Green activist claims Johor’s RM1.4b Pengerang solar project would eat up Malaysians’ supply quota

Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Environment and Climate Crisis Bureau national coordinator Sharan Raj said this was because Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (TNB) power grid cannot accept solar power input of more than 25 per cent of peak weekend demand, which is about 4,000MW. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Environment and Climate Crisis Bureau national coordinator Sharan Raj said this was because Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (TNB) power grid cannot accept solar power input of more than 25 per cent of peak weekend demand, which is about 4,000MW. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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JOHOR BARU, March 24 — An environment and climate control activist alleged today that the proposed RM1.4 billion Sultan Ibrahim Solar Park in Pengerang would inevitably exhaust the net metering quota reserved for private users.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Environment and Climate Crisis Bureau national coordinator Sharan Raj said this was because Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (TNB) power grid cannot accept solar power input of more than 25 per cent of peak weekend demand, which is about 4,000MW.

Supply beyond that would require TNB to install utility-scale batteries, which he said were expensive and the cost of which was likely to be passed on to consumers via increased power tariffs.

“The government had already allocated about 3,500 MW until 2023 under the Large Scale Solar (LSS1-4) and rooftop solar (NEM 1-2) before Johor made its announcement on the solar park.

“The remainder 500MW has been reserved for rooftop solar as the current rooftop quota is expected to exhaust way earlier,” Sharan told Malay Mail today.

The 500MW quota is from the Net Energy Metering 3 (NEM3) scheme, including 100MW specifically for private consumers under the NEM Rakyat programme.

He was responding to a Malay Mail report last week of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad saying the state government will likely request for a special allocation for Johor to develop the solar park via a a special solar allocation quota.

Sharan said that Hasni’s request for a special solar allocation quota will not be possible without competing for the rooftop solar quota reserved for Malaysian consumers and businesses.

“According to the Federal Constitution, electricity is the jurisdiction of the federal government.

“Johor should have not made the announcement prematurely without consulting with the federal regulators,” he said.

Sharan added that a large-scale solar power farm would also use up space that could otherwise be used for agriculture, as opposed to rooftop solar supply that takes advantage of unused rooftop space.

“The federal regulators’ decision not to allow the Johor solar farm to proceed was a technical decision and not a political decision,” he said.

During the pre Covid-19 pandemic, the Energy Commission had projected daily electricity peak demand to reach about 19,000 MW in 2020.

According to the Grid System Operator (GSO), “day time peak demand electricity” had reduced to about 17,000 MW and 16,000 MW for weekdays and weekends respectively due to work from home.

Sharan said according to the Sustainable Energy Development Agency (SEDA), demand for rooftop solar in Peninsular Malaysia was about 445 MW for the period January 2020 to November 2020 alone.

“Solar farms recoup capital cost within five years and after that period its pure profit for solar farm developers.

“Large scale solar is merely a solar version of independent power producers (IPP) whereby people pay fixed profit to the capitalist for a prolonged period.

“Rooftop solar is a better option as people and businesses will self-generate their own electricity usage which reduces the cost of living instead paying for the profit of the solar IPPs,” he said.

Last Thursday, the Johor government said it will push for federal government approval for the proposed Sultan Ibrahim Solar Park in Pengerang as it is seen as beneficial to the state.

Hasni, in his capacity as the Johor MB, said the state government will propose to the Energy Commission of Malaysia for Johor to be given a special allocation of 100 MW to 150 MW quota, to at least start the solar park project.

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