Innovation Opinions & People

Reducing greenhouse gases

by Samar Al-Montser

Due to the rise of artificial intelligence combined with disruptive technologies, more people must rethink their careers and whether this will also apply to the energy sector in Malaysia, only time will tell.

Unlimited energy source

According to principal consultant and director of a specialised energy and carbon advisory company, Climate Plus Sdn Bhd, Mohammad Iskandar Majidi believes if the government of Malaysia embrace proven technologies in the energy sector, it’ll be an added advantage to the economy. He says fossil fuels can still be used for other industrial uses if not for energy.

The world’s dependency on fossil fuels, the earth’s widely used and limited sources of energy, is a universally discussed economic and security issue. However, as more people realise the problems and rising costs associated with this finite resource, the need to seek alternatives such as green energy becomes greater.

Green energy, derived from replenishable sources such as the sun, wind, tides and geothermal heat, is commonly referred to as renewable energy. ‘People should always be more efficient in their energy use and seek renewable alternatives if it is financially viable to do so,’ Mohammad says. ‘It’s all about being energy conscious.’

Here, Mohammad points out the crucial need to embrace renewable energy alternatives.

What’s the economic benefit of being energy efficient?
Besides putting money in your pocket, it contributes towards energy security and the environment.

How do your projects attempt to reduce greenhouse gaseous (GHG)?
We advise facility owners on how to reduce their energy usage with the main focus of putting in place a structured energy management system following ISO50001 standard. With this system in place, energy related information and how energy is used becomes more visible. This allows the proper action to be taken through appropriate operation and maintenance to encourage behavioural changes and control energy costs.

Investments in energy efficient projects are prioritised based on the return on investment and the immediate needs of the facility.

Our projects are:
i) Metering and monitoring ii) Old chiller replacement iii) Waste heat recovery

What major breakthroughs in technology are being implemented in terms of renewable energy in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, adopting new technology is always a challenge, even if that technology has been well proven in other countries. It’s because of the ‘I don’t want to be a guinea pig’ syndrome or mentality.

Malaysia doesn’t need to rely on major breakthroughs in technology. It just needs to implement proven ‘old’ technologies that are good for the environment. Luckily the photovoltaic (PV) system or solar power system has been well adopted but solar thermal which is used in heating water or air is yet to reach the same level of acceptance.

Biogas however is still limited to large scale power generation. Biogas and biomass renewables have the added advantage of addressing waste management and should be promoted especially to the underprivileged, as it addresses waste management and energy requirements.

Will these technologies benefit underprivileged people?
Yes. Solar PV, biogas and biomass technology have great potential for the underprivileged. PV has the potential to distribute energy for those far from the grid and biogas and biomass as a form of energy can be used as a potential for greater inclusion of the underprivileged in the supply chain.

Will resistance from a few oil and gas giants that are limiting output and boosting prices as a reaction to the growing momentum of renewable technology, continue?

I hope the renewable energy momentum will continue and the big oil companies will soon embrace the change. Fossil fuels have a lot to play in the economy as resources for other industrial use if not for energy.

What’s the future of fossil fuel industry in Malaysia?
There is and will still be a great future for fossil fuels in Malaysia and they will remain a key driver for the countries GDP growth.

What are the top renewable energy sources in Malaysia?
Solar, biogas and biomass.

How’s Malaysia producing renewable energy solutions?
They are many Malaysian companies in this sector involved with PV, biogas and biomass. A database of the players may need to be developed to assist project developers.

What can you tell us about renewable energy in Sarawak?
In Sarawak, there is huge potential in hydro, biomass (energy crops) and biogas.

Solar power at home
Another firm believer in renewable energy solutions is Malaysian Professor Dato’ Ir Dr Abu Bakar Jaafar, director of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Ocean Thermal Energy Centre (OTEC). Dr Abu Bakar’s from a university that aims to build an OTEC Pioneer Plant off Sabah that now focuses on research and development in this sector.

Here, Dr Abu Bakar shares his experience of installing his own solar system on the rooftop of his house in Malaysia.

Was it easy to install your own solar system?
It was relatively easy as the installation of my system was professionally guided and advised by Pusat Tenaga Malaysia (PTM), the Malaysian energy centre. Though failed in the first bid under the PTM Suria 1000 programme, which is a Malaysian government project that subsidised the PV system, I managed to secure 50 per cent of the required funding of installing 4.75kW solar energy systems on my house rooftop in 2009. The total cost of installation was RM120,000.

On commissioning, I did face a number of teething problems with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB, electric utility company in Peninsular Malaysia). Especially in relation to its billing system for renewables and general lack of clarity in communication. In the beginning, I thought it was net-billing but it turned out to be a separate-billing: one, for the standard TNB billing and another, a monthly credit note or payment by TNB directly into my personal bank account for the power fed into TNB Grid.

What other renewable energy ways can people explore for their homes?
Besides solar PV, there’s a prospect of utilising solar-thermal for space-cooling. With additional installation of solar PV being converted into hydrogen-fuel, one can generate excess power for use anytime and for storage. Depending on location, on site power generation could be sourced from offshore wind, or from nearby running streams by pico-hydroelectric scheme (a hydroelectric power generation of under 5 kW). In short, renewable energy’s all around us.

How can we make renewable energy accessible to society?
Any available form of renewable energy can be made accessible to society, if they have direct access to microfinancing, as a number of renewable energy conversion technologies are fully developed and are ready for commercialisation. However, there’s still a pressing need for very intense promotion on the economics of renewables vis-a-vis conventional and polluting sources of energy.

What impact is renewable energy really making on the environment?
Renewable energy is making a big difference not only to the environment but also helping to mitigate the extremes of climate change.

What are the consequences of not having such alternatives?
The consequences are fatal, as articulated by Garrett Hardin in his 1968 article The Tragedy of the Commons. As narrated in a prophetic saying: ‘There were two groups of people in a lifeboat. Those on the upper deck had direct access to the surface water, but those on the bottom deck were not given any access to the top, so they started digging the bottom of the boat, eventually causing the boat to sink, drowning them all together’.


Photo by Master Wen on Unsplash

5 Dec 2018
Last modified: 7 Dec 2018
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