Saturday, May 18, 2024

ST Seeks Maximum Power With Heightened Efficiency

Electricity is, undoubtedly, the most important resource in modern society, as it – literally and figuratively – powers the engine of the economy. Malaysia is a good example of that, as advances in living standards and economic development are commensurate with a rise in electricity consumption. The challenge with this situation is that while demand will keep on rising as the economy grows, supply is finite. In order to address this, the Energy Commission is determined to enhance consumers’ awareness and adoption of newer and more energy-efficient technology.

Increasing Efficiency in Supply

In the midst of the ever-growing energy needs that come with the advancement of the economy, the efficiency of the supply side – namely the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity – becomes increasingly important. And the Commission is spearheading the way to lead the nation’s power supply into the future.

To make Malaysia’s energy supply more efficient, the development of ultra-supercritical stations is extremely promising. These stations are capable of generating steam at a higher temperature and pressure compared to super-critical technology which generates steam at lower temperatures. Such stations are also more efficient in terms of energy production with a value of 40 percent as compared to super-critical units, which have around 36 percent efficiency.

According to Ir. Roslee Esman, the Commission’s Director of Industry Operations, there are already three ultra-supercritical power plants in the country, namely Janamanjung Unit 4, Tanjuing Bin and Manjung 5. However, there are several conditions preventing the widespread use of such technology, such as consumer demands and existing supply policies.

To fully implement the ultra-super critical power plants, it will take more time as existing power purchase agreements need to be evaluated so as to not affect stability in supply. Gradually but surely, the fuel mix can then be adapted from the conventional supply, to one that has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

“We (the Commission) are doing the most within our power to highly recommend the use of ultra super-critical power plants when tenders are opened,” said Ir. Roslee. With a need for sustainable energy production options, ultra super-critical power stations differ from conventional coal fire stations in terms of being able to produce more energy using lesser fuel. By burning less coal or finite resources, there is less carbon released and less environmental degradation.

National Plan of Action

The drive towards greater efficiency in the use of electrical energy is outlined in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) 2016-2025. According to Zulkiflee Umar, the Deputy Director of Energy Efficiency and Conservation at the Energy Commission, NEEAP is based on similar plans by EU countries, and aims to reduce electricity consumption in Malaysia by 8 percent by 2025. It is particularly focused on industrial and commercial consumers, as they are responsible for the lion’s share of electrical energy demand in the country.

In order for the plan to be effective, the Commission aims to be more proactive in its campaigns to raise awareness of electrical energy consumption among consumers. This will lead to them adopting energy saving measures such as implementing management practices and purchasing electrical equipment that meet the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) requirements.

The Commission is continuously encouraging consumers, particularly building owners, to implement energy audits. This will help them become better informed of their level of electricity usage and the ways to reduce it. Other methods include advocating and disseminating innovative no-cost and low-cost methods such as switch/wiring adjustments. This is where a switch is adjusted to control only one light instead of five, making it easier to turn on just the light source needed and reducing electricity usage.

Under MEPS, domestic electrical appliances are given a star rating according to their energy efficiency category with five stars being the most efficient. This is especially useful for consumers as certain appliances, such as air-conditioners, have become must-haves in many middle-income homes. These, however, consume a lot of electricity which leads to higher bills. As such, using more energy efficient appliances will allow them to reduce the cost of energy consumed and their electricity bills.

“Ultra-supercritical plants are among the most efficient around, and produce electricity at an efficiency rate of 40 percent compared with super-critical stations that produce electricity at a rate of 36 percent.”

–       Ir Roslee Esman, Director of Industry Operations

Leading by Example

As the entity entrusted with championing energy efficiency, the Commission has been entrusted with monitoring the performance of more than government buildings in Malaysia. It does this by determining the Building Energy Index (BEI) of each building, which measures the use of electricity per square metre of space per year (kWh/sq.m/year). Like MEPS, BEI utilises a star rating system, where the higher number of stars indicate better energy efficiency.

Incidentally, the Commission is also leading by example as its Diamond Building headquarters is one of the most efficient in the country, with consumption of 65 kWh/sq.m/year. In comparison, a typical Malaysian office building averages around 200-220 kWh/sq.m/year.

It should be noted that the Diamond Building was purpose-designed and built to be energy efficient, using methods such as slab cooling and maximising daylight use. Incidentally, the Commission is also assisting companies to be energy efficient, with one way being the employment of Registered Electrical Energy Managers registered by the Energy Commission.  

“NEEAP is a short for National Energy Efficiency Action Plan from 2016 to 2025. It is an action plan to reduce the consumption of electricity in various sectors in Malaysia by 8 percent by 2025, and which started in 2016.”

–       Zulkiflee Umar, Head of Energy Efficiency and Conservation  

Managing Efficiency

The responsibility of a Registered Electrical Energy Manager (REEM) is to ensure that installations consuming a large amount of electricity (equal or more than 3 million kWh for a period of 6 consecutive months) implement energy-saving measures and submit a periodical report of their consumption and measures to the Energy Commission.

REEM functions on a consultancy basis, monitoring and advising companies on their energy management in order to reduce both cost and inefficiency. The above mentioned initiatives are part of the requirements under the Efficient Management of Electrical Energy Regulations (EMEER) 2008.

As of 2018, there are 1,079 Registered Electrical Energy Managers managing 1,995 installations. These installations account for about 80 percent of total industry’s electricity consumption. That being said, Zulkiflee Umar revealed that the Commission is constantly working towards increasing the number of REEM. This is due to the increase of awareness amongst consumers of the importance of energy efficiency and conservation.

As technological needs increase by the day, so too does the demand for electricity. Fortunately, there are enough opportunities at every corner to reduce the consumption of electricity without overly affecting the lives of consumers. The Energy Commission will make full use of all opportunities to further Malaysia’s transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly, or from an overly energy dependent country to an energy efficient one.

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