Green Technology: Accelerating a sustainable transportation system

Posted on July 17, 2012. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

-New Straits Times-

Transportation, public or private, is a topic of much discussion in Malaysia. There is constant talk about the increasing numbers of vehicles on the road, and the subsequent pollution they create. Creating a well-connected capital city and improving connections across the country is one solution to this problem. Another is green transportation.

“Green transportation is extremely important to Malaysia’s economy,” says Ahmad Zairin Ismail, acting CEO of the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (known as GreenTech Malaysia). “The transportation sector is the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after the energy sector. The transportation sector is also closely linked to the fuel subsidy. Improvements in fuel efficiency will lead to reducing the economic burden of the fuel subsidy.”

A sustainable solution: While the government has a constant finger on improving the public transportation system, carbon emissions and climate change are issues too big to be ignored even for a moment.

Using green alternatives to fix the current problems in the system ensures that the solutions are long-term, says          Ahmad. Making these solutions long-term includes public awareness and education, and changing mindsets.

“There are various parties that are constantly looking to improve the public transportation system by increasing efficiency not just in terms of convenience to the users but also in terms of energy consumption,” says Ahmad. “The public bus system has recently been looking into more advanced technologies and concepts. A more green-conscious society can be achieved through the application of green technologies to public transportation. It provides the visibility and proof that there are alternatives out there.”

The best example to illustrate both the viability and convenience of introducing green technology to the public transportation system is that of electric busses. Unlike the conventional diesel bus, it does not contribute directly to the carbon emission total and as a bonus there is also a reduction in noise pollution.

There is no doubt that green transportation can reduce the overall consumption of petroleum and diesel in the country. Electric vehicles also provide an avenue for diversifying sources of energy. Electricity does not have to be generated just through conventional means such as coal, gas and distillates. With increased use of green transportation, more opportunities for renewable sources of electricity such as solar and biomass will open up.

A roadmap for the future: To champion the push towards the use of non-emission vehicles to replace the internal combustion engine, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water has appointed GreenTech Malaysia to coordinate the development of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Roadmap.

This EV Roadmap basically outlines the strategies and action plans for infrastructure, required resources, policy and regulation for electric vehicles in Malaysia.

“The EV Roadmap has set a target of 10 per cent electric vehicles for Malaysia by 2020, which is about 100,000 electric vehicles in the country,” says Ahmad. “This is a great opportunity for Malaysia to push forward in the industry and claim a leadership role.”

In developing the EV Roadmap, GreenTech Malaysia consulted with various industry players who have experience in the industry, and best practices from developed nations with more mature electric vehicle policies were studies for comparison.

Malaysia has the advantage of its own car manufacturer, as well as vibrant automotive, electronics and ICT industries, all of which are the key building blocks for the infant electric vehicle industry, elaborates Ahmad. It is important to capitalise on these strengths.

Implementation: The EV Roadmap has been divided into four phases of implementation; Phase 1, the Checklist and Recommendations for Quick Wins, was completed in August last year. Phase 2, which is being carried out now, comprises pilot demonstration projects with Proton, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Phase 3, slated for next year, will see the completion of the detailed roadmap, and Phase 4 will see the Roadmap’s action plans executed with the goal of achieving the 10 per cent electric vehicle target.

Regulatory framework that will allow electric cars to be driven on Malaysian roads is already in place. Currently, as pilot tests on electric busses are already being carried out, the regulatory framework to enable these public transportation vehicles to operate in Malaysian is being developed.

“One of the most important factors that will enable smooth implementation is putting in place proper infrastructure, especially for charging electric vehicles,” says Ahmad. “The charging infrastructure is foreseen to be a mix of normal chargers, fast chargers, and battery swapping, situated at public locations, homes, office buildings and commercial centres.”

Though studies in other countries have indicated that the utilisation of public charging infrastructure low, it is still necessary to develop a highly visible charging infrastructure so as to alleviate the fear of range anxiety in potential electric vehicle users, he reveals.

There will, of course, be a requirement for this infrastructure to meet certain quality standards. A Standards Working Group focusing on electric vehicle charging has already been set up, and several internationally accepted standards are being reviewed for adoption.

The standards will be based on relevant IEC standards, reveals Ahmad. They will be implemented and enforced by local authorities or municipalities as well as relevant commissions. The IEC – International Electrotechnical Commissions – is the standards organisation for all areas of electrotechnology.

Opening doors: All these plans need human capital to see them through. The EV Roadmap is certainly affording great opportunities to several local universities that actively support the industry.

Business opportunities are also rife in the green public transportation sector, from supplying the charging infrastructure hardware and providing charging services to developing new value added digital applications such as route planning, charging station booking, mapping solutions and more. The electric vehicle industry will inevitably spawn local spin-off industries such as motor and controller manufacturing, battery manufacturing, and battery storage energy solutions.

“Our economy is growing rapidly, and the government is continually supporting the growth of new businesses and incentives channelled through the Malaysian Investment Development Authority,” says Ahmad.

The transition into green transportation will not be a quick and easy one for Malaysia, especially taking into account the heavy fuel subsidy that the rakyat is used to; it seems that going green does not currently offer enough benefits for people to make the shift.

But as the fuel subsidy is phased out and the country slowly moves towards normalising the costs of energy, adopting green technology in all sectors will result in more monetary benefits, which will certainly turn the tide. The transition will then start to accelerate. It is only a matter of time before Malaysia’s economy completes its next cycle of evolution.

Read more: Green Technology: Accelerating a sustainable transportation system – Extras – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/nation/extras/green-technology-accelerating-a-sustainable-transportation-system-1.108778#ixzz21e4diuFw

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