant role for future power generation,” Chin says.
He says the government has also allocated 300m ringgit ($96.4m) as the initial start for the Renewable Energy Fund.
“My ultimate hope is that Malaysia will become one of the leaders within the ASEAN region with our systematic and structured approach for renewable energy development in the country,” Chin says.
The country’s domestic electricity utility, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, has forecast an increase in electricity growth of 6.5% in 2011, versus 2010, driven by commercial and business customers.
The country’s power planning requires 10.8GW of new generation by 2020 and at the same time about 7.7GW of existing generation capacity will need to be retired. By 2020, total installed capacity is predicted to increase by 16% from 2011 levels.
RE Quota In many countries where the FiT system is implemented, caps on RE installed capacities are highly discouraged as these caps limit RE growth and constrain its impact. The avoidance of such caps is possible in countries where electricity tariff is deregulated. However, in a regulated electricity market such as in Malaysia, the funding source for FiT is limited to a fixed percentage imposed on the utility’s electricity revenue. Therefore, caps are essential to ensure that there will be adequate funds to make the FiT payments to RE generators. Once the electricity market in Malaysia is deregulated, or when FiT has been operating for a considerable period of time, then removal of the caps may be possible.

Capping is achieved by putting a capacity limit or quota for new feed-in approvals in respect of each renewable resource for 6-month windows over the next 3 years. The reason for the 6-month window frame is to limit the waiting period for the next available set of quotas to a maximum of 6 months.
Recap figure: (Allocation Availability????)
Available MW installed
PV capacity for FiT Application 2011 / 2012 2013 2014
H1 H2 H1 H2 H1 H2
Individual (≤ 1 MW) 3.50 3.50 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00
Non-individual (≤ 1 MW) 3.50 3.50 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00
Non-individual (> 1MW) 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00

Monday, November 7, 2011

If Energy Crisis Occur, What alternative do we have???

Thestar: Saturday November 5, 2011

Gas shortage may affect TNB in the long term



TENAGA Nasional Bhd's (TNB) deteriorating cash position, arising from the gas shortage situation, has raised concerns over a possible impact on the RM26bil worth of bonds issued by the independent power producers (IPPs).

In the short term, there may not be much impact as the IPPs enjoy “iron-clad'' contracts with TNB. However, over the long term, there could be delays or other requests that could affect the payment stream to the IPPs.

Financing of the power purchase agreements of IPPs may be in jeopardy especially if banks scrutinise the financial position of TNB, the paymaster. If the gas shortage situation worsens, and TNB has to keep buying distillates, banks will eventually pore through TNB's cash position more closely. Worse still, if TNB issues bonds which is long-term debt to fund operating costs, the mismatch may be a concern.

Risk to IPPs

In terms of default, there is hardly any risk, says an analyst from Maybank Investment Bank (IB) Research.

“Their bonds are iron clad. Under their contracts, they will still receive contractual payments, irrespective of whether there is enough gas or the amount of power generated,'' he says.

Chong: ‘The debt ratings of IPPs are generally capped by TNB’s rating.’

But there will be impact on the financial covenant in terms of how much profit they will make to repay the bonds.

Known as the interest cover and debt service coverage ratio, this amount may be reduced in view of the current gas shortage problem, and therefore may pose a slightly higher risk to the IPPs which then may have to pay higher interest rates on their bonds.

Among the IPPs, only YTL Power enjoys fixed payments; the others receive their payments in two tranches a fixed entitlement and variable earnings depending on the amount generated.

“For the next six to eight months, there will be no impact on rating of IPPs.

“After that, if there is no resolution of the gas shortage situation, it might trigger credit concerns,” says Sandeep Bhattacharya, vice-president of ratings, Malaysian Rating Corp (MARC).

The ratings for IPPs are capped by TNB's credit profile; if TNB's credit rating comes down, it may likely have a domino effect on IPP ratings.

The capacity payments may still be made but there could be delays or even requests for cuts, the latter of which I don't think will happen,” says an analyst.

RAM Ratings head of infrastructure and utilities ratings Chong Van Nee says: “The debt ratings of IPPs are generally capped by TNB's rating. That said, any downward rating adjustment for TNB will not necessarily change the IPPs' debt ratings.”

“It must be noted that the debt ratings of IPPs take into consideration several factors other than TNB's credit strength such as the IPP's level of debt servicing ability, the relevant financial covenants, regulatory developments, single site risk and other factors unique to the respective IPP,” Chong adds.

Chris Eng, director at OSK Research, doubts if the gas supply shortage issue will cause too much damage to first generation IPPs which enjoys higher capacity charge rate.

Higher risk on TNB's debt rating

The Maybank IB analyst reckons that if there is no resolution to the problem over the next 12 months, there is a high possibility that TNB's rating may come down.

“Rating agencies typically do annual revisions and periodic assessments,” he says. “In the case of annual reviews, they will look at what happened in the past 12 months and what can possibly happen over the next 12 months.”

In its latest report, Maybank IB Research estimates that TNB can only sustain for four to five quarters at the current rate it is generating power from the more expensive oil and distillates.

“TNB has incurred a cash burn of RM4.386bil in financial year (FY) 2011, reducing its cash balance to only RM3.954bil.

Sandeep: ‘If there is no resolution of the gas shortage situation, it might trigger credit concerns.’

“Should the natural gas supply curtailment persist at the rate experienced in the fourth quarter of FY11 (867 million std cu ft per day mmscfd and power demand of 11,883 GW per hour), we estimate it will take four to five quarters before TNB fully depletes its cash reserves,” the report says.

Moreover, TNB needs to make 10% to 20% upfront payment for its capacity expansion projects, and this comes from its cash reserves.

Alex Goh, senior analyst at AmResearch, is confident the Government will step in to save the national utility.

“It cannot afford to just do nothing,” he says. “It is an economic and security concern.”

“TNB's net gearing now is 0.4 times compared with two times back in 2002/03. It was much higher then but there was no downgrade. TNB is largely owned by government investment bodies and tariffs are controlled by the Government whose duty is to ensure a stable supply of power,” an analyst with a bank-backed brokerage says.

Chong of RAM Ratings says: “We are aware that TNB's financial position is currently affected by the gas supply curtailment issue and this is expected to continue to plague TNB for its next two financial quarters.”

By then, she expects the gas curtailment to be resolved once the regasification terminal in Malacca comes onstream.

“RAM Ratings will continue to monitor the extent of this situation and its consequent impact on TNB's credit profile,” she says.

TNB's debt issue is rated triple A (with stable outlook) by RAM Ratings, reflecting its position as Malaysia's national electricity company with a near-monopoly over the transmission and distribution of electricity across Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

TNB also plays a crucial role as the sole offtaker for the generating capacity and electrical energy produced by all the IPPs in Peninsular Malaysia.

“In view of the strategic nature of TNB's role as Malaysia's national electricity company, it enjoys strong implicit support from the Government, that is, its major shareholder,” she says.

Sandeep of MARC says the rating agency is monitoring the measures taken to address the gas shortage problem and the related cash depletion.

Options for TNB

“It is possible that TNB is in negotiations with the Government which needs to keep TNB, its monopoly in utilities, in good shape,” says an analyst. “We need to wait six to eight months for an idea of the measures to be undertaken to solve the problem.”

“It is premature to judge based on one event,” Sandeep says. But analysts do say that seen in isolation, TNB's credit profile appears to be in jeopardy. But viewed against the measures to be undertaken especially by the Government, a different picture might emerge.

The most obvious solution is for the Government to step in and provide a long-term loan to TNB.

But analysts are playing down the prospects of a cash injection at this juncture as TNB is a corporate entity and there should be some accountability in terms of managing the company.

“This (the gas supply shortage issue) is something out of TNB's control, and it is not that they are losing money on operations,” he adds.

“It is a handicapped situation,” says the analyst from Maybank IB Research. “It is beyond TNB's ability to do anything and it has no choice but to absorb the cost.

“The Government must come in to solve the problem, seeing that the proposal for cost-sharing is not working,” he adds.

Eng of OSK Research says: “While the gas issue should be less critical in 2012 with Bekok coming onstream and the maintenance of gas platforms coming to an end, there will still be a shortage of gas which is unfair to TNB.”

“Compensation from Petronas or the Government is the right way to proceed. TNB should not have to raise cash via a rights issue which will be unfair to its shareholders.”

Analysts and debt market players note that given the market situation, TNB's financial flexibility seems to be high. “This is an industry issue,” says a bond expert. “I have dealt with TNB for the past 15-20 years and note that it is a well-managed company. In fact, at one time, they were able to bring down their debt levels drastically. The market is flush with liquidity. If TNB wants me to raise cash for them, I would be willing to do so.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gas Shortages... What alternative do we have?

Are we ready? Our renewable energy still far behind from ability to support electricity shortages in near term. So what is Malaysia plan now??? Green gas effect policy or  energy crisis action plan? Yesterday I see, Today I don't, Tomorrow....??? TNB Nuclear game play.... errrr!!!


Thestar: Tuesday November 1, 2011

Letter to the PM on gas shortage


TNB and IPPs have come together to highlight the urgency of gas shortage
PETALING JAYA: For the first time, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and the independent power producers (IPPs) have joined forces to send a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the urgency of the gas supply shortage issue.
StarBiz learnt that the letter, signed by TNB CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohd Noh and IPP association Penjanabebas president Dr Ong Peng Su, purportedly touched on the following:
TNB would likely sink deeper into the red based on current running losses;

Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) should supply based on the volume of gas of 1,250 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) that was agreed upon in 2009;
Petronas should pay for the cost of the distillates equivalent to the cost of gas that has been withheld.
In the letter, TNB pointed out that the cost of distillates was five times that of gas and that TNB would not be able to sustain this anymore.
Of TNB's fuel mix, the bulk used to comprise of gas (60%), followed by coal (33%) and hydro (7%). Due to shortage of gas, coal now makes up almost half of the fuel mix.
TNB spends more than RM400mil per month on the difference between the cost of distillates and that of gas. Its recent financial results indicated a hefty net loss of RM453.9mil in its fourth quarter due to this problem.
The IPPs that are affected by the gas shortage included Segari, YTL Power, GB3, Genting Sanyen, Powertek, PB Power and Prai Power.
When contacted, Petronas said it had long made known its view that over-dependence on gas was not sustainable. Since 2005, it had been highlighting the issue to relevant stakeholders.
“Regular discussions and engagement sessions are also held so that customers could plan ahead their necessary measures and actions to mitigate potential impact to their operations and businesses.
“However, the convenience of cheap gas continues to drive demand,” said Petronas in a statement.
Petronas said the fire at the Bekok C offshore platform had taken out 160 mmscfd out of over 2,000 mmscfd of gas from the Peninsular Malaysia supply system.
Various initiatives are being undertaken to squeeze additional molecules from existing fields; development of small and marginal fields including Tangga Barat, Berantai and North Malay Basin will come onstream in phases from end of this year till 2015.
Petronas will begin importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) once the Malacca LNG terminal is ready for commercial operations; this first LNG receiving terminal is scheduled for completion in July 2012.
Petronas is also securing an additional 215 mmscfd from the Malaysia Thailand Joint Development Area, which is scheduled top come into the system in 2015.
In the short term, Petronas is implementing:
A mobile offshore platform unit to recover the volume loss from the Bekok C;
Sweating' the existing producing fields in Peninsular Malaysia through gas accelerated initiatives that focus on production acceleration, gas recovery improvement and removal of bottlenecks, and
An agreement with its Vietnamese partner for a short term swap deal involving 50 mmscfd for a month, from the Malaysia-Vietnam Commercial Arrangement Area.
“Petronas remains committed to help resolve the current situation and is taking all the necessary steps to expedite all mitigation measures to ensure the long term security of the nation,” it said, adding that it had been supplying natural gas to the power sector since 1984.
Up to 1997, the gas was supplied based on formulated prices; came the Asian financial crisis, the government regulated gas prices to help the industry cushion the impact from the crisis.
Up to August this year, Petronas absorbed RM143.4bil in price differential, out of which RM103.2bil was for for gas supplied to the power sector.
There is very little spare volume of gas; Petronas and upstream players are often requested to postpone maintenance schedules.
This, coupled with aging facilities, often resulted in unscheduled shutdowns.
“Petronas would curtail supply to its customers including those in Singapore, to ensure adequate pipeline system pressure so that each customer receives optimum volume of gas,” it said.
Production from existing fields is on a fast decline; from January to August this year, 37% of Peninsular Malaysia's gas needs were met by imports from Indonesia and gas developed from the overlapping Malaysia-Thai and Malaysia-Vietnam areas.
“However, this may soon become a challenge as production from these external sources is also decreasing,” Petronas said.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grim picture for TNB; RM3bil more needed for power generation

Should we start worry!!!???


Thestar: Wednesday September 14, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh has painted a grimmer picture for the national utility firm, estimating that TNB will need to spend another RM3bil on power generation for this year due to a shortage of gas supply.
Bernama reported yesterday quoting Che Khalib as saying that TNB would need to go to the market to raise money for operations, for the first time, if no immediate solution was found to address the gas crisis.
He added that all fund raising done previously was for capital expenditure.
TNB has been experiencing gas curtailment from its supplier, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), and has seen the gas shortage impact its bottom line, prompting the company to issue a warning on its profitability and dividend payment.
“Power plants in the country were not made to burn distillates. To generate 1,000 MW using the alternate fuel, it costs us about an extra RM10mil daily. It’s time for the country to review the gas allocation policy,” Che Khalib(right in pic) said at TNB's Hari Raya open house.
On average, TNB is getting about 900 million standard cu ft per day (mmscfd), far from the usual rate of 1,250 mmscfd.
TNB needs to replace the shortfall in gas volume by utilising more oil and distillates which are five times more expensive than gas.
“Power plants in the country were not made to burn distillates. To generate 1,000 MW using the alternate fuel, it costs us about an extra RM10mil daily. It's time for the country to review the gas allocation policy,” he told the news agency at TNB's Hari Raya open house.
Che Khalib said the financial impact of gas shortage for TNB was more apparent this year, with the extra cost for power generation estimated at a minimum of RM2.6bil for 2011.
“At the moment, we are using internal reserves which are draining out fast. Our debt level, which stood at RM32bil in 2001, is down to RM18bil, and this gives us room to borrow but we can't sustain ourselves for long. We need a permanent solution,” he added.
It is expected that gas supply to TNB will likely normalise by the middle of next year when Petronas' regasification terminal for liquefied natural gas in Malacca becomes ready.
Analysts also expect that Petronas' RM15bil gas-exploration project in the North Malay Basin will benefit TNB as the project will increase gas volumes for Petronas' customers, including TNB.
However, they said that the RM15bil gas-exploration project would not solve the immediate gas-shortage problem for TNB as the first gas from the project was expected in 2013.
Based on TNB's current gas power-generation capacity, the volume needed is about 1,700 mmscfd. The power sector is entitled to about 1,350 mmscfd.
Meanwhile, Bernama also reported that TNB has lobbied for the additional fuel costs to be shared with Petronas and independent power producers.
Last month, TNB submitted a proposal for cost sharing as an immediate solution to the Government but there has been no decision yet.
In its report on TNB yesterday, AmResearch Sdn Bhd upgraded its call on the stock from “hold” to “buy”, stating that the company's valuations had become compelling for a utility firm, with its share price having fallen below its book value at RM5.32 per share.
“TNB is currently trading at highly attractive single-digit financial year 2012 forecast price earnings valuation of only 8 times at the bottom of its five-year band of 8 times to 15 times,” AmResearch said.
TNB's share price ended seven sen higher at RM5.21 yesterday.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sabah villages going green with solar hybrid system

Thestar: Sep 12, 2011

KOTA KINABALU: Diesel powered electricity generators are now a thing of the past for residents of Kampung Tanjung Batu Latu and Kampung Tanjung Batu Darat.
The government has recently provided the two villages with continuous electricity through the construction of a solar hybrid system.
The system comprises of a solar farm and a battery storage facility that collects and generates energy during the day.
A diesel generator is also part of the system, but its function is to provide energy when there is no solar source available.
Prior to the solar hybrid system, residents of the two villages had to depend on individual diesel generators which require regular maintenance and fuel supply – a costly burden to the villagers.
The generators also could only operate for six to eight hours a day which limited their usage.
Resident Kulaling Lakibol said living conditions had improved significantly with the solar hybrid system.
He said residents are now able to own televisions, refrigerators and washing machines as there is a consistent supply of electricity to their homes.
The solar hybrid system is the government’s answer to providing continuous energy supply to rural areas where the grid connection for energy is not so accessible due to geographical circumstances.
It is part of the GTP’s Rural Basic Infrastructure (RBI) NKRA, which also includes the building and upgrading of rural roads, supply of clean and treated water and housing assistance programme.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Asian quality leads crystalline efficiencies

Adding a bit of rationale to the ever growing claims of world record efficiencies in the PV industry, Solarplaza has released the top ten table for mono crystalline modules and shows the best performing region is Asia regardless of company ownership.
With all the big talk of laboratory world-records and 'quality' modules by the renowned brands, it's easy to lose sight of the real picture of module efficiency. Which module manufacturers produce the most efficient Monocrystalline PV Modules currently available on the market? 

As many would have expected, Sunpower sells the solar module with the highest efficiency of 19.6%. The technology of number two Sanyo is actually not based on mc-Si alone. Their HIT technology combines a crystalline silicon cell with an additional amorphous silicon layer. The difference between the leader and the number 10 is 3.4%; in absolute terms a small difference, but relatively significant. The difference could mean you need less space, for example on a roof, to achieve the same system power or energy yield. It means you need less BOS investments. Whether it pays out to use the higher efficient modules is yet to be seen. 

This ranking does not say anything about the module cost, the relative cost per Wattpeak power, nor about the most important topic, the cost per produced solar kWh. It could mean that a module of lower efficiency is so much cheaper that the extra cost for other system components (more frame, cables, installation work) can easily be covered by the money saved on the modules.  

Also, some modules perform better in real life conditions rather than in the standard test condition as mentioned on the certified datasheet. These cost issues will be key in the Top-10s coming up soon Another remark can be made about the origin of the modules. Europeans as well as Americans often claim that at least their products offer the best quality, but this does not show in terms of technology superiority.  

Although the number one, Sunpower, is from the US, their cells and modules are actually produced in the Philipines. Except for Crown Renewable Energy all the other modules are from Asia. And it’s interesting to see that some of the more well known brands did not make it into the Top-10. We do find these brands in the Top-50 overview that can be downloaded for free here. Also interesting to see is the relatively young and unknown brands that are listed. Will these companies be offering an attractive price too and thus be heading for a leading market position? The future will tell as this listing will be updated frequently.  
*This table was first published on June 27, 2011 and was updated on July 5, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Science is key to sustained innovation

Research! Where we are now? No collective direction at all... Direction always changing.. One time stresses on research and development... the other time talk innovation only... and usually request for product with import brand policy... Where we are now??? Start early than Thailand but now left behind far-far away... do you think so???


NST: 2011/05/20
By Ahmad Tajuddin Ali

INNOVATION has attracted a lot of attention lately. Ever since the prime minister launched the country's transformation plans, innovation has assumed centre stage in public discussion. Many are more aware of the strategic role of innovation in nation-building. More people now know innovation can be a potent tool for wealth creation. To tap into the new business opportunities that will emerge in the coming years, innovation will prove to be indispensable.The prime minister has frequently touched in his speeches that it would be difficult to achieve the nation's triple objectives of high income with inclusiveness and sustainability, as articulated in the New Economic Model (NEM), without the necessary investment in innovation. The scientific community is encouraged by the government's launch of innovation lift-off projects as part of the economic transformation package.

A major issue confronting science in the country is the declining interest in a science career. Unless addressed soon, we may not have the critical mass of scientists to drive innovation. Now, only 20 per cent of secondary school students opt for a Science course. Some educationists blame it on the uninteresting ways Science is taught. They are urging the government to revive inquiry-based Science education (IBSE) earlier piloted in some select schools. In countries such as France and China, IBSE has been a major success in reviving interest in Science.

The medium of instruction is also a factor to consider. Though the national language has made significant headway, many scientific terms are still best described in English. Furthermore, much of the scientific references are available only in English. A recent announcement to review the policy is welcome. It may be time to leave it to the discretion of the schools. However, this is not to completely abandon the ongoing programme to translate scientific references and books into Bahasa Malaysia.
If innovation is a recipe for the high income that the country aspires to achieve by 2020, then Science is the precursor of innovation. Innovations that involve technology development thrive on a diet of strong scientific foundation. Put it in another way, Science is food for new technologies. There is no technology without Science. Science precedes all new breakthrough in technology. This can be in engineering, information and communications technology (ICT) and biotechnology, just to name a few.

This is not to suggest that innovation is only about Science. Arguably, innovation can also feature in many non-science sectors, including finance, social studies and even economic planning. But, not many would dispute the fact that a good command of Science is a key ingredient of sustained technology innovation.

There is ample evidence to suggest that innovation leadership is in the domain of countries which excel in the scientific discipline. These are also countries which invest heavily in research and development (R&D). Most important of all, such countries are in constant touch with the latest developments in science and research. They have an effective intelligence mechanism in tracking the development of science.

Admittedly, science is not cheap. Investment in scientific R&D talks about expenditures running into billions. Risks in such investments are also high. Furthermore, the results can be uncertain. In fact, there is no guarantee that the outputs of R&D can come to anything at all.

More often than not, only a small percentage would eventually make it to the commercial world of business. On the other hand, any R&D breakthrough which eventually ends up as a successful business, would more than make up for the losses incurred in the R&D that do not make to the marketplace.

Since science is a high-cost venture and can be uncertain, it is important, therefore, to have good guidance. This calls for dependable advice from experts in the field. The advice would not only be concerning the strategic areas to pursue, but also what would be the priorities. Only then can there be more focus in the R&D that the nation needs to invest in.

The recent resurrection of the National Science and Research Council with a re-constituted membership, under the chairmanship of the science adviser to the government, is indeed long overdue. The council can provide advice to the government on strategies and priorities of scientific R&D, and identify and help resolve bottlenecks in implementation, such as weaknesses in the infrastructure for R&D, both hard and soft.

This is also where the Academy of Sciences has a big role to play. Tapping into the knowledge and expertise of its fellows, the academy has churned out many strategic recommendations on science as advice to the government.

Through the academy's vast international network and partnership, it has also been able to tap into the knowledge of world experts from partner academies around the globe. In addition, the academy also pursues programmes to nurture and train young scientists on the art of scientific intelligence.

This will also make sure the country continues to build on the resources of scientific talent. Only then can the country enjoy a sustained flow of innovation. This is because science is key to sustained innovation. There is no other way.

Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali is president of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia

Read more: Science is key to sustained innovation http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/17science0511/Article/#ixzz1NBTsMpKe

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Analysts: Single-digit power tariff hike likely next week

Thestar: Saturday May 21, 2011


PETALING JAYA: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) may be allowed to impose a “single-digit” electricity tariff hike when the Government announces a new tariff next week, sources told StarBizWeek.
“It will not be a double-digit hike but close to that,” the source said, adding that some 56% of the population would not be affected by the hike.
He said the lower income group would still be protected, given that the Government had cut some subsidies recently.
OSK Research head Chris Eng said he expected 5% to 10% tariff hike for TNB. In a report yesterday, Eng said: “We believe a tariff hike is long overdue, given the rising cost of coal and other raw materials, while the tariff has stayed stagnant since March 2009.
“Our analysis continues to show that TNB could see a 9% hike in core net profits for every 1% hike in effective electricity tariff.
“There is a potential for a 5% to 10%, or an effective 7%, hike for TNB which would see a significant jump in profits, failing which the financial year ending Aug 31, 2011 (FY11) would be TNB's worst year since FY06,” he said.
Several research houses, including Kenanga Research and AmResearch, also expect a tariff hike.
When contacted, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui, who is currently overseas, said he could not comment on the issue.
The tariff hike has long been subject to speculation among industry players. Nanyang Siang Pau has quoted sources as saying that the Government would not increase the price of RON95 petrol for the time being. However, a price hike for electricity was expected next week, the daily said.
According to sources, the Government is expected to announce the tariff hike after a cabinet meeting next week but the increment would not take place until a few days later or at least until next month.
Sources also said TNB was expected to make an announcement on Thursday on the matter.
According to Performance Management and Delivery Unit's (Pemandu) subsidy rationalisation plan, electricity tariffs will be increased by 2.4 sen/kWh initially, followed by 1.6 sen/kWh increase in every six months over the next five years until July 2014. Currently, the average electricity tariff stands at 31.3 sen/kWh.
TNB has had its base tariff hike (2% to 3% adjustment for every three years to account for inflation) frozen since 2009. Its current tariff (effectively at 31.2 sen per kWh) only covers the coal cost up to US$85 per tonne versus the current coal price estimates of US$117 per tonne.
Meanwhile, Kenanga Research said TNB had clarified that the utility giant had no timeline indications from the Government for the tariff review, other than the fact that the Government wanted to push through the subsidy rationalisation plans as proposed by Pemandu.
“TNB also mentioned that decisions are unlikely in the next couple of weeks since the Prime Minister is still overseas.
“We do not discount the possibility of a hike as TNB really needs it to cover its rising coal costs, particularly when coal usage is at an all-time high, given the severe gas supply curtailments.
“Any tariff hike will fully compensate for subsidised gas price hikes, hence, a neutral impact on TNB,” the brokerage said.
AmResearch has expected the increase in tariffs and has incorporated a 2% hike in its forecast for TNB's FY12 and FY13 earnings.
It said the current tariff assumed coal cost at a much lower price of US$85 per tonne, hence TNB's request for a tariff review.

Bullish on solar plants---> Do Malaysian FiT really a mechanism to boost RE activities?

 It shows that RE-FiT only grab interest from IPP, not yet drive smaller player from enterprise or house owner to occupy unused of ample space on roof or other non-commerciallize land. Do small player still can benefit from FiT to promote RE in their organisation or just dream left dreams.... RE is only for business man  not to promote home/enterprise owner to take opportunity to grow business in RE ... do you think so???

Thestar: Monday May 16, 2011


Better-than-expected response to FiT scheme
PETALING JAYA: Entrepreneurs are rushing to submit their plans to build solar plants following the disclosure of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme and the imminent gazetting of the Renewable Energy Act.
At a recent briefing held by the special division in the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, as many as 300 people turned up more than twice the expected number to hear presentations by officials on details of the mechanics of the FiT.
One of the reasons for the rush is simply because the FiT will be dished out on a first come, first served basis, once applications are open.
A main speaker at the event, RE/Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic Technology Application (MBIPV) national project team leader and chief technical adviser Ahmad Hadri Haris told StarBiz there would be a “quota” for producing renewable energy given the limited funding for the time being.
Tentatively, the combined quota for renewable energy for 2011 is 111MW for all renewable energy technology. The FiT is scheduled to start in the second half of the year.
Ahmad Hadri said the quota was designed to ensure the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda), the body created to oversee the implementation of the FiT, could be certain that the FiT payment would be honoured for the entire period of contract with the power utility.
“How many MW can be offered annually depends on how much money can be collected for the RE fund, what are the commitments to pay for the FiT and the expected future cost of FiT, and the drive to promote renewable energy.”
Under the initial plan, electricity tariffs will be hiked by 1% to cover cost associated with the FiT scheme. The tariff hike, however, has yet to happen but the Government is committed to kickstart the FiT.
Hence to meet the initial demands of funding the FiT, the Government will allocate RM189mil to finance the higher rates that Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) will be paying for renewable energy although the longer-term plan remains for electricity tariffs to be raised by 1%.
According to government officials, such a tariff hike will bring in RM300mil a year to be administered under the FiT scheme.
“Under the RE Bill, the management and utilisation of the RE fund must be openly reported and tabled in parliament annually. Thus, the public can scrutinise the information. We are also putting the information on the Seda website,” Ahmad Hadri said.
So far, no approval has been given to any party to operate renewable energy as the FiT application is not open yet. The application will be on a first come, first served basis; “therefore there is no opportunity to book any quota,” said Ahmad Hadri.
“To be fair, Seda will first launch the web portal (information) and communicate to the public about the FiT opportunity. We anticipate this to start in late June. After three or four months only will Seda open the FiT application, and the public can apply for up to three years in advance.”
Last month, both the RE Seda Bills were passed by parliament. The FiT is expected to be implemented by the third quarter while Seda will be legally established. Comparing the FiT scheme with other neighbouring countries, Ahmad Hadri said Malaysia's FiT would be better. “Better because we have learned from their experiences and other countries' experiences too. We have adapted all the good parts and avoided the mistakes and also customised for the Malaysian context.”
One interested entrepreneur, Gerard Teoh, said “the Malaysian FiT scheme of RM1.14 for installed capacity above 72kWp and up to and including 1MWp makes building solar farms viable.” Teoh is the executive director of Asia Solar Generation Ventures Sdn Bhd, an investment holding company incorporated to develop and operate solar farms in Malaysia. Its shareholders currently have equity interest in an operating solar farm north of Bangkok.
Teoh opined that the effective period of 21 years was good as it would enable players to recoup their return on investments.
But it is his hope that the application process for producing renewable energy would be done in a fair and transparent manner. He said the licence should be given to only those who are serious and have the capability and financial strength.
Meanwhile, OSK Research head Chris Eng believes biomass was more viable than other RE technology.
He said land costs remained one of the biggest elements for solar producer as cheap land could be located far from the grid. “They will then have to build a long transmission line to connect to the grid.”
Eng expects it would take five years before anything significant can take place in the solar energy sector. He said a lot of promotional campaigns would be needed to inform the public on renewable energy.
“The industry players may jump at the chance to produce solar power but I doubt the residential sector will.”
He expects more biomass plant to be sprouting up but doubts companies which are using it internally would sell it to the grid

Tapping renewable energy ---> Biomass in the making???

Figure need to be verified: Watt/ton FFB??? Do you know?


Thestar:Saturday May 21, 2011


PALM biomass waste previously is often perceived as a bane to many oil palm mill operators. Every year, millers had to incur huge costs to transport and dispose empty fruit bunches (EFB), palm shells and mesocarp fibre after the process of crushing and extraction of palm oil and palm kernel oil from the fresh fruit bunches (FFB).
This situation, however, will no longer persist as many oil palm plantation owners with mills in Malaysia are now actively looking at palm biomass waste as feedstock for them to set up “green” renewable energy projects; thus creating an additional lucrative income for the operators.
One such company in the forefront of utilising palm biomass waste to generate renewable energy and power projects is Felda Global Group, which is also the world's largest plantation group.
Of the Group's 15.3 million tonnes FFB which goes into its mills annually, 3.36 million tonnes of EFB, 1.83 million tonne of mesocarp and 760,000 tonnes of palm shells are accumulated. Some 6.1 million tonnes of old palm trunks are also derived from harvesting and 3,000 tonnes from replanting activities.
In addition, its mills have palm oil mill effluent ponds which could also be used to capture methane gases to generate biogas.
It is said that Felda could easily generate an additional income of RM500,000 per mill by just selling the biomass waste like palm shells and mesocarp fibre alone.
Given Felda's abundant biomass resources and capability to convert them into renewable energy and power initiatives, it is inevitable for the group to venture into such good prospect and sustainable energy ventures, says Felda Holdings Bhd head of biomass Ahmad Nor Azman Jamin.
A Felda waste collection site for renewable power near Jengka 8, Pahang.
To date, the group has 56 biogas plants, two power plants, six compost plants, two mini gasifier plants and one fuel pellet plant all utilising biomass waste as the feedstocks.
Sahabat biomass power plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah, set up in 2001, is Felda's first EFB-based clean development mechanism (CDM) project in Malaysia and also the first in the world.
(CDM is a United Nations sponsored agreement under the Kyoto Protocol whereby industrialised countries finance the reduction of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in developing nations and can also purchase certified emission reduction (CER) or carbon credit.)
“Many rural sites in Sabah have no connections to the national electricity grid. Our rationale is replace the diesel usage with EFP-resources to generate 7.2 MW electricity and also 16 tonnes of steam for Felda mills there,” says Nor Azman.
Nor Azman ... ‘Many rural sites in Sabah have no connections to the national electricity grid.’
Biomass power plant
In fact, Sahabat biomass power plant, which produces 25,000 tonnes of CER per year, has started selling them to a European buyer since 2006.
Meanwhile, under the Government's Entry Point Project 5 (for biogas), Felda is also planning for 49 of its 71 mills to have biogas capturing plants.
Of the 49 biogas plants, 35 have been designated to supply electricity and are hooked to the national grid, adds Nor Azman.
He says; “Currently, we are segregating 12 existing biogas plants with one in Serting Hilir already hooked to the grid.”
Another exciting development is Felda Global Group and Tenaga Nasional Bhd's joint-venture company, FTJ Bio Power Sdn Bhd, which will set up a RM120mil bio oil plant in Jengka, Pahang to generate 12.5 million watts of electricity using purely EFB.
The EFB feedstock is accumulated from seven out of the eight palm oil mills owned by Felda Global Group in Jengka. The plant is scheduled to be operational by December 2012.
Another important venture is the Sahabat Bio Oil project in Sabah via a joint-venture with Premium Renewable Energy Group. This will see four Felda palm oil mills having biogas facility with 2 MW electricity generation each via the utilisation of EFB.
“These mills will then supply the treated EFB and excess electricity about 6 MW to the bio oil plant.” The potential take-off of the bio oil product include fuel for stationary engine in power plant, speciality chemicals extraction and export market as green fuel,” says Nor Azman.
Currently, the Felda Global Group is pursuing several projects to fully utilise EFB produced by its mills. About 70 other projects are in progress or in the pipeline, including composting, pellet production and combined heat and power projects. By 2013, EFB produced by all 71 mills in the Felda Global Group will be fully consumed.
Going forward, Nor Azman says Felda will likely be seeking partnerships in the area of renewable energy.
“It has the capability to lead government-to-government collaboration on drawing up the regional renewable energy road map and implementation, for example, with Indonesia, which is also a major producer of palm oil.”
Challenges in the sector include the biomass conversion technology which is still not mature, high transportation cost for bulky materials with high moisture content, lack of human capital competency and the pricing of renewable-energy based electricity due to feed-in tariff.

Felda Global, TNB in JV for biomass plant

Key Figure:

1) Investment : RM 120 million

2) Using purely oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) : 350,000 ton/year

3) Land usage : 4.2 ha (0.042 square kilometer = 42 000 square meter)

4) Electricity generated : 12.5 MW


Thestar: Tuesday March 1, 2011

It will invest RM120mil to set up second ‘green’ power facility
PETALING JAYA: Felda Global Group and Tenaga Nasional Bhd have formed a 60:40 joint-venture company, FTJ Bio Power Sdn Bhd, and invest RM120mil to set up a plant that will generate electricity using purely oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB).
The construction of the plant is scheduled to commence soon on a 4.2ha site in Jengka 9, Pahang and be fully completed in December 2012. The plant will be able to generate 12.5 million watts of electricity.
“The plant will utilise EFB accumulated in the process of producing crude palm oil from seven of the eight mills owned by the Felda Global Group in the Jengka area. These total 350,000 tonnes a year,” said Felda in a statement yesterday.
In the same statement, Felda Global Group president Datuk Sabri Ahmad said that the Malaysian palm oil industry generated some 140 million tonnes of biomass every year from palm oil production, of which EFB comprised 20 million tonnes.
“Felda, as the country's largest oil palm operator, produces three million tonnes of EFB. There is a tremendous opportunity to derive value from these oil palm waste products and harness them into energy,” he said.
The Jengka 9 biomass plant is Felda's second plant that uses only EFB to generate electricity. The first, a 7.5 million watt plant, was built in 2004 and was also Malaysia's first “green” electricity power plant.
“The Felda Global Group is pursuing several projects to fully utilise EFB produced by its mills. Some 70 other projects are in progress and in the pipeline, including composting, pellet production and combined heat and power projects.
“By 2013, EFB produced by all 71 mills in the Felda Global Group will be fully consumed,” it said.