Will it work better this time? 

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By Joseph Wong

THE Malaysian government recently launched the Solar for Rakyat Incentive Scheme (SolaRIS), a specialised initiative aimed at promoting the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in residential properties through the Net Energy Metering (NEM) programme. 

Officiated by Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Transition and Water Transformation Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, its role is to bolster solar generation adoption and enable the efficient utilisation of building roof space for renewable energy generation. The scheme offers rebates of RM1,000/kWac (kilowatt alternating current), up to a maximum of RM4,000, to new NEM Rakyat users applying through the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) starting April 1 this year.

Emphasising that integrating solar PV systems into residential premises represents a quick win strategy and effectively utilising rooftop space for renewable energy generation, he highlighted the significant potential of this initiative in supporting the government's ambitious goal to increase renewable energy capacity in the electricity supply system to 70% by 2050, concurrently reducing carbon emissions from the power sector. 

However, this kind of incentive isn’t exactly new. Star Biz7 was informed in the past that not everyone who installed solar PV systems was offered a rebate incentive similar to this. So, the question arises: Does this current offer have an expiry date or is it perpetual for the homeowner? Not wanting to pour cold water on the scheme but for TNB to achieve its planned portfolio comprising 66% renewable energy (RE) by 2035, they will have to embark on a more massive drive to encourage more house owners to take up the scheme. TNB, as of 2021, generates a mere 14% of its energy from renewable sources while 41% comes from non-coal thermal sources and the remaining 45% is derived from coal.

Making the effort

On a brighter note, at least effort is being made to turn to RE. As for the deal, it is not an undesirable  one. The scheme is open to all Malaysian citizens, with a one-time claim limit per TNB account holder, including first-time applicants for the NEM programme. Rebates will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis for NEM Rakyat quotas applied for between April 1 and December 31, 2024. 

Approved NEM Rakyat applications must be operational by March 31, 2025, or until all SolaRIS rebate quotas are exhausted. Rebate payments for solar PV system installation and operation under the NEM Rakyat programme will be disbursed to the bill holder's local bank account upon completion, subject to specific terms and conditions, with TNB managing the incentive distribution. 

Detailed information about the program can be accessed on the websites of TNB, SEDA Malaysia, and the Energy Commission. Fadillah further announced the government's commitment to enhancing public participation in renewable energy generation by allocating an additional quota of 100 megawatts (MWs) under the NEM Rakyat program, bringing the total allocated quota to 350MWs. 

Applause given

Industry players have hailed the introduction of SolaRIS as a significant stride in promoting residential rooftop solar installations, marking a pivotal moment in the Malaysian solar industry's trajectory, according to the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association (MPIA).

Former committee member Edmund Loo, representing MPIA, expressed gratitude for the long-awaited policy, stating that the solar industry had been advocating for incentives for residential premises for the past decade. Unlike corporations benefiting from the Green Investment Tax Allowance (Gita) and enjoying favourable interest rates, homeowners had not received any financial incentives for adopting solar power under the NEM scheme until now.

Loo highlighted the potential for further incentives, suggesting considerations for homeowners who installed solar PV systems before April 1 and are awaiting their NEM meters. He also lauded the additional 100MWs quota for NEM Rakyat, calling it a boon for the market and urging authorities to provide clarity on future quotas and the continuity of the SolaRIS scheme beyond the current year.

Joe Wong, a Seda-registered service provider and MPIA member, told The Star that the untapped potential of rooftops, advocating for an increase in the NEM Rakyat quota to 1,000MW while raising the maximum installation limit for households to 25kWac. This, he argued, would incentivise more homeowners to embrace solar PV systems, thereby mitigating electricity costs.

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