SMART EN­ERGY CON­SUMP­TION

The search for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­sources is an end­less jour­ney if en­ergy con­sump­tion is ‘al­lowed’ to in­crease without im­ple­ment­ing green prac­tices

New Straits Times - - Opinion - shahino@iais.org.my The writer is a Re­search Fel­low at the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Is­lamic Stud­ies Malaysia

EN­ERGY plays an im­por­tant role in our lives. It comes in sev­eral forms that can be utilised to keep peo­ple warm dur­ing cold weather, pro­vide food, im­prove trans­porta­tion and in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity. When en­ergy is utilised ef­fi­ciently, it will bring great com­fort to our lives. How­ever, en­ergy con­sump­tion has been in­creas­ing in re­cent decades as the world pop­u­la­tion keeps grow­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions (UN) re­port, the cur­rent world pop­u­la­tion of 7.4 bil­lion in 2016 is pro­jected to in­crease by one bil­lion over the next 10 years and reach 9.6 bil­lion by 2050.

Be­sides pop­u­la­tion, the stan­dard of liv­ing for many peo­ple in devel­op­ing coun­tries is in­creas­ing, which in turn re­sults in the grow­ing en­ergy de­mand.

As a devel­op­ing coun­try, Malaysia is not im­mune to the trend as the En­ergy Com­mis­sion re­ported that en­ergy con­sump­tion was in­creas­ing year by year.

This ac­tiv­ity does not only im­pact the the en­vi­ron­ment, but in­curs great cost to the coun­try that re­lies heav­ily on this re­source.

It was re­ported on April 1 that Malaysia’s power gen­er­a­tion in­dus­try spent RM15.1 bil­lion to gen­er­ate 120,059 gi­gawatt-hours (GWh) of elec­tric­ity for 8.45 mil­lion cus­tomers in Penin­su­lar Malaysia.

To get a clear pic­ture of fos­sil fuel de­pen­dency, the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency in its “World En­ergy Out­look 2007” stated that be­tween now and 2030, the global en­ergy needs were ex­pected to grow, and fos­sil fu­els would re­main the dom­i­nant source.

In or­der to re­duce fos­sil fuel de­pen­dency, the en­ergy mix is in­tro­duced as an al­ter­na­tive mea­sure to face its shortage. In Malaysia, this en­ergy mix strat­egy has suc­cess­fully re­duced de­pen­dency on oil sig­nif­i­cantly, from 87 per cent in 1980, to less than one per cent to­day.

How­ever, since the en­ergy mix is only based on other fos­sil fu­els, the de­pen­dency on coal and nat­u­ral gas to gen­er­ate en­ergy is in­creased to 87 per cent for both, while only around 10 per cent comes from hy­dro­elec­tric power. The de­pen­dency on fos­sil fuel can no longer last, forc­ing us to seek al­ter­na­tive sources.

Re­cently, the Malaysian gov­ern­ment be­gan to con­sider nu­clear en­ergy as part of the na­tional en­ergy mix, since the coun­try’s en­ergy con­sump­tion keeps in­creas­ing, but the main en­ergy source, which is fos­sil fu­els, is run­ning out.

Ac­cord­ing to the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) 2016-2020 un­der An­chor­ing Growth on Peo­ple agenda, it is stated that the use of nu­clear power as an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­source will be ex­plored.

The Malaysian Nu­clear Agency added that, “Malaysia would fur­ther ex­plore the de­ploy­ment of nu­clear power as an op­tion for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion for post2020 in Penin­su­lar Malaysia”.

It is al­most con­firmed that Malaysia will be hav­ing a nu­clear power plant sooner or later, as stated by Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, who said that Malaysia’s nu­clear power pro­gramme will only be able to kick off af­ter 2030, sub­ject to the ap­proval of the Atomic En­ergy Reg­u­la­tion Bill.

Cur­rently, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of nu­clear en­ergy as part of the en­ergy mix has a few chal­lenges as the gov­ern­ment and re­lated agen­cies need to con­vince the pub­lic about the safety of nu­clear power, to iden­tify the source of fi­nanc­ing for the nu­clear pro­gramme, to ob­tain ap­proval for plant site and ac­quire pub­lic sup­port on lo­cal­ity.

It can be seen that the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment is strug­gling to ful­fil the coun­try’s en­ergy de­mand, which in­volves com­pli­cated pro­cesses of build­ing nu­clear power fa­cil­ity.

As I see it, the search for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­sources is an end­less jour­ney if the en­ergy con­sump­tion is “al­lowed” to in­crease without im­ple­ment­ing “green prac­tices”.

“Green prac­tices” can lead to more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and eco­log­i­cally re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sions and life­styles, which can help pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and sus­tain its nat­u­ral re­sources for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

There­fore, we could do our part re­spon­si­bly in so­ci­ety by con­sid­er­ing “green prac­tice” through “en­ergy ef­fi­ciency” im­ple­men­ta­tion in or­der to re­duce the rise of en­ergy con­sump­tion. Ba­si­cally, “en­ergy ef­fi­ciency” is the goal to re­duce the amount of en­ergy re­quired to pro­vide prod­ucts and ser­vices.

This is one of the best mea­sures, which we could take as our own ini­tia­tive, to ad­dress the is­sue of in­creas­ing global en­ergy de­mand.

Among “en­ergy ef­fi­ciency” prac­tices that we could also con­sider are: re­place in­ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances with more ef­fi­cient ones; re­duce loads to any me­chan­i­cal ap­pli­ances that re­quire more op­er­at­ing en­ergy; up­grade build­ing en­velopes such as im­prov­ing in­su­la­tion and roof­ing, to hav­ing good air ven­ti­la­tion to sup­port the nat­u­ral cool­ing sys­tem; and, use of en­ergy-sav­ing con­trol sys­tems in most of elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances if and when pos­si­ble.

At the same time, we can also start by en­sur­ing our next pur­chases are “en­ergy ef­fi­cient” prod­ucts and equip­ment.

These prac­tices are ac­tu­ally in line with the Is­lamic teach­ing to be mod­er­ate in the use of the re­sources, to be as­sid­u­ous in their use (Q al-Baqarah 2:1-13) and avoid ex­trav­a­gance from wast­ing it (Q al-A’raf, 7:85). It will al­ways be our chal­lenge, and not just the gov­ern­ment’s, to ad­dress the is­sue.

There­fore, self-aware­ness and — timely ini­tia­tive through “en­ergy ef­fi­ciency” im­ple­men­ta­tion is very im­por­tant to con­serve the ex­ist­ing re­sources for fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

‘Green prac­tices’ can lead to more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and eco­log­i­cally re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sions and life­styles, which can help pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and sus­tain its nat­u­ral re­sources for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

FILE PIC

Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment Datuk Nancy Shukri has stated that Malaysia’s nu­clear power pro­gramme will only be able to kick off af­ter 2030, sub­ject to ap­proval of the Atomic En­ergy Reg­u­la­tion Bill.

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