Partner sought for Brunei solar panel plant

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

HAMIDJOJO Development Sdn Bhd is in talks with a potential local partner for Brunei's proposed solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant tentatively scheduled to start operations by 2010.

The proponent of the solar panel plant, estimated to cost US$150 million ($212.3 million), is awaiting approval from the ministry concerned on the project itself and the land allocation in Lambak Kanan.

If everything goes on schedule, the site evaluation and groundbreaking ceremonies would be held at the end of the year and operations would start in the middle of 2010.

"In total, there will be enough jobs for 150 employees where we are estimating 50 per cent of the jobs to be taken up by foreigners and the other half by locals," said Joseph Sequeira, Hamidjojo Development project manager.

The business strategy and development company expects talks with the potential partner to be concluded by the end of this month, Sequeira said in an interview.

In the event Hamidjojo Development fails to get a local partner, the company may consider looking for a site in another country, he added.

The logistics requirements and research scope of the job have already been completed, Sequeira said, adding that the only thing left to do is to build the plant.

"With the rising oil and gas prices and the greenhouse effect being a concern, renewable energy sources is what everyone is talking about, and solar energy has reached its peak where people understand that solar energy can work and help the environment," he said.

He added that the idea initially came about because Hamidjojo Development wanted to develop a glass factory in Brunei which has an abundance of silica sand, a key ingredient in glass manufacturing.

However, due to the lack of available power and oil needed to support such a plant, the project was shelved.

"At the same time, there were some businessmen interested in solar panels, so we attended some seminars in Milan, and found that glass is needed to produce solar panels. If this plant comes into operation, Brunei will have one of the few factories in the world that produces solar panels," said Sequeira.

In earlier reports, Rubyanto Hamidjojo, CEO of Hamidjojo Development, said that the project could potentially take Brunei off its hydrocarbon addiction by 2015.

At the moment Brunei depends on oil to generate its yearly demand of around 600 megawatts of electricity, and future consumption is projected to be at 1,000 megawatts in around half a century.

The Brunei Times