With Malaysia's natural source of solar all year long, it's logical that we should look into this further. US venture capitalists have poured more than USD3.2B in 2007 to look at the viability of the power source. Of course detractors will admit that petroleum will reign supreme for the next 30-50 years, however, it doesn't mean that we should wait for that day when reserves have depleted and then develop other fuel source. The Japanese have begun the race for hydrogen cell. Should we just stand still and politicize petty issues? Obviously everyone would not ride their bicycles to Parliament or to work as a solution.
The creation of this sector will induce a much needed stimulus into the economy. Jobs can be created and manufacturers will be busy providing elements of the supply chain such as wafers, panels and other components. We can turn part-time Astro installers into roof top installers. Although this form of power generation is still heavily subsidized, (in the region of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in California for example), nevertheless it might provide some relief off the pressure on natural gas usage for power generation, therefore reducing the price of natural gas. That is the theory. This also reduces green house emission to favorable rates.
By 2020, it is expected that the top 10 nations with the highest solar exposure will expect cost reduction of solar energy down to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour and reach grid parity, even though this will only represent a mere 3% of the total power generation in those countries. As much as USD500B will be poured from now till 2020 with the intention of intensifying R&D to increase the current efficiency of roughly 30% and to reduce the cost of manufacturing components.
The shift of manufacturing components will be to low-cost countries and Malaysia should not miss the boat. The coming era is the energy race. Government will have to decide whether it is worth the while to attract investors into this country for R&D, setup manufacturing capabilities and establish policies that will ensure that Malaysians will benefit from the reduction of carbon emission, job creation, technology enhancement and above all, power generation.