CPNE addresses Malaysia’s ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 as part of the 12th Malaysia Plan
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, during the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan recently, announced some good news about the green energy sector. The announcement included the country’s ambitious commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.
To realise this goal, policymakers, supported by industry players and individuals, need to develop a clear plan. They also need to predict the future of the energy transition to drive and accelerate these decarbonisation efforts.
Timely with the announcement, a discussion ‘Clean power & new energy predictions and transitions in 2021 and beyond’ was held during the Clean Power New Energy 2021. The panel discussion featured industry players, namely Dr Chen Shiun, Davis Chong and Ynse De Boer.
Moderator Azman Nasir, the Regional Director of Energy Industries Council, began the session by asking a question on policies and programmes that would propel renewable energy projects in the country.
“We can come up with as many policies and as many programmes as possible. However, these (policies and programmes) alone are not going to get us there. We need the support and understanding from the wider community,” said Chen, the Vice President for Rural Electrification at Sarawak Energy Berhad.
Chen believed there should be an emphasis on climate change awareness. Support from all sectors, especially the financial sector, was equally important to move climate initiatives forward. He emphasised that customers, as the users of energy, had a more significant part to play.
“They (customers), in a way, have to demand change, saying we would like to have better energy and cleaner energy,” he added.
Boer, Vice president, Global Lead Sustainability at Envision Digital, opined that moving immediately to policies and programmes was like jumping the gun. He emphasised the need for a plan to provide the purpose to the said policies and procedures.
“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen that comprehensive plan entirely yet. That would also include things like, for example, Southeast Asia’s connected grid. What role would that play?
“In terms of policies and procedures, the two most effective ones that I’ve seen in other parts of the world are putting a price on carbon, a carbon tax and removal of subsidies for fossil fuels,” said Boer.
Chong, President of Malaysia Photovoltaic Industry Association (MPIA), stated there was significant development in terms of utility-related policies in Malaysia. However, he believed the country still could have better policies than the existing ones.
“We’ve seen the development from LSS1 to LSS4, how mature is the tender policy from the Energy Commission. Then, we’ve seen how well developed – from FiT to NEM 3.0,” said Chong, adding that Malaysia could set a more ambitious goal than the 31 per cent target.
Transition towards clean energy
Chong agreed the energy trilemma was a genuine concern in the energy transition. However, rather than seeing it as a roadblock or bottleneck to the change, people need to think of it as a challenge that can be overcome.
“Now I see that we have a research team. We have government agencies and government ministries that are putting effort to tackle those concerns. We need to move a bit faster,” he opined.
In the context of Sarawak, Chen said: “We are still a developing economy. We have the aspiration that by 2030, we will achieve the living standard of a
developed nation. So, what do we need to get there? We need investment and good jobs for our people. And energy plays a huge role in creating these opportunities.”
Regarding the energy trilemma, Chen believed affordability was the most crucial element among the three as it involved the people. He said the focus would lie on how resources could create opportunities for the region’s economic growth.
“We have this climate goal, but we should not forget about the people. We need to make sure that the three things (security, sustainability, affordability) that we mentioned are there,” Chen said.
“Many years ago, if there’s one big difference in this part of the world, it’s the access to energy and access to affordable energy. It’s laudable what Sarawak Energy has been doing in that space,” Boer added.
Touching on digitalisation opportunities in the energy sector, Boer said: “We all know about the issues with the intermittency of renewable energy.
“We all know about the importance of predicting all of that and orchestrating that intermittency, both on the supply side of the renewable energy value chain and the demand side.
“So, being able to predict all of that, and then to be able to orchestrate all of that is absolutely imperative.”
He then mentioned that grid congestion was an issue everywhere and not just exclusive to Malaysia. In adding more renewable energy into the grid, Boer said it was a constant
catch-up game where companies and regulators had to solve one issue after another.
“I guess that’s the reality of the energy transition,” he said. — @Green