Malaysia interested in the development of “solar valleys“

According to Malaysia“s International Trade and Industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, the country is interested in the development of “solar valleys“ to enable small- and medium-sized busin…

According to Malaysia“s International Trade and Industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, the country is interested in the development of “solar valleys“ to enable small- and medium-sized businesses and other vendors to support the solar energy industry. The country has already attracted MYR 10 billion in investments in the fast growing photovoltaic (PV) industry, from important players such as US First Solar and Sunpower and German Q-Cells (one of the world“s biggest makers of solar cells). “They (investments) are in line with the government“s policies to encourage green technology and the use of more renewable energy,” the minister said after a visit to Q-Cells Malaysia Sdn Bhd“s production unit in Cyberjaya, Selangor. “With the valleys, there will be spin-offs for supporting industries and create clusters. The companies can also source some of the raw materials locally such as silica and glass.” Mustapa said he was impressed with the progress of Q-Cells since it invested in Selangor Science Park two years ago. German Q-Cells has invested MYR 1.5 billion in the plant so far, and produced its first solar cell within 10 months of investments. The company also said it intends to invest more than MYR 5 billion in Malaysia to face up to the increasing demand in the next few years, and is now having discussions with the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA). Daily output from Q-Cells first two production lines, reaches 165,000 cells and caters to the export market with a sizeable number to Germany. The company, which has 560 employees, said it plans to boost production by the end of 2010, providing jobs to 1,000 people. First Solar, located in Kulim, has invested RM2.5 billion, and has a MYR 1.1 billion expansion plan that will provide employment opportunities for 2,400 people. Sunpower, Malacca, still under construction, has invested MYR 2.2 billion.