Energy

Time frame set for renewable energy to impact electricity supply

Posted on March 19, 2012. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

PUTRAJAYA: A three-year time frame is being set for renewable energy (RE) activities to kick off with expected higher funding and quotas.

“We are now at the stage of looking at this preliminary period in the implementation process,” Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Peter Chin told StarBiz.

“We would like to see a higher level of RE being generated in the future. But it is better to be more cautious and look at what this preliminary process is like in our implementation and the administration process by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA Malaysia). We have to learn from this preliminary phase before we proceed in a more aggressive manner.

We are looking at about three years to see how this RE is performing especially with solar energy. — Datuk Seri Peter Chin

“We are looking at about three years to see how this RE is performing especially with solar energy for which the cost of solar production is getting lower and lower.”

On the progress of the RE sector, Chin said: “We are restricted by the amount in the kitty called the RE Fund for which we can only collect 1% from each account holder of Tenaga Nasional Bhd. Therefore, the quota that is being created to implement this feed-in tariff has to be rather small.

“Because of that, it will take time for RE to really take effect in terms of the impact that it can create on the total electricity supply.

“If the fund is higher, the quota can be increased and more RE can be generated. That will be good for the country in terms of emission of carbon and the fact that RE is considered a cleaner source of energy.”

Currently, 398 applicants have received the feed-in approvals. Out of these, 71 have signed the standardised renewable energy power purchase agreements (REPPAs).

FIT payments can only be made to those developers who have signed the REPPAs and implemented their projects successfully.

Industry players suggest there should be a liability imposed on those who have not implemented their projects as money is a scarce resource.

“In fact, they should be relieved of their allocation so that others can take their place. Deadlines should be set for implementation; under the REPPAs, there may be deadlines stipulated but who is actually monitoring all this?” asked an industry player.

SEDA Malaysia acts as a one-stop centre to facilitate interested parties in all matters related to RE; it is also working with relevant training institutes to set up a centre of excellence for each RE source.

In terms of research and development, SEDA Malaysia is working on an R&D roadmap for RE.

It has also been tasked to raise awareness on RE; one main awareness programme that has been planned is a sustainable energy conference.

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Eye on solar panel factory in Batu Kawan

Posted on March 14, 2012. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government will ensure that a solar panel factory to be built in Batu Kawan complies with the necessary requirements before construction can start.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said Bosch Solar Energy would have “to give everything to the state to review before they can start construction”.

He was asked to comment on a statement by Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang who said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng must explain to the public if he (Lim) had taken into consideration the environmental impact of the factory before approving it.

Phee said this after a DAP event last night.

Tan had quoted an article in The Guardian (England) last September which highlighted a case in China where residents objected to a solar panel-producing plant in view of concerns over the hazardous impact on the environment.

It was recently reported that Bosch had paid a 20% downpayment (RM11.6mil) for a 32.3ha plot in Batu Kawan for its manufacturing facility.

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Moggie: Earth Hour means more than switching lights off

Posted on March 14, 2012. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-
KUALA LUMPUR: For Earth Hour this year, let’s move beyond just giving up an hour of light for Mother Earth.

Instead, be creative and find ways to be more energy efficient in everyday life, said Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie.

“Make energy efficiency a daily habit. We can switch off unnecessary lights, adjust air-conditioning to be comfortable rather than freezing cold, and turn off the television. Industries can install energy-efficient equipment,” he said at a ceremony to support the campaign.

Earth Hour is a global initiative by WWF that invites individuals, businesses and governments to turn off their lights for one hour on March 31, at 8.30pm to show support for environmentally sustainable action.

For this year, TNB said it was teaming up with WWF Malaysia to come up with the month-long TNB-WWF Malaysia 2012 Awareness Campaign.

He added that TNB’s participation in this annual event showed its commitment to green energy initiatives.

“We encourage our customers to make prudent use of electricity as a lifestyle because saving the planet should go beyond the symbolic one-hour switch off’ of non-essential lights,” said Moggie.

The campaign’s website, wwf.org.my, allows Malaysians to make “go green” pledges.

The campaign kicked off on Feb 27 and will go on until March 30.

Executive director and chief executive officer of WWF Malaysia Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said: “In order to meet the increasing demands of a growing population, we are depleting our natural resources faster than they can be replenished, polluting natural habitats and releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

He added that scientists warned that collective and immediate action must be taken to achieve deep cuts in global carbon emissions by 2050 in order to avoid the devastating effects of climate change.

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Degree in nuclear engineering

Posted on January 26, 2012. Filed under: Energy |

-NST-

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia to be the first local varsity to offer the programme

nuclear engineeringProf Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang (second from right) with Prof Dr Rose Alinda Alias, Prof Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim (right) and Prof Dr Wahid Omar. Pic by Roslan Khamis.

1 / 1

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia will be the first local university to offer a nuclear engineering bachelor degree.

UTM vice-chancellor, Datuk Prof Dr Zaini Ujang said,  to meet demands in this field, the university’s Faculty of Science has been tasked to set up the  programme beginning September under its 2012/2013 academic session.

The programme would be opened initially to 30 students who are holders of Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and matriculation students.

“For a start, 30 local students will make up the first batch and they will undergo the four-year bachelor’s degree programme.

“The applicants will be evaluated by the Higher Education Ministry, and they need to possess a minimum requirement of 3.0 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) at STPM or matriculation level.

“Apart from the  ministry, the students will be further scrutinised by UTM and other related agencies to ensure that they are qualified to take up this challenging field,” said Zaini after the appointment and handing over of duties ceremony involving top UTM administrators recently.

Zaini said the nuclear programme was in line with the government’s aim of producing experts in nuclear technology, and to establish reusable sources of energy by 2020.

“All facilities and infrastructure for this new course have been completed  two years ago, and we are now awaiting its first intake.

“We would be acquiring the services of an internationally-recognised nuclear expert to be the programme’s lecturer.

“The programme aims to produce research that could help with the country’s efforts to obtain new forms of energy to reduce our dependence on  on fossil
energy sources such as oil, gas and coal.”

He said nuclear engineering research would help create new skills and lead to new products    in the fields of agriculture and medicine.

Meanwhile, Prof Ir Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim, who was previously UTM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international), was  appointed as the university’s new deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation).

The  position was  held by Datuk Prof Dr Marzuki Khalid, whose tenure ended on Jan 15.

Former UTM School of Graduate Studies dean, Prof Dr Rose Alinda Alias  replaces Mohd Azraai as deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international).

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Green lighting will be available in Malaysia soon

Posted on January 17, 2012. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

JOHOR BARU: A new LED lighting technology which uses less electricity but produces brighter and longer lasting light will soon be available.

Greentech LED Lighting Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Syed Elias Syed Ahmad said the company would be the first to introduce the German-based technology to the country.

“The lights, also known as Green Lighting, are widely used in the United States, Europe and China, and we are excited about introducing it to Malaysians,” he said.

Cutting energy use: Greentech LED Lighting director Syed Fadhley Shah Syed Elias (left) and consultant Joffery Woo showing an LED street lamp produced by their company at Technovation Park Industrial Centre in Skudai yesterday. — Bernama

He added that the company would be collaborating with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to produce new LED products using solar power which would benefit those living in rural areas.

“Our lights are different from other LED products as the bulbs use multiple chips on board design which saves 80% of energy as compared to regular LED lights,” he said.

He said the lights only used up to 50W when installed at homes or offices as compared with similar fluorescent bulbs which used up to 90W.

UTM Innovation and Commercialisation Centre director Prof Dr Azhar Datuk Abdul Aziz said this was a good collaboration.

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Should Malaysia’s renewable energy target be more ambitious?

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

-The Star-by Leong Hung Yee, writer

Yes.

WE should have a more ambitious long-term renewable energy (RE) target. After all, Malaysia is blessed with natural resources, especially sunlight.

Malaysia plans to achieve 985 MW of RE, or a 5.5% share of the energy mix, by 2015. Currently, RE contributes less than 1%. The target by 2020 is for RE to make up 11% of the country’s electricity generation.

Based on the number of RE projects awarded by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) to date, we are on track to achieving the 11% target. Perhaps, the target is modest in comparison with the targets and achievements of other countries.

We may not be able to beat Germany (the current No. 1 in the solar market) in the near future but we should at least aim higher say, 10% of electricity generation to come from solar, given that we have sunshine all year round and it’s free. Also, we have much waste that can produce biomass energy.

Malaysia aims for 25% usage of RE by 2050. By then, several other countries would be in the 60% to 70% range.

Our Government has indicated it is open to raising quotas to generate RE if consumers are willing to pay another 1% RE levy on top of the current 1% in electricity bills.

In the long term, as Malaysia produces and consumes more RE, it can better control its fuel imports and would be less affected by the changes in prices. Thus, we can become more energy independent. On top of that, more RE will also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create a greener environment for generations to come

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Indonesia’s long, winding road to nuclear power

Posted on December 5, 2011. Filed under: Energy, International Watch |

-The Jakarta Post-

Taswanda Taryo, the National Nuclear Energy Agency’s (Batan) research chief, is phlegmatic about building the nation’s first nuclear power plant.

“Despite the pros and cons, we’ll try to work on schedule,” Taswanda said.

After the leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, however, concerns on the safety of nuclear power have heated up. Germany, for example, temporarily shuts down its nuclear power plants for further study.

“The disaster in Japan delivered a message that we have to be more careful in dealing with nuclear power. However, if we put the plant in the right place and apply the right technologies, it will be safe,” Taswanda said.

According to the 2007 National Long-term Development Plan (RPJPN), Indonesia’s first nuclear power plant is scheduled to open between 2015 and 2019 – a target that Batan chief Hudi Hastowosaid would be missed.

Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been in no rush, saying there would be no nuclear power plant built in Indonesia before he leaves office in 2014.

The idea to build a nuclear power plant in Indonesia first emerged in 1956 during seminars at universities in Bandung, West Java, and Yogyakarta. But it was not until 1972 when Batan and the Public Works and Electricity Ministry set up the Commission for the Development and Preparation of Nuclear Power Plants (KP2PLTN).

In 1989, the National Energy Coordination Agency (Bakoren), supervised by Batan, conducted a feasibility study for building a 7,000-megawatt (MW) reactor on the Muria peninsula in Central Java.

By 1996, officials determined that it was possible to build a 600-to-900 MW light water reactor on the peninsula, planning for the reactor to go online to support Java and Bali’s electricity grid by 2004.

However, the project was shelved in 1998 amid the Asian Financial Crisis. Strong local resistance has since stymied work on the reactor.

Batan then looked for other possible locations for a nuclear power plant, eventually choosing Bangka-Belitung. The government currently plans to build a 10,000-MW reactor West Bangka and an 8,000-MW reactor South Bangka with a launch date of 2021 or 2022.

However, this plan has also met resistance from local residents fearful of a repeat of the nuclear catastrophes in Japan and Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Indonesia’s location in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, the site of a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has heightened risks and popular concerns about nuclear power.

Taswanda, however, downplayed the risks. “I learned from the Indonesian Earthquake Commission that eastern Sumatra, western Kalimantan and north Java are relatively safe from earthquakes because they are far from fault lines.”

In the future, Taswanda said, Batan wanted to “improve communication” with the residents of Muria and Bangka and share with them how a nuclear power plant might improve their well being.

“Electricity from a nuclear power plant is very important for industries to expand their businesses, which in the end can absorb more workers,” he said.

Taswanda said pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology was the most suitable and reliable form of nuclear energy production for Indonesia.

A PWR uses water as its main coolant. The water is pumped under high pressure to the reactor core where it is heated by the energy generated by the fission of atoms.

The heated water then flows to a steam generator, where it transfers its thermal energy to a secondary system where steam is generated and flows to turbines which, in turn, spins electric generators.

Currently, Indonesia has three small-scale nuclear reactors: a 250-kilowatt (kW) reactor in Bandung launched in 1965; a 30-MW reactor in Serpong, Banten, launched in 1987; and a 100-kW reactor in Yogyakarta launched in 1979 .

The cost of building a nuclear reactor, using the example of Vietnam, may reach Rp 20 trillion (US$2.1 billion). While initial investment is expensive, nuclear plants are cheaper to operate than oil-fueled power plants.

A nuclear power plant can produce electricity for about 9.66 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on the high end, while the cost of electricity produced by oil-based plants top 30 cents per kWh.

The cheapest option for generating electricity, however, is coal, which yields electricity for about 4 cents per kWh.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said he recently received a proposal to build a 200 kW-nuclear-power plant whose output could be increased to 2 MW within a year.

“I personally agree with the proposal because one day we will have to use nuclear technologies for electricity,” Dahlan said.

Separately, the new chief of state power utility PT PLN, Nur Pamudji, said PLN was ready if the government chose to go nuclear.

“However, we don’t know who will build the power plant,” Nur said.

Batan, which only promotes nuclear technology, would not build power plants, Taswanda said. It would only guide investors to find suitable locations for nuclear power plants and determine which technologies should be implemented.

Previously, officials at Batan voiced their disapproval of comments made by Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Widjajono Partowidagdo, who said that Indonesia was not ready to build a nuclear power plant due to poor security and a lack of skilled human resources.

The Indonesian Engineers Association (PII) also lambasted Widjajono, saying building a nuclear power plant was already a national program and that the deputy minister should have known about it.

Widjajono said Indonesia should work with a nation that had mastered nuclear technology, such as Singapore, before building its own plant.

“We could build the plant on an island near Singapore, such as Batam. We can even export half of the electricity to Singapore or Malaysia.”

However, Widjajono said that Indonesia uses alternatives, such as coal, geothermal energy and natural gas before turning to nuclear power.

 

A Brief History of Nuclear Power in Indonesia

Year   __________   Activities

1956  Academics propose building nuclear power plants Indonesia.

1972  Batan establishes Commission for the Development and Preparation of Nuclear Power Plants (KP2PLTN).

1975  14 sites for nuclear power plants are identified, five of which are deemed acceptable.

1978  Cooperating with the Italian government, the nation’s first nuclear power feasibility study is conducted. Plant construction is delayed pending development of a research reactor.

1985  Feasibility study continues under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Bechtel International (with US government backing), France-based SOFRATOME and the Italian government. The study is used to investigate developing a reactor in Muria, Central Java.

1989  National Energy Coordination Agency (Bakoren) is founded. Muria Peninsula feasibility study is launched.

1991  Finance Ministry inks deal for new feasibility study with consultants NEWJEC Inc.

1996  The study identifies Muria peninsula as a suitable site for a light water nuclear power plant.

1998  Asian Financial Crisis delays Muria project.

2010  Popular dissent in Muria Peninsula leads Batan to consider Bangka Belitung to host power plants, setting on hotly contested plans to build reactors in West Bangka and South Bangka.

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Malaysia adopts German solar technology model

Posted on December 3, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

GERMANY is the poster child for Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) success in promoting renewable energy (RE). The country’s Renewable Energy Law which was passed in 2004 led to a massive growth in solar and wind energy, making the country a global leader in green technology. It currently has the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the world.

Malaysia’s FiT is based on the German model but comes with a quota system for each RE technology. The quota is also to ensure there is enough money to pay for RE purchases by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to avoid the pitfalls other European countries have experienced. TNB customers in Peninsular Malaysia will have to pay a levy of 1% out of their total electricity bills starting this month to facilitate the FiT.

“For households, if their bill averages RM300 to RM400 a month, they should be prepared to pay an additional levy of RM3 to RM4 a month from this month. There is a price to be paid for cleaner air and the public and community must share in undertaking this responsibility,” says Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) board member Pola Singh,

Showing the way: The solar power plant ‘Finow Tower I and II’ under construction on a former military airfield in Finowfurt, Germany, It will be Europe’s largest solar power plant measuring the size of 260 football fields, according to project developer Solarhybrid. – EPA

He says heavy industrial consumers such as the steel and cement industries may feel the “pinch” but they should regard the extra payment as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“Hopefully this will cause them to lower their consumption by being more energy-efficient. At the same time, they can be innovative by setting up solar panel systems on their roof tops and on unused land to export’ green electricity to the national grid operator,” he says.

According to Seda, Malaysia has chosen the FiT System because the FiT introduced in other countries has “proven to be effective and efficient” in developing new markets. The concept of FiT is simple and has low administrative costs making it a highly effective tool for boosting RE.

“Germany is the first country which has successfully implemented FiT. It is notable that in the first 10 years of implementing FiT, Germany has been able to increase its RE substantially, making it the world leader in RE with a contribution of 16.1% to total electricity consumption in 2009.

“This has also created 300,000 green jobs. Furthermore, Germany has not only developed the most dynamic solar PV electricity market but also a flourishing and robust PV industry as a result of the FiT and this is truly a remarkable feat for a country that is not one of the sunniest in the world,” Seda says.

FiT is currently the world’s most popular RE policy mechanism. FiT offer a guaranteed purchase agreement for electricity generated from RE sources and these agreements are generally for the long-term, some up to 20 years.

“We are fortunate that our RE development framework is based on insights gained from the experience of various countries both developed and developing. For instance we chose the FiT system instead of other RE policies such as Renewable Portfolio Standards, Renewable Energy Standards and net metering as it is the best given our local conditions,” says Pola Singh.

He says the guaranteed tariff in the FiT lowers the risk of RE investment and therefore reduces the cost of capital investments.

According to a recent report by Renewables 2011 Global Status Report by REN21, more than 80 jurisdictions around the world now use or have used FiT to pay for new renewable generation. However, each country has a slightly different FiT and the more well known examples of FiT is in developed countries such as Germany and France.

REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) convenes international multi-stakeholder leaders to enable a rapid global transition to renewable energy. REN21 promotes renewable energy to meet the needs of both industrialised and developing countries that are driven by climate change, energy security, development and poverty alleviation.

According to the report, FiT now dominates policy for renewable energy worldwide. There is 60% more jurisdictions (states, provinces, and entire countries) using feed-in tariffs than are now using quota systems.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin says the RE policies continue to be a driving force behind the increasing shares of RE around the world.

“Nearly 200 countries have RE policy targets or support policies, and the FiT remains the most widely implemented policy tool because more than 90 jurisdictions around the world now use or have used FiTs to pay for renewable power generation,” he says.

As more and more RE policies are adopted in various countries, the landscape of RE use is also changing.

Although RE policies started largely in Europe and the United States, a report by UNEP, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011, states that developing countries collectively have more than half of global renewable power capacity.

Chin says one of the hallmarks of a sound RE policy is the ability of the policy to create new industries and generate new jobs. Globally, there are more than 3.5 million direct jobs in the RE industries.

The European Union alone has more than 400,000 people employed in the RE sector. Total investment in RE reached US$211bil in 2010, up from US$160bil in 2009, and is still experiencing a steady annual increase.

As of 2009, FiT policies have been enacted in many countries including Australia, Brazil, China, Greece, Iran, Israel, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, most countries in Europe and in some states in the United States. It is also gaining momentum in other countries such as India and Mongolia. In South-East Asia, Thailand and Philippines have also implemented a FiT mechanism.

First Solar Malaysia senior director of public affairs for Asia-Pacific Ahmad Hadri Haris says 2011 has seen annual installation of RE around the world surpassed that of fossil fuel.

“This clearly indicates that RE is gaining significant momentum and will contribute to energy mix in many countries. The leading country in terms of RE deployment is Germany, due to the innovative and sustainable FiT scheme. Other countries are following the examples set by the country,” he says.

Germany’s FiT has been a huge success and is often regarded as the best example of an effective FiT. Germany’s Feed-in Law underwent a major restructuring in 2000, being re-framed as the Act on Granting Priority to Renewable Energy Sources. In its new form, it has proved to be the world’s most effective policy framework at accelerating the deployment of RE technologies.

Germany was the first European country to adopt a FiT programme in the early 90s, with a tariff based on a percentage of the retail rate of electricity.

Denmark and Spain implemented their versions of this model later on. However, the tariff did not account for fluctuating electricity costs, and many investors were not comfortable with the resulting uncertainty.

In 2000, Germany and Denmark altered their FiTs to cost-based models, in which rates are set based on the cost of generation plus a reasonable rate of return. These governments mandated grid access for renewable energy, guaranteed payments for 20 years, and offered differentiated rates based on technology, project size, resource intensity, and application.

Many countries, including Spain and France, have since adopted this model. These changes were the catalyst for the dramatic renewable energy growth witnessed by Europe, particularly Germany and Spain, over the past decade.

With Germany leading the clean energy race for the future, it is still too early to say whether other countries will follow in its footsteps and emulate what Germany has done, amidst rapidly depleting fossil fuels.

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Seda receives good response to FiT, number of applications on the rise

Posted on December 3, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

THE Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (Seda) saw a flurry of applications for Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the number of applications has been increasing.

As of 10am yesterday, there was a total of 229 applications compared with 168 applications received at noon on Thursday. Out of the 229 applications, 201 applied for solar photovoltaic (PV), nine applications each for biomass and small hydro while biogas received 10 applications.

According to the Seda portal, there is only a balance of 9.23MW for solar energy from the quota for individual applicants for the next three years.

For other renewable resources, the quota available between 2012 and 2014 are 57.35 MW for biogas, 15.88 (biogas-landfill), 91.97 MW (biomass), 80 MW (biomass-solid waste), and 99.73 MW (small hydro).

When contacted, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin said he was not surprised by the interest shown in solar (PV) and that the quota was exhausted in a short time with only a small portion left for small household connections.

“As regards to other renewable energy sources such as biomass, biogas and mini hydro, the response or demand has been rather low and parties who are interested should look into these areas and submit their bids online,” he said.

Seda chief executive officer Badriyah Abdul Malek said when the e-FiT online system was released to public, the traffic on the servers was beyond what was anticipated during the stress test conducted on the system.

“There was a lot of incoming traffic which flooded the gateway to our servers and our ICT team had to change the queuing logic for the servers.”

“Whether the servers were under DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attack or there were genuinely so many trying to access our servers remains to be investigated by our ICT team,” Badriyah says.

At the end of each half year, Seda would review the unallocated RE quota and decide how it can be utilised for the next half year.

In addition, Seda will also continuously monitor the trend of the market price of these renewable resources so that the FiT rates are adjusted to reflect current conditions as provided under Section 18 of the Renewable Energy Act 2011.

For applicants who have submitted their feed-in approval (FiA) applications, Seda will require 14 days for verification of submitted online documents, receive payment for application fees (only applicable to those RE systems larger than 72kW) and the submission of declaration form in compliance with legal requirement.

Seda will issue a FIA certificate once the verification process and procedures are completed.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Photovoltaic Industry Association president Shamsudin Khalid suggested that there should be a balloting system and the names of the winners should be published.

“Other countries have a cut off date and after the applications are submitted the authorities would review and process successful applications like what was done in Thailand, India and the other European countries. Digital technology is just a tool, but human intervention is still the master,” he says.

“With a 1% levy on the public for the Renewable Energy Fund, the public ought to know how the money is utilised,” he said.

With such a good response towards solar energy, the Government should grant a larger quota for solar which would produce spin-offs for the industry, he said.

 

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Keen interest in clean energy

Posted on December 3, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

EVEN before the ink on the Renewable Energy Act 2011 dried, companies have already made a beeline towards providing clean energy to the national power grid.

Leading the pack is Cypark Resources Bhd. Listed on Bursa Malaysia in October 2010, it is a specialist in landfills and its job mainly revolves around the rehabilitation of old polluting dumping grounds.

Pola Singh: ‘ We should win over these consumers by turning them into green consumers.’

Another interesting aspect of its work was that it uses the vast open space of the landfill to generate power. It harvests the biogas that is emitted from the biodegrading material in the landfill and it has put in place an array of solar panels on the top of the landfill to generate electricity.

The company aims to generate, in three years, between 30MW and 50MW of power from three sources – solar, biogas and biomass – and its first solar park, measuring 12.14ha, will be in Pajam, Negri Sembilan.

Besides its Pajam project, Cypark has access to 17 landfill more sites in Negri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Perlis which may eventually be converted into renewable energy (RE) parks.

AWC Bhd also announce that it expects its 1MW capacity solar farm to start operations by the first quarter of 2012, saying that it is still finalising its agreement with a state government agency.

Berjaya Corp Bhd has also submitted a proposal to the Government to build a 100MW solar power plant in Bukit Tagar, Selangor. Teaming up with South Korean partner Posco Engineering & Construction Co Ltd, the project is projected to cost RM800mil to RM1bil.

However, only 50MW is allocated for 2011/2012 while 100MW quota will be made available in 2013 and 2014. It remains to be seen how these companies will compete to get a slice of this lucrative business given the limited quota for solar power.

The rush for solar energy stems from the higher price it fetches and there is zero issue on feedstock compared with biogas or biomass. Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) will pay up to RM1.40 per kWh of energy produced from solar farms it buys from. Due to the overwhelming response to solar PV, the FiT (Feed-in tariff) applications for solar PV are limited to a maximum 5 MWp rated capacity.

First Solar Malaysia senior director of public affairs for Asia-Pacific Ahmad Hadri Haris says there is tremendous potential for RE in Malaysia, in particular from solar, biomass, biogas and hydro.

“Earlier studies conducted by the Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic Project in 2009 identified a market potential of 3GW by 2020 and can it can grow to 7GW by 2030. In reality more MW from RE can be derived provided the market conditions are conducive and supportive,” he says.

He says there are other RE potential sources of energy such as wind and geothermal but this may need to be further assessed to find the suitability of applications.

“The solar potential can come from buildings and rooftops. Thus, there is no need for land use and this method can also improve the delivery of electricity to the urban areas.

“For biomass or biogas, most of the feedstock would come from the palm oil industry. But the resource can also come from other agriculture, wood and waste treatment industries which have not been considered until now,” he says.

Before the FiT system, the rate TNB pays to renewable power producers is 21 sen per kWh, while the average domestic rate that consumers pay to TNB is 27.6 sen per kWh.

Sime Darby Bhd and Felda Global Group have also joined the biomass and biogas to energy bandwagon.

Felda Global is a leader in RE projects with 56 biogas plants, two power plants, six compost plants, two mini gasifier plants and one fuel pellet plant all utilising biomass waste and palm oil mill effluent as feedstock.

Sime and Felda are also in the final stages of discussions with a special-purpose vehicle, Mybiomass Sdn Bhd that will facilitate a sustainable supply of biomass through co-ordinated collection and aggregation for the use in the downstream biotechnology industry.

Fitters Diversified Bhd is also venturing into the RE business to diversify its earnings stream.

It has leased a palm oil mill in Kedah to process empty fresh fruit bunches from oil palm trees and wastes from palm oil mills, converting them into dried long fibres. It will also produce biofuel pellets from dried short fibres and palm kernel shell.

Biomass boiler manufacturer Boilermech Holdings Bhd stands to benefit from its exposure to the RE sector in Malaysia, coupled with growing demand for boilers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Solomon Islands.

As a 35% associate company of food and agriculture group QL Resources Bhd, Boilermech has been supplying boilers to QL’s marine product and palm oil divisions. It also services Wilmar International Ltd and Sime.

According to the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda), RE players will be required to submit the work plan of their RE installation and plant. Once approval is granted, Seda will closely monitor each RE installation and plant until the commencement date. The monitoring is to prevent the applicant from “sitting” on their allocated licence and quota.

A notice will be sent to the applicant for an explanation in the event of delay. If the RE player failed to explain satisfactorily, the licence would be revoked. The fund and the allocated quota committed to the applicant would be released and returned to the system for other applicants.

Funding for the FiT scheme is not an issue as consumers would pay a 1% levy to cover the costs associated with the FiT scheme. It has also received a soft loan of RM300mil to kick-start its operations.

“Malaysia is unique in the sense that this is the first time that the Government does not have to fork out any money or provide subsidies for this project to take off. The key contributors will be the electricity consumers,” says Seda board member Pola Singh.

He says electricity consumers are key to the success of the RE business. “Their understanding is very important. This heightening of the awareness of the paying public’ should be given due emphasis. Without their contribution, the RE industry wouldn’t be possible. We should win over these consumers by turning them into green’ consumers,” he says.

The question now is how the authorities would implement the RE strategies taking into account some companies who are eager to make a quick buck by riding on the country’s vision to go green.

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