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Solar PV Overview
The word “solar” means “of or related to the sun”.
Thus, “Solar Energy Generation” means “Producing energy from the sun”.

The main forms of energy coming from the sun are heat and light.

The installation of solar thermal water heater, which we commonly see in Malaysia, is an example of harvesting of heat energy from the sun. Depending on the technology used, commonly, a “heat exchanger” is placed on the roof of a house. Solar heat is transferred/absorbed either directly or indirectly by portable water flowing through the “heat exchanger”. You can then use the heated water for shower and washing.

The technology used to harvest light energy from the sun is very different. It is just getting increasingly common in Malaysia but is well developed in countries like Europe, USA and Australia.

This technology is called the solar photo-voltaic(PV) technology. Solar PV converts the light energy into direct current(DC) electricity. The DC electricity can be used to power up DC equipment. Typical DC equipments are radio and computer

With the help of an solar electric inverter, the DC electricity can also be converted to alternating current(AC) electricity which is more commonly used. Examples of equipments operating on AC electricity are washing machine, refrigerator and electric cooker.

Small solar PV systems are usually installed on the roof of residential/commercial buildings. The electricity generated can be used by the building owner directly. Nevertheless, we will see soon that this is not the most practical method to consume the electricity from the roof-top solar PV system.

The challenges are:

(a) “The electrical consumption of the building’s habitants fluctuates. When there are no people inside the home/building, hardly any electricity is used. Even when they are at home, their electricity consumption fluctuates depending on what they are doing at any one time. Will this means the electricity from solar PV get wasted when the consumption is low? Or do the users have to limit their consumption so that it does not go over the amount produced by the solar PV system? ”

(b) Besides, the amount of electricity generated by a solar PV system depends on the amount of sunlight it is getting. During night time, there is no sunlight and thus there is no electricity output for the solar PV system.

One of the ways to address the above challenges is through the use of a grid-connected solar PV system. In this system, all the DC electricity from the solar PV system is converted into AC and being fed into the distribution grid of an electric utility company. In Malaysia, it will be Tenaga Nasional Berhad(TNB) typically.

Since the owner of the solar PV system is supplying electricity to TNB, TNB will pay the owner money in return. An electric meter will be installed and it will monitor the amount of electricity that the owner is supplying to TNB.
At the same time, the owner will still have his existing electric supply from TNB through her existing electric meter. In summary, there will be two totally independent systems:
1st system: A system through which the owner buy electricity from TNB. This is what we have now in our premises. There is an electric meter that records the amount of electricity we consumes.
2nd system: A system through which the owner sells solar electricity to TNB. There will be another electrical meter here that records the amount of solar electricity that the owner sells.
With this setup, the building owner can run her electrical equipments anytime, day and night, as she normally does. Besides, there will be no wastage of electricity generated by the solar PV system when the electricity consumption is low. Also, take note that the building owner has just turned himself into an independent power generator, on the same league as Malaysia’s YTL Power, albeit on a smaller scale!
On-grid Solar PV system.Two separate accounts with TNB :
Electricity consumption bill : consumer pays to TNB for kWh electricity consumed
FiT Bill: TNB pays to consumer for gross kWh electricity generated
Thus, 2 separate contracts with TNB
Source : Ir. Ahmed Hadri Haris (Chief Technical Advisor to Malaysia’s Ministry of Energy)


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