This week, DTA was invited to attend the launch of buySolar, Malaysia’s first ever one-stop online marketplace which focuses specifically on solar solutions. The online platform, developed and deployed by OpenSys Technologies, is aimed at empowering both consumers and enterprises by providing them with greater convenience and freedom of choice in terms of selecting the best solar products and financing options that suit their individual requirements. The platform was also designed to facilitate the end-user market with the services offered by the key solar energy stakeholders.
The launch, held at Sheraton PJ, was officially graced by these stakeholders, and supported by:
- Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia – an authorised government body in charge of advocating the use of renewable energy in Malaysia
- GSPARX – a subsidiary of Tenaga National Berhad (TNB) and a registered solar photovoltaic investor that provides end-to-end solutions from consultation, installation, maintenance and monitory of the solar solutions. GSPARX will oversee the solar quotations, in order to ensure that the best value is provided to consumers and businesses that purchase from buySolar.
- TNBX – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TNB which offers the Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy (SARE) scheme and provides contracting, metering, billing, collection, disconnection and customer management for asset owners and investors.
- CIMB Bank – the official financier on the buySolar platform that will provide financing options for those purchasing the solar technologies. CIMB has allocated RM100 million for renewable energy financing. CIMB’s financing – from as low as RM20,000 to RM1 million – covers 100% of the cost of acquiring and installing renewable energy technology.
What’s unique about the buySolar platform is that it provides end-to-end solar installation services for both consumers and businesses alike. The services include online-based application, cost estimation, solar installer selection, standardised quotation, financing, online monitoring maintenance and after-sales services. Once the solar supplier is chosen, customers are able to request for a quotation and opt for financing options from different banks.
The new buySolar marketplace was specially designed to be a hassle-free, one-stop services platform that provides customers access to the best value options. As the solar providers are carefully selected by OpenSys Technologies, customers can have their mind at ease on the quality of products and services. Not only is buySolar user-friendly, but it also helps customers to optimise their savings with quality after-sales services. By installing solar panels, customers can reap the benefits of energy savings that could potentially range from 54% to 87%, depending on the amount of energy used and the size of the rooftop.
The platform also comes with a monitoring dashboard which gives them the ability to track their processes onsite and get a view of the performance of their equipment. In addition, it features a built-in chat that allows end-users to directly contact their solar providers.
“Sourcing for reliable solar panel installers and getting the right financing option can be challenging for Malaysian customers because of the complexity of the process and lack of awareness of the trusted financing partner,” said Luke Sebastian, Chief Operating Officer of OpenSys Technologies. “The objective of buySolar platform serves to consolidate all the processes, which includes the buying, installing, and servicing the panels, making it a one-stop solution which is easy for Malaysians to utilise renewable energy in their everyday lives and businesses.”
Towards Greater Use of Renewable Energy
After the launch, we managed to land an interview with Ir. Dr. Sanjayan Velautham, Chief Executive Officer of SEDA Malaysia, and asked him why, even though solar technology has been around for a long time, it’s taking so long for it to be adopted wholesale in a perpetually sunny country like Malaysia.
Dr. Sanjayan explained that just like any industry, sometimes the cost of technology as well as other factors play a significant role in the economic viability of that technology applied in a certain country. Thus, back in 2011, the Malaysian government came up with the Renewable Energy Act, creating organisations like SEDA to “ensure that we have the right policies and framework to bring these technologies to be used in Malaysia.”
He further clarified that the Act had listed in its schedule, five renewable energies, which are solar, biomass, biogas, hydro and geothermal energy.
Going back to the crux of yesterday’s event, solar energy, Dr. Sanjayan said the initial push for renewable energy in the country saw a small trend of solar-related technologies being absorbed into the power generation industry. Nevertheless, just like any new technology, it takes some time for it to evolve and improve in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness for it to appeal to the mass-market.
That’s certainly the case with solar technology. “The cost of technology has come down and the efficiency of that technology has also increased. We started with 12% efficient solar panels a long time ago. Today, they can go up to 23%. So for the same area, you could produce more,” he explained further.
In Dr. Sanjayan’s view, these factors have been some of the enablers for more people to buy these solar products. He believes that the launch of buySolar is timely as the Malaysian government is now looking to maximise the potential of its green industry and renewable energy sector in 2020, in order to attain its objective of becoming ASEAN’s green technology hub in the near future.
“SEDA Malaysia has been continuously promoting various programmes such as Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the enhanced Net Energy Metering programme (NEM 2.0) to support the Government’s aspiration of achieving 20% renewable energy target in the electricity mix by 2025,” said Dr. Sanjayan. He highlighted that such initiatives have resulted in a significant increase in the uptake of solar technology in recent years.
For Malaysia, the potential is definitely there. According to a study conducted by SEDA, there are approximately 4.1 million buildings in Peninsular Malaysia, and if all the roofs are equipped with solar panels, they could produce an estimated technical potential of 37 gigawatts (GW) of renewable solar energy. At the moment, Dr. Sanjayan shared that Malaysia has set a target of reaching 500 megawatts (MW) by the end of the year.
As a government agency, he said SEDA’s role is to create the enabling environment, through setting the right policies and framework, working with the private sector and industry players, as well as creating awareness to ensure these disruptive technologies can and will be adopted.
What exactly does solar technology disrupt? Well, according to Dr. Sanjayan, while implementing renewable energy technologies such as solar may require an initial investment cost, consumers and enterprises would be able to save on rising energy costs and hedge against tariff increases over a period of decades. “So these are the things that I think people in the public need to know and understand [as to] how these kinds of investments can help them in the long term – and save the planet at the same time,” he added.
Technology as an Enabler
The initiative taken by OpenSys Technologies to develop buySolar, as a one-stop online solar marketplace to drive the adoption of solar energy, falls in line with Malaysia’s Renewable Energy Transition Roadmap 2030, which will be launched this April.
OpenSys Technologies is a subsidiary of OpenSys (M) Bhd which began its operations in July 2018 with the aim of expanding OpenSys Group’s business into emerging technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0). OpenSys Technologies combines advanced technologies with a start-up culture and ways of working to create business-building capabilities by employing the transformative impact of Internet of Things (IoT), big data, fintech and eBusiness Marketplace.
So far, other than buySolar, OpenSys Technologies has successfully developed other solutions such as the Intelligent Manager of Things (IMoT), an IoT and big data monitoring and management services platform for intelligent devices, as well as SmartCIT, a reinvented secure logistics platform driven by IoT and digital security technologies.
During the interview, we were also joined by Luke Sebastian, CEO of OpenSys Technologies, who commented on the critical role of technology itself in bringing together all the different elements that used to make the acquisition and implementation of emerging technologies much less attainable.
Luke said, “Technology is the tool to bridge various stakeholders’ solutions to achieve the objective of this initiative. As laid out by the government to achieve the 20% renewable energy target by 2025, we believe by developing buySolar, this helps to bring transformative impact of emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and eBusiness marketplace to the industry.”
He singled out the use of IoT in particular as an important tool that would help ease many of the concerns of customers and ensure that the solar products are working properly. He said IoT is used to obtain real-time data from the sensors and devices, which are then fed into cloud. The data can then be analysed to provide users with a slew of useful information and lifetime monitoring of the solar products.
Luke added that the data can also be mined for predictive and prescriptive analysis, and to optimise the systems. These are just some of the ways that the company is using its expertise to contribute to the renewable energy cause. As Luke puts it, “We are in this together.”
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