I was reading an article on how solar energy panels on the orbiting space station power the cooling systems. I was wondering why we can’t do the same thing in Malaysia. After all, sunshine is abundant in Malaysia and an air-conditioner (or simple ceiling fan) needs power. Image source: http://www.eurocosm.com/)
Why can’t we match the two and have a cheaper power source at our disposal?
In November 2008, Anilnetto asked the same question:-
If Los Angeles can move towards solar – the city is aiming for 35 per cent of its energy from renewables – there is no reason Malaysia can’t move in that direction now.
If we start now, we can pre-empt any move towards nuclear power plants, which, knowing our maintenance culture, would be a disaster waiting to happen.
I wondered the same question – why there are no solar panels on the roof of most Malaysians’ homes, offices and buildings, powering lights, water heaters, air-conditioners and other electric appliances?
(Malaysian made flexible & rollable solar panel that is water-proof and can also power laptops. but where is the push for greater usage? Image source: http://scorigin.com)
What about wind power or other renewal sources?
Where is the Department of Environment or the relevant Ministry’s push on the research and greater use of alternate energy? Is the Ministry’s main mission only confined to handle pollutions (after it has been highlighted by someone else) and preparations of EIA (which at times disregarded or violated) and nothing more?
Perhaps we are not matured enough when it comes to cleanliness and the environment. After all, we still have idiots who conveniently throw rubbish into our rivers and don’t think twice when polluting them.
The lack of maturity was also evident in the government when at the peak of the haze a couple of years ago; the idiots in charge decided that API reading to be classified and secret.
Increase of tariff
Instead of pushing the development and produce alternative solutions to the ever-increasing demand for power, what the government decides instead? They seem to continue to work blindly and opt for increase the electricity tariff (they said there is no other choice):-
Electricity tariffs will be raised as the government looks to cut subsidies on fuel prices, a newspaper reported today, quoting a minister.
“Fuel price movements are the main factors for the electricity tariff revision,” Energy Minister Peter Chin was quoted as saying in the Business Times newspaper.
(Source: The Malaysian Insider)
An increase of tariff may be a short term strategy but where is the long term plan? Are we going to treat the tariffs the same as the fucked up highway toll charges? That it will only be increasing?
Spend considerable time and resources now on renewable, cheap energy sources and in time, we can cut down on our reliance on fossil fuel and improve on our environments.
During Pak Lah’s slumber administration, there was talk about the use of bio-diesel to counter the increased crude oil prices. As it was with other Pak Lah’s “great ideas”, it simply died down and nothing big came out from this venture.
Incentive for hybrids
When it comes to the automotive sector, everyone is talking about hybrids and alternate fuels. Fossil fuel is not going to last for long and everyone knows that too.
A Honda Civic Hybrid at the present sells for RM129,980 in Malaysia. Considering that the hybrid is powered by a 1.3L engine, the price is certainly high. This is because the same 2.0L engine powered Honda Civic goes for the same RM129,980.
Proton is embarking on alternative fuel versions but it will be sometime before such fuel-saving Protons hit our roads.
To get people to opt for more fuel-efficient or alternative fuelled vehicles, providing incentive will go a long way to ensure that less fuel-guzzling vehicle remains on road. The reliance on fossil fuels will also be reduced and in turn the subsidies to keep fuel prices low.
An influx of solar energy usage
Is solar energy just too expensive and not worth pursuing? In Malaysia, TNB already looking at this type of energy source:-
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), through its subsidiary TNB Research Sdn Bhd, has started research on developing solar energy power that will be produced competitively cheaper so as not to burden users.
TNB president and chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh said, solar energy power is seen as an alternative source that will be more relevant for the country’s need.
“Wind energy electricity production is expensive due to the equipment used and Malaysia’s geographical position which is not favourable.
It is not viable to depend on wind energy, as such, solar energy is considered very relevant but cost of operating solar energy is very high
A “DIY” solar set which comprises a 20-watt solar panel, solar charger controller, 12V seal lead-acid battery, 15 Watt 12V compact fluorescent lamp with holder and outdoor cable & battery wire, switcher, connector & etc sells for RM698.
If the 20 watt solar panel received 5 hours per day of full sun, then you would have: 1.2 amps (20W panel) X 5 hrs sun = 6 amp-hours/day – 6 X 12V = 72 watt-hours per day.
If you were using a 15 watt 12V compact fluorescent bulb then you could light the bulb for 4+ hours with the energy you produced that day.
With a battery that holds 17 amp-hours or over 200 watt-hours of energy, you could light the light for 12+ hours before you need a charge
5 hours of sunshine powers a bulb for 4 hours per day without any pollution and use of fossil fuels. What about saving in terms of electricity bills? Let’s do some easy calculations:-
In Malaysia, the cost of electricity is calculated as 21.8 cents per kWh. So 20 Watt bulb used for 4 hours consumes 80 Watt. Thus the cost of electricity will be 1.74 cents (per day per bulb).
Not much for now but multiply this by the number of days and number of bulbs used and the number of households using solar energy, we may start seeing some good numbers.
So where is Malaysia heading when it comes to alternate power?
At the present moment, nowhere but to continue to make unproductive and wasteful endeavours when it comes to power and its source. The same old thing continues to be heard – unfair agreement with IPPs (causing high purchase of power even when there is a low demand for it), an increase of electricity tariff with the blame on the spiral world oil crude price and blatant use of public funds for subsidies.
It’s time for both the public and the Government to wake up and start looking at things in the long run.