Interview: Zeth Lim, CEO of Verdant Solar on democratizing solar energy

Business News interviews Zeth Lim, Chief Executive Officer of Verdant Solar. Verdant Solar, as a prominent residential solar provider in Malaysia, is actively working to encourage individuals and communities to embrace solar panels for their households.

Residents in Malaysia often have reservations about solar panel installations due to misconceptions about high costs and concerns about inconsistent after-sales service. To address these issues, Verdant Solar is taking several strategic initiatives.

Firstly, they are debunking myths about installation costs through community outreach and education. While initial costs have reduced significantly, they offer interest-free payment plans and long-term loans in partnership with banks to make solar systems financially accessible.

Verdant Solar focus on customer satisfaction

Additionally, they focus on customer satisfaction by providing dedicated customer service, quick installations, defect rectifications, and real-time system status checking.

Verdant Solar’s approach aims to democratize solar energy by making it accessible to a wider range of people, including those who may not have considered renewable energy before. They actively participate in events and exhibitions, expanding their presence across key regions in Malaysia, raising awareness and trust in their services.

Looking forward, Verdant Solar plans to continue geographical expansion, recruit experienced professionals, and enhance the overall customer experience. Their goal is to empower more individuals with renewable energy solutions, making solar power an accessible and satisfying choice for Malaysians.

Here are some of the questions and answers:

How can the NETR program encourage Malaysians to lead a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle and your opinion on the government aiming to transform the economy by changing the economics of renewable energy and making it profitable for businesses and households to participate in it.

The government’s recent directive under NETR, which sets a goal to achieve 70% renewable energy (equivalent to approximately 57GW of solar PV installations) by 2050, is commendable. This ambitious target undeniably paves the way for broader expansion opportunities for businesses and investors.

Furthermore, the commitment to ramp up investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure, with a projected outlay of RM 18 billion, is aimed at alleviating grid constraints. This substantial investment will facilitate the connection of more solar systems to the grid.

For homeowners, the introduction of a virtual aggregation mechanism for residential buildings is an innovative move. It allows those with extra roof space to lease it out to individuals or entities wishing to offset their energy consumption through solar power. This not only provides a new revenue stream for landed homeowners but also promotes the installation of more solar panels on residential properties.

Solar energy: Challenges

What are the main challenges faced by Malaysian solar power companies in efforts to make solar PV to be considered a viable renewable energy option in Malaysia?

Malaysian solar power companies face several challenges in positioning solar PV as a prominent renewable energy source in the nation. A significant hurdle lies in the affordability of solar systems for the average consumer. 

To address this, there’s a pressing need for financing options that feature low-interest rates and extended repayment periods. This would make solar systems more accessible to a larger segment of the population. Additionally, as the solar industry in Malaysia rapidly expands, there’s an evident shortage of skilled professionals to keep pace with its growth. Recruiting the right talent becomes paramount for sustaining this momentum. 

Furthermore, the imminent conclusion of the current NEM (Net Energy Metering) policy by year-end brings about uncertainties, as the solar industry is awaiting the government’s decision on the future of NEM surrounding the policy’s renewal. This creates a challenging environment for both businesses and investors in the solar market. Hence, a clear continuity or successor policy is crucial for companies to plan their strategies and future staffing needs effectively.

How does Verdant Solar enable individuals and communities in Malaysia to consider solar panels for their households? Why are residents in Malaysia hesitant to install solar panels in their homes.

Residents in Malaysia often hesitate to install solar panels due to misconceptions and practical concerns. One major misconception is the perceived high cost of installation; however, installation costs have plummeted by nearly 65% over the past decade. Verdant Solar, as a leading residential solar provider in Malaysia, proactively organizes events and community outreaches to debunk these myths. Additionally, while initial costs have significantly reduced from RM 48k in 2013 to about RM 18k today, the initial investment remains a barrier for some. To address this, we have partnered with banks to offer interest-free easy payment plans spanning up to 60 months or up to 10 years loans, making solar system ownership feasible, and even resulting in positive cash flow for some from day one.

Push for renewable energy

However, concerns aren’t solely financial. Some residents fear inconsistent after-sales service, particularly with reports of certain solar companies underperforming or shutting down entirely. To instill confidence in potential customers and set ourselves apart, we aim to be Malaysia’s most customer-centric solar company. We achieve this by offering dedicated customer service representatives, quick installations, swift defect rectifications, and a real-time system status checker, ensuring an unparalleled customer experience from start to finish.

What are some specific ways in which Verdant Solar is making solar energy more accessible to a wider range of people, including those who may not have considered renewable energy before.

Verdant Solar is spearheading efforts to democratize solar energy for a broader audience, particularly those unfamiliar with renewable energy. One of our primary strategies is financial accessibility; by collaborating with banks, we’ve introduced interest-free payment plans for up to 60 months or loans extending up to 10 years. This financing flexibility not only simplifies ownership but, in some cases, leads to immediate positive cash flow from the installations.

Additionally, we place a high premium on customer satisfaction to make our existing customers our promoters, understanding the power of word-of-mouth, especially given the significant investment that solar systems entail. Our expanding presence, with branches in key regions like Klang Valley, Penang, and Johor, ensures that a more extensive customer base can access our services. This geographical expansion is complemented by our active participation in events and exhibitions, raising both awareness and trust in Verdant Solar. 

Empowering the people

Verdant Solar’s future plans and goals for further empowering people through solar power and renewable energy solutions.

We at Verdant Solar have set an ambitious trajectory for the future, centered on amplifying our reach and impact in the solar energy sector. A core component of our strategy is geographical expansion, which aims to make our services accessible to a wider demographic, effectively promoting the advantages of solar power to more individuals. Alongside this, we are committed to strengthening our team by recruiting seasoned professionals, ensuring that as we grow, our quality of services remains top-notch. 

Central to our ethos is an unwavering commitment to our customers. We’re not merely aiming to maintain our standards but are continuously striving to elevate them. This involves enhancing every facet of the customer journey, from speeding up service delivery to ensuring impeccable quality and an unparalleled customer experience. In essence, Verdant Solar envisions a future where every customer feels empowered and satisfied by their renewable energy solutions.

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