Sun Bear to open solar glass plant

Sun Bear Solar Sdn. Bhd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Bear Solar, Ltd., Hong Kong, and a global player in the solar energy industry, is reportedly investing CNY 5.2 billion to build the first sol…

Sun Bear Solar Sdn. Bhd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Bear Solar, Ltd., Hong Kong, and a global player in the solar energy industry, is reportedly investing CNY 5.2 billion to build the first solar glass manufacturing plant in Malaysia. The plant, which will be located at the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, will produce solar glass for solar panel and module applications for the photovoltaic industry. Lee Holt Judd, chairman and CEO at Sun Bear Solar, said a total of CNY 2.2 billion would be invested in the first phase of the project, of which the construction work was expected to begin within this year. “The money would be used in setting up the plant as well as to purchase the necessary machineries,” she added. Judd said the balance of CNY 3 billion would be invested to expand the plant on the 300-acre land under the second phase, adding that the plant would produce two lines of solar glasses – float and pattern – for the solar energy industry, with production scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. According to Judd, Malaysia was chosen because of its commitment to solar panel manufacturing growth and the availability of high quality raw materials. “Sabah has a significant quantity of low ion silicon sands and limestone which are essential for the solar glass making,” she said, continuing: “The products from the plant would be exported to markets in West Malaysia as well as the Southeast Asia countries,” she said. “The investment by Sun Bear Solar is clearly a testament to the country“s competitiveness and its emphasis on the high value-added and capital intensive nature of manufacturing,” she said. She added that, at the moment, five to six photovoltaic makers were undertaking the due diligence process to set up their facilities in the country. The solar industry is Malaysia“s priority project to generate clean energy and new growth areas in high value-added manufacturing and, under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the government expects to generate 215 megawatts from solar energy, thereby increasing its solar contribution from 0.0013% to 1.5%. “As a high-technology driven industry, solar manufacturing has the potential to contribute up to 4% of the country“s gross domestic product in 2010,” Jalilah said. “The solar industry expanded by a record high of 75% in 2009, reaching a worldwide production volume of 7,500 megawatt peak and booming into a CNY 115 billion business in 2009.” The global market volume for solar-based products is forecast to increase to CNY 180 billion this year, and the market is expected to exceed CNY 500 billion in 2020.