GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia is now the third largest manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in the world, after China and Taiwan. Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) CEO Datuk Azman Mahmud said the value of exports by solar manufacturing companies here was at RM11.1 billion while local sourcing activities were valued at RM1.42 billion in 2016. He said the country had an almost complete solar ecosystem of some 250 companies involved in upstream (producing wafers and cells) and downstream (inverters and system integrators) activities. Azman said 48 solar projects totalling RM28 billion in investments in 2015 have been implemented which created 26,700 jobs. Malaysia attracted RM1.77 billion worth of investments in the sector last year and another RM650 million from 83 renewable energy (RE) projects, he added. Azman said the largest investment last year was a RM1.06 billion plant by Xi’an LONGi Silicon Materials Corp, a major solar PV company from China, located at the Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone in Sarawak which created 2,360 jobs. “The presence of high technology and established solar players is crucial to the completion of the whole solar ecosystem in Malaysia,” he said in his opening speech at the PV CellTech 2017 Conference yesterday. Azman said the Malaysian Solar PV Roadmap 2030 will be launched before the end of this year to drive the industry forward. He said the government plans to achieve 2,080MW of RE by 2020 and has introduced two policies – net energy metering and large-scale solar mechanisms – in 2016 to ramp up RE generation. “These two will contribute an additional 1,500MW of RE by 2020,” he said. At a press conference later, Azman said he was also optimistic the sector will see growth and expansion this year. He said Asia was expected to add over 37GW in PV capacity between 2014 and 2018 and Malaysia was able to tap into the expansion. “If the market improves, then investors will make investments and expand their operations,” Azman said, adding that Penang was a competitive destination with a good business environment.