Solar Energy Entrepreneur Uses Skills To Help The Have-Nots The passion to help those who have never had access to electricity in their lives is the main drive that encouraged Noor Shahiwan Ismail to venture into the solar power business.
The Masterâs degree graduate in Environmental Science from Universiti Pertanian Malaysia established his business, SolarGE, in 2011, offering the solar brand Suncrox.
Noor Shahiwan had joined the Malaysian Technology Development Corporationâs (MTDC) graduate entrepreneurship programme immediately after graduation where he trained graduates to become technopreneurs.
Sometime later, he received funds of RM1.7mill from MTDC to start Suncrox Solar, and that is where he started to pursue his passion.
Suncrox means sun and crocodile, as the reptile can regulate temperature effectively under the sun.
Admittedly, the 30-year-old was starting a business that had nothing to do with his academic qualifications, but he decided to give it a go following his interest in solar energy.
Noor Shahiwan strongly believes that solar energy has a bright future ahead.
Teach a man to fish…
The father of three started helping the Orang Asli community in Peninsular Malaysia seven years ago, by providing them with free and clean electricity through solar power.
He uses some of his companyâs revenue to help rural folks who have been living without electricity deep in the jungle.
âThere are still many people living without basic needs and that is where sustainable energy like solar can be useful,â he said in an interview with an English daily.
Noor Shahiwan shared that he and his team recently installed a solar system at an Orang Asli Semai settlement in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
âIt was a DIY initiative where the Orang Asli were taught to install the solar system themselves, so that they would also be able to maintain and fix the system.
We provided tools as well,â he explained.
The response was overwhelming as the Semai community, including the women and the elderly, were eager to learn.
âEach family generates enough solar power to provide up to five hours of electricity, enough for powering light bulbs and charging phones,â he added.
Prior to solar power, Noor Shahiwan said the Semai community used cooking oil in generators to produce electricity.
Cooking oil is more expensive there and the Semai community pays RM1.50 per kg of oil and RM10 for the generator set.
âSo, the solar system saves them money and provides sustainable power for a longer time,â he said.
In addition, Suncrox has provided solar power to rural hospitals in Sabah, Sarawak, Myanmar, and a few African countries such as Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda under projects by the Sports and Youth Ministry.
Suncroxâs journey so far Looking back on his start-up years, Noor Shahiwan said that among his achievements, he has managed to create a solar charge controller device, to keep batteries from overcharging by regulating the voltage and current from the solar panels to the battery.
He does not sell the device individually, but instead provides the solution for the whole solar system.
These are normally installations for small and medium industries outlets, chalets, food trucks, camper vans, boats, streetlights, farms, and buildings in remote areas.
Solar installations are more suitable for buildings and small factories which use a lot of electricity and as such, will have significant savings.
They are also suitable for buildings or structures in remote areas where there is no electricity supply.
âFor residential homes, it is cheaper to use electricity provided by TNB because those homes do not use that much electricity,â he reasoned.
In the future, Noor Shahiwan aims to attain 1,000 beneficiaries by the end of the year for his social enterprise initiative.
Currently, 650 individuals or families have benefited from Suncroxâs solar initiative.
âWe gave Tier One solar home systems to recipients, which is enough for powering up lights and charging phones or anything with a USB.â Noor Shahiwan is also championing an advocacy campaign where 1kW of solar energy should subsidise one person or one houseâs electricity.
âTo provide a home with a basic Tier One solar system is just RM200,â he said.
Other accomplishments The solar entrepreneur has handled both small and big installations, such as the smart solar toilet for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, the 10kW grid tie rectification for Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, the solar power-assisted buggy for Penang Hill, and several solar lighting projects nationwide.
Suncrox has also completed a number of projects in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines.
Noor Shahiwan is active in many solar and green technology events worldwide.
His company won Malaysiaâs Boss Award for Most Voted Greentech with 27,000 public votes.
He was also selected to enter the top 10 solar energy start-ups for EXPO 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
By Neera Khandpuri.