Saturday, May 14, 2011

RE push needs charging

Currently, RE accounts for less than 1 per cent of the energy mix. The country's energy demand is largely met by fossil fuels.
The "green" target is even more ambitious in the long term as by 2020, RE is envisioned to contribute 11 per cent or 2,080MW of overall electricity generation in the country.

We failed before under the Small RE Power Programme (SREP). Launched in 2001, SREP encouraged the private sector to undertake grid-connected small power generation projects using renewable resources. RE developers can sell a maximum of 10MW of electricity to the national grid while the total target was to generate 350MW of power.
It was not so successful. Out of the 22 companies that secured the licence for SREP, only two took off and we have yet to achieve the 350MW target," Professor Ir Dr Abd Halim Shamsuddin from Universiti Tenaga Nasional's Centre for RE told the writer and some other journalists during a media retreat in Tioman Island recently.

An RE eco-system is costly to build. It is a fact, not a notion. Many of us agree that the RE has a bright future here. But until the issue of high capital cost is resolved, the technology is no longer on the learning curve and design exclusivity is no more a setback, we know that Malaysia is not going to fully tap its green energy resources such as solar, biogas, biomass and hydro.

Of course, we also have to deal with reliability issue as well as transmission and integration of RE on the national power grid.

On the high capital cost, one of the primary reasons can be partially explained by the simple dynamics of demand and pricing.

The use of RE has yet to reach a large enough scale to become price-competitive. Thus, the private sector seems to be taking a wait-and-see attitude, particularly given that the economic viability of RE is also dependent on the price of fossil fuels. The more expensive fossil fuels are, the easier it may be for RE to compete.

RE needs intervention to grow. In other words, it needs support from the government and a proactive role from the private sector.

Fortunately, we have a push from the Renewable Energy Act. With the act, interested parties can develop RE in a safe and secured manner as the generation can be sold to Tenaga Nasional Bhd and other power utility firms over a guaranteed period.

The RE Act is expected to be enforced this month or June. Essentially, the Act will enable individuals to make money by selling electricity generated from renewable resources at home to utility companies.

In other words, if you have a solar photovoltaic (PV) generator at home, you can apply to connect this to the grid, and get paid for selling the electricity to utility firms over an agreed timeframe.

However, solar PV system is not cheap. You need to spend some RM20,000 for a 1KW of solar PV panel. A typical PV system at home boasts of five 1KW panels, and that means an investment of RM100,000.

Professor Halim said the 985MW target could be far-fetched unless a single large entity is established to take up the mammoth task of pulling the resources together and generating power efficiently. Perhaps, Sustainable Energy Development Authority (a key component of the RE Act) is the answer.

Read more: RE push needs charging

No comments:

Post a Comment