Penang has long way to go in becoming 'greenest state'

Many local experts and leaders are going around the globe giving talks about switching to greener energy but why Penang and Malaysia are still hesitant to do so remains a mystery.

According to Malaysian Energy Commission, in 2015, coal (42 percent) was the second highest electricity generator in Malaysia after natural gas (46 percent), resulting in a devastating amount of carbon emission.

World leaders are rallying all nations towards the common cause of shouldering ambitious efforts to battle against climate change with initiatives such as the Paris Agreement 2015.

This agreement works to intensify actions to tackle carbon emission issues while venturing into a sustainable low-carbon future. It also aims to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In conjunction with this, world leaders have broadened their views and widened their mindsets to consider solutions like green energy.

Renewable energy - a burden or economy driver?

According to a research paper written by Abdul Halim Shamsuddin, the introduction of renewable energy in Malaysia was as the fifth fuel strategy in the energy-mix under the National Energy Policy 2001.

In my opinion, it should be at least the second or third fuel strategy as we are already surrounded with abundant energy sources such as waves, sunlight, and wind. 

We are seeking greener options but the solutions are right under our noses.

Actually, the real issue here is the cost of renewable energy.

It must also be noted that these sources have limitations - we cannot attain sunlight for 24 hours, neither do we have continuous wind daily to generate energy.

There is also the additional cost of building storage plants or secondary backup plants to avoid any complications later.

In the United States, Donald Trump had planned to withdraw from the Paris Agreement 2015. He suggested to replenish the dying coal industries rather than opt for renewable energy as he does not believe in climate change. He added that the cost of setting up solar plants is much higher than coal plants.

However, this is a one-time investment and results in a cheaper energy source for the long run.

Currently, the energy sector in Peninsular Malaysia is monopolised by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and it has plans to venture into the renewable energy business soon. This will be a tough competition for SMEs in the industry.

In my opinion, as a private company wholly owned by the government, TNB should be working more as a catalyst to promote renewable energy rather than focusing solely on profit-making in the energy sector.

This will help the community access and harness green energy through the government without much worry of cost and accessibility.

With the aim of 40 percent carbon emission reduction by 2020, the current new government will explore and redevelop Malaysia by assuring and reevaluating the policies subjected to green technology development as well as the renewable energy sector.

By 2025, Malaysia is expected to increase its generation of renewable energy percentage from two percent to 20 percent while reducing the obsession on coal power plant.

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Written by Naventhan Ahrasan | Published on malaysiakini | 7th August 2018