Leader Solar Energy Sdn Bhd (LSE) has achieved full commercial operation of its net 29 MWac photovoltaic solar power plant located at Sungai Petani, Kedah State, Malaysia.  LSE is the first solar power project executed by Leader Energy Group, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the home-grown HNG Capital Group.

Leader Energy owns and operates a diverse portfolio of power and transmission assets in South East Asia. Currently the company owns more than 333 MW of power plants, consisting of 235 MW of coal power plants in Cambodia, 49.5 MW of hydro power plants in Vietnam and 49 MWac of solar power plants in Malaysia.

The project was awarded to LSE in December 2016 through competitive bidding conducted by the Energy Commission of Malaysia under the Large Scale Solar 1 scheme (LSS1).  LSE will sell power generated to Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) under a 21-year power purchase agreement that was signed in March 2017.

The solar plant occupies a 49 hectare freehold site and has a gross installed capacity of 38 MWp and net export capacity to the grid of 29 MWac. The plant’s net energy output is up to the maximum of 61 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually and is sufficient to supply electricity to about 11,000 homes. The LSE solar power project will save the environment from approximately 40,000 tonnes of CO2 emission annually that might otherwise be created from fossil fuel power generation.

The total project cost including land acquisition is approximately RM180 million and was financed with support from HSBC Bank and Alliance Bank. LSE will benefit from an approval from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority for an investment tax allowance of 100% of the qualifying capital expenditure incurred for the project.

Ian Fox, CEO of Leader Energy Group had this to say:  “Commercial operation of LSE is an important milestone both for Malaysia as the country fulfils its promise to promote renewable energy, and for Leader Energy as we diversify our fuel mix with clean power generation technologies.  We are very proud to put LSE, our first solar power project into operation and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with TNB.  We are further demonstrating our commitment to renewable energy by implementing our second solar power project (Leader Solar Energy 2) with capacity of 20MWac that we have won through the Large Scale Solar 2 (LSS2) tender. This second solar project will be located nearby LSE and is expected to reach commercial operation by end 2019. With the combined capacity of 49MWac, Leader Energy will be among the largest solar power players in Malaysia. The recent announcement by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change of the upcoming 3rd round of Large Scale Solar (LSS3) tender totalling 500MW will provide another exciting opportunity for us to further grow our solar footprint locally. Apart from Malaysia, we seek to expand our presence in other high-growth markets of Southeast Asia by providing sustainable and affordable power generation in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.”

LSE performed construction management for the project and will now perform all of the operations and maintenance. The construction works for LSE were split into two main packages, solar and transmission.  As part of LSE’s effort to support the government’s effort to promote local PV industry, LSE contracted these two packages to Malaysian contractors including TNB Engineering Corporation–ERS Energy-JV and Golden Lustre Sdn Bhd respectively.  Construction commenced in September 2017 and the project reached its Initial Operation Date (IOD) on 25th September 2018.  Full commercial operation (COD) was achieved on 11thOctober 2018, making it one of the largest solar farms in Peninsular Malaysia at that time.

The photovoltaic modules installed in the plant are polycrystalline panels sourced from a leading Tier-1 international supplier. The photovoltaic modules are ground mounted with a fixed tilt sub-structure and connected to feed into inverters, which are connected to 33 kV step-up transformers and switchgears which in turn are linked to TNB’s substation at Tikam Batu about 10 kilometres away. The inverter system was sourced from a top supplier in Germany.

The project uses a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system from a major European supplier, which monitors the health status of the plant to ensure that it is operating at an optimum condition and a power plant controller which is a computerised system that controls the operation of the entire plant. The plant is also installed with meteorological measuring facilities to monitor and record meteorological conditions at the site.

As part of LSE’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, LSE recently upgraded a stretch of the dirt road in a nearby village to become a proper asphalt road. The newly upgraded road greatly benefits the local community. The Plant has also provided job opportunities to the local people and we believe that over the project life, the plant will continue to be a catalyst to boost the local economy and development of the adjacent areas.