In Malaysia, rural electrification is currently regarded as an integral part of the government’s important strategy to share the economic development benefit with the rural people. There are currently two categories of rural electricity supply: public supply, provided by the Sabah Electricity Board in Sabah, SESCO in Sarawak and TNB in Peninsular Malaysia; and private supply, which can be further subdivided into the following three categories:
• Government provided diesel generator sets
• Commercial generators owned and operated by a private business
• Private use diesel or petrol generator sets, purchases by a household or group of households
Rural household in Malaysia would need to be adequate for lighting and to run a few domestic appliances, such as ceiling fans, a TV, a radio and possibly a refrigerator. These loads could all be D.C. but this would be less popular with consumers, who would wish to have the freedom to buy cheaper standard A.C. products from the suppliers. Due to fluctuation of fossil fuel market and limited resource supply, new and renewable energy sources would certainly be preferred if available at acceptable costs and with proven reliability. In some locations, wind generators or micro hydro systems may be feasible, but in general, solar power system is preferable due to cost and maintenance consideration.
At the moment, Malaysia solar power or also known as photovoltaic (PV) system is only limited to solar water heating systems in hotels, small food and beverage industries and upper middle class urban homes.
It was estimated that there are more than 10,000 units of domestic hot system using PV system at the moment in Malaysia (Mohamed, 2006). Although PV system has tremendous potential, especially for remote areas in Malaysia, PV panels are most likely imported and not suite for long lasting tropical climate utilisation. Costs of PV cells have to be viewed in a different manner since, as is now widely accepted. PV cell costs are on a falling cost curve, but not such a large fall in price to balance system costs which including batteries, controls, wiring, installation and etc. The system costs will probably not fall as fast as the module costs and eventually, this technology still too expensive for mass power generation.