Switch to alternative energy necessary

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

The Star

Our way of using energy is not sustainable. We need to change our lifestyle and use less energy.

HOURS before he was due to announce the power and gas tariff increase, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin was in Seremban to launch a new bio-diesel prototype project. He warned that our way of using energy was not sustainable.

“We have to find alternative sources for energy preferably green technology to power our daily needs.

“We have to turn to technology like bio-diesel because fossil fuel is not only a scarce resource, but one that is getting more and more expensive each day,” he said when launching Yayasan Alam Sekitar Tunku Syed Razman‘s prototype bio-diesel machine called Razak 1.

It efficiently turns used cooking oil into bio-diesel to power diesel engines.

At 4pm yesterday, Chin, together with fellow Minister Tan Sri Noh Mohamed Yakcop, announced the new tariffs for electricity and natural gas for the peninsula.

They explained that natural gas prices were just too high for the Government to continue to subsidise Petronas subsidised some RM27bil worth of natural gas and did not charge market prices.

Natural gas made up 54.2% of the fuel used to power the electricity turbines in the country compared with coal, which constituted 40.2%. In addition, coal prices have increased over the past few years.

On top of the increasing fuel price, the Government is allowing Tenaga Nasional to increase the base tariff by 2% to meet the rising cost. This is the first base rate increase since 2006.

Chin and Noh Mohamed described the increase as minimal and that more than 75% of consumers, particularly the lower income group, would not be affected.

All those paying RM77 or less will not see any increase but already we can hear the rumbling of protests by the usual suspects.

A local Facebook group called No Mega Tower (NMT) has started a campaign against any increase.

Instead, they have demanded a pay cut for ministers, top civil officers and extending the policy to government-linked companies, besides publicly disclosing details of major deals such as that with the independent power producers (IPP) and the controversial MyEmail project.

“We are not opposing economic reforms. We do understand that subsidies need to be cut eventually,” it said in a statement.

The NMT group was set up when it was announced that Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) was going to build a 100-storey tower in the vicinity of Merdeka Stadium last year.

Without doubt, the group, which has already more than 290,000 members, will get much support.

However, the reality is that this will not be the last of tariff increases because our dependence on fossil fuel and coal looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

It doesn’t matter who governs Malaysia, rising power prices are here to stay.

The authorities had been wary of this and were even toying with the idea of nuclear technology as a viable alternative to fossil fuels but after the disaster at Fukushima in Japan, such proposals are now placed in some KIV shelve away from view.

Therefore, we must turn to alternative technology to feed our thirst for energy.

Yayasan Alam Sekitar Tunku Syed Razman’s bio-diesel is one such way there is plenty of used cooking oil out there because we love our deep-fried foodstuff.

To power our electricity generators, we need more than just bio-diesel and, thus, have to turn to technology that taps nature’s resources like sunlight and wind.

Many European countries have set up sunlight and wind farms to harvest energy from nature.

Of course, the present wind and sun technologies may not be suitable for Malaysia but we need to improve on them so that we can use them locally. Local entrepreneurs should step forward and come up with the technologies to tap renewable power source.

As part of the tariff increase yesterday, Chin announced that 1% of the hike would be set aside to develop green technology to provide clean and renewable energy.

All said, the best way to combat the increase is to change our lifestyle and use less. We should all become environment warriors and re-educate ourselves on how we should use electricity.

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