Bidor (March 14): After the end of the age of tin mines which contributed much wealth to Perak, the once boisterous and prosperous mining town of Bidor turned quiet.

What was left was a landscape littered with tin mines with little to attract industrial development or housing projects.

Examining the situation, local Bumiputera-owned renewable energy company Gading Kencana Development Sdn Bhd (GKD) realised that something can be done to transform the district’s landscape to cater to a solar power plant built using 90 percent local components.

What is interesting about the plant is that it marked a historic moment in Malaysia’s engineering history when it is the first time a solar power plant was connected to the 132 KV national power grid.

The 30-megawatt (MW) solar farm, which has been operational since November last year, can generate 54,000 MW hours worth of electricity a year.

GKD managing director Datuk Ir Guntor Tobeng said the company, with its 25 years of experience in the solar supply industry, had changed Bidor’s landscape so that it was no longer known as a stopover town and at the same time creating job opportunities for the locals.

“Bidor is a suitable location for a solar farm as it has strong sunlight with an annual average radiation of 1,695.2 kilowatt hours per square metre.

“From an economic standpoint, the Bidor plant has generated RM14 million in revenue for the State Government and created jobs for locals,” he said in a statement after a visit by Orang Besar Jajahan Batang Padang Datuk Rashid Ayob to the plant today.

Construction of the RM214 million solar power plant, which was partially financed by Affin Islamic Bank Bhd, began in September 2017 and was completed in November 2018.

The power plant is capable of supplying electricity to 20,000 households and it is estimated the use of solar energy for these households can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 760 million tonnes over a 21-year period.

Guntor said the plant used 110,500 locally-manufactured solar modules and the development of the project opened up job opportunities for 304 locals, 30 percent of whom were young Malay women.

In 2014, GKD began operating an 8MW seven-hectare solar farm in Ayer Keroh, Melaka and the company had undertaken several other solar power projects, including some overseas

Credits: The Edge Markets