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Green Living in Malaysia for an Energy Conscious Future

Image source: Sime Darby Property (SDP)

With roots stretching back more than a century, Sime Darby Property (SDP) is one of the leading players in Malaysia’s property market. While the company may be grounded in history, this hasn’t stopped it setting its sights on the future. And what future does Sime Darby see? If the Ilham Residence in the City of Elmina, located on the outskirts of Shah Alam, is anything to go by it will be a future where new homes come equipped with solar panels, smart green meters and home energy management systems. Some of these initiatives will allow homeowners to manage their energy consumption and export excess energy back to TNB under the Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme.

Abutting a forest reserve, the Ilham Residence boasts more than 10 acres of interactive green spaces. There are five themed gardens, and recreational facilities that include designated paths and tracks for cyclists and joggers, as well as outdoor fitness equipment. A skate park, a Tai Chi lawn, a reflexology path, a tree house, and a herb and spice garden are just some of the other outdoor features, while both the 21-acre Sakura Lake Park and the 8-acre Infinity Lake Park are situated nearby.

Enabling the development of this green project is one of the leading solar players in the country, GSPARX Sdn Bhd who looks at furnishing the homes at Ilham Residence with solar panels and smart meters – a pioneering partnership between a property and solar player in Malaysia.

“Partnership with big reputable name in the property development like SDP is definitely a big milestone achievement for us as we extend our offering to the housing developers. It paves the way to larger market where we aspire to become the green solution partner in providing a sustainable living,” said Elmie Fairul Bin Mashuri, Managing Director GSPARX Sdn Bhd.

Specialising in rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) solution for retail customers, GSPARX, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), aims to boost the country’s solar penetration by making it more accessible, affordable and convenient for commercial and residential uses. Part of its mission to help customers be in control of their energy needs allowing them the peace of mind of enjoying clean energy and making a cause towards the environment.

The climate crisis requires efforts and transformations of many facets of life, and some may be as personal and tangible as a change within the home. With rising acknowledgement of climate change and especially encouraged by the increasing time consumers are spending working from home, Ilham Residence will introduce a future of smart lifestyle allowing Malaysians to take control of their own electricity use and carbon footprint.

On this opportunity, Elmie added “The advent of Internet of Things (IoT), disruptive technology, digitalisation which are accelerated by Covid whereby more and more people choose to work from home creates the opportunity for solar to grow. This is supported by the increased awareness among the rakyat on the benefit it brings in reducing their electricity bills and at the same time, contribute to the environment.”

As the UN Climate Change Conference passes in November 2021, Malaysia is aware that it will have to make good on its commitments towards meeting climate goals. The focus for energy production is on decarbonisation, reducing the global dependency on fossil fuels by using more renewable energy. While wind power might be a viable option in many developed countries, Malaysia doesn’t have sufficiently reliable wind speed to justify the investment into offshore or onshore wind turbines as increasingly seen in Europe and elsewhere. But what Malaysia might lack in wind potential it more than makes up for in sunshine.

Advances in photovoltaic (PV) solar technology have seen a rapid rise in the efficiency of solar panels, while at the same time prices have dropped significantly. Furthermore, Malaysia has long been one of the leading producers of solar panels, primarily for export to countries with far less reliable sunshine than in equatorial climes.

In this context Malaysia has extended its Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme, which allows house owners to export any surplus solar energy generated to the energy provider. By partially placing energy production into private hands, the investment required for the transition to greener energy is less dependent on government funds. In addition, given that homeowners can see a reasonable return on investment there is a real financial incentive to install solar panels, regardless of any environmentally motivated considerations. If successfully expanded, it can be a win-win for all concerned.

Through the NEM scheme, homeowners of Ilham Residence will be able to export excess energy to Tenaga Nasional Bhd and those whose electricity are aroundRM200 a month are expected to save up to 50% of their electricity bills

“One housing development with the size of Ilham Residence requires between 4-8MW of total solar capacity. Malaysia has set an RE target of 40% by 2035 which would likely be around 18,000MW. Although it may take refurbishing all the developments in Malaysia to achieve our RE target, the efforts by housing developers to incorporate solar in their homes is an important step towards greater adoption,” said Elmie.

Although it may take refurbishing all the developments in Malaysia to achieve our RE target, the efforts by housing developers to incorporate solar in their homes is an important step towards greater adoption.

But installing panels still takes a certain amount of initiative, and solar energy production is still relatively low as a share of Malaysia’s national energy mix.

“The key to make it affordable is in the financing scheme. There are presently many financing options available such as zero-interest credit card instalments, housing loan and personal loan. GSPARX is also coming up with a solar leasing program for the house owner to make solar a convenient and affordable solution for all,” he concluded.

At the Ilham Residence development, Sime Darby Property has decided to simplify the process for potential homeowning energy producers by integrating solar panels and smart energy metering from the outset at construction. Within only three weeks of being launched in March 2020, 75% of the units were already sold, proving a strong market demand. Working directly in conjunction with GSPARX has advantages both for the potential homeowner and the electricity supplier.

“It is evident that our collaboration with a property developer ensures great benefit for both parties. We can provide consultation in terms of roof design and orientation to maximise energy harvesting. At the same time we understand that the value of properties largely depends on the aesthetics. Hence engaging GSPARX early on gives us the opportunity to incorporate our solar PV system into the blueprint. This ensures that the look and feel would not be compromised at the same time optimises on the solar investment. For example, the panels, wiring and placement of inverter could be aligned and adapted into the home designs,” said Elmie.

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