Malaysia eyes pandemic recovery with 1GW new solar tender

Malaysia has been singled out as a 'promising' Asia-Pacific solar market despite high solar LCOEs, which some have linked to strict grid rules. Image credit: Paweł Szymankiewicz / Unsplash

Malaysia has turned to large-scale solar as an engine of the post-COVID comeback, targeting smaller and local ventures with its largest tender to date.

In recent days, the country’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources announced the fourth round of its large-scale solar (LSS) programme, designed to offer 1GWac worth of tender contracts and help reactivate Malaysia’s economy in the wake of the global pandemic.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

In a statement, the Ministry said the overall capacity pot will be split into two 500MWac baskets, respectively earmarked for projects in the 10-30MWac and 30-50MWac ranges. The downsizing – LSS round three was open to 1-100MWac projects – is hoped to attract more local players.

The Ministry explicitly linked the fourth solar round with the broader COVID-19 recovery efforts. According to its estimates, the 1GWac tender is expected to unlock 4 billion Malaysian ringgit (US$927 million) in investment and create 12,000 new jobs.

To ensure these benefits kick in as early as possible, the Ministry has opted to halve bidding timetables from six to three months. The government’s plan is for project development to begin before the end of 2020, to ensure solar plants can start operating three years later.

The fourth round’s 1GWac size towers over that of LSS round one (250MWac), two (563MWac) and three (500MWac). The Ministry – which shortlisted LSS 3 bids of around US$42/MWh – said it feels “confident” that competitive tariffs will too emerge through the LSS 4 exercise.

Local touch for ‘promising’ market with upstream PV scene

Malaysia’s latest solar push emerges as the country draws praise for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, the Southeast Asian nation was listed as having reported 7,800-plus virus cases and 115 related fatalities.

The country is now hoping its largest solar tender to date will help speed up the return to economic growth, the Ministry said, adding: “[The tender] also aims to accelerate the development of the country’s electricity supply industry, especially the renewable energy industry.”

If LSS 4 is targeting smaller projects, the tender is also setting its sights on local players. According to the Ministry, only “100% locally owned or incorporated” firms – or 75% for those listed on Bursa Malaysia – will be able to bid, to ensure the boost to the country’s economy is “immediate”.

Malaysia, the host of Solar Media’s PV ModuleTech conferences in past years, has recorded steady installed PV capacity raises between 2016 (279MW), 2017 (370MW), 2018 (536MW) and 2019 (882MW), according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Consultants have singled out the country as a promising solar market, given its mix of high irradiation, government tenders and established manufacturing sector. At US$88.6/MWh, solar LCOEs are thought to be the third highest in Asia-Pacific, surpassed only by Japan’s and Indonesia’s.

Speaking to PV Tech in January, EPC contractor ERS Energy – the builder of some of the country’s top solar projects – heaped praise on the LSS programme. “We have to give credit to the government and [major utility] TNB for designing a very bankable PPA,” said founder Jonathan Kan.

17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

July 12, 2024
PV Tech spoke with Helena Li at the Intersolar Europe 2024 event, about how Trina is looking to ensure effective operations.
July 10, 2024
Detention of electronics by US customs, which includes solar PV products, has dropped to its lowest since the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in 2022.
July 8, 2024
The world will add 3.8TWac of new solar capacity by 2033, alongside 1.6TW of new wind capacity, according to Wood Mackenzie.
July 8, 2024
The Vietnamese government has announced to allow direct PPA between independent power producers and large electricity consumers.
July 8, 2024
Southeast Asian independent power producer (IPP) Levanta Renewables has acquired a 139.4MWp operational solar PV portfolio in Thailand.
July 4, 2024
A collective effort will be required to realise the potential of the solar PV industry, according to Sonia Dunlop of the Global Solar Council.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Solar Media Events
October 15, 2024
Santiago, Chile