Shortcomings in efforts to fight climate change

01 Aug 2019 / 11:48 H.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has taken some positive steps in its effort to combat climate change. Unfortunately, it still comes up short in select areas, according to a lawyer who focuses specifically on the energy sector.

“The government has introduced legislation to address the pressing issues related to climate change but these new laws have a limited scope,” lawyer, Crystal Wong, said.

Furthermore, the higher cost of green energy has not gone down well with consumers, she told theSun in an interview recently.

Wong’s findings will be presented in her research paper titled ‘Climate Change and Energy: Malaysia’s Energy Policy – Where Roads Pave with Good Intentions Lead’.

Wong said that under the Renewable Energy Act 2011, there is a cash incentive to encourage consumers to generate electricity for their own use and to sell the excess energy to the national grid.

However, the energy must be generated through the use of renewable resources such as biogas, biomass, small hydro powered generators and geothermal plants.

Payment rates vary with installed capacity.

For instance, if a home generator has the capacity to produce four kilowatts of electricity every hour, he is paid 60 sen for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of excess electricity that he sells to the national grid.

Assuming he has enough to sell 400kWh per month, that will earn him RM240.

A home generator of renewable energy can cost RM20,000 to RM30,000.

At returns of RM240 a month, it takes seven to 10 years to recoup the investment.

Wong said another shortcoming of the Act is that it caters only to small-scale renewable generation projects with install capacity of not more than 30 megawatts.

This has led to the introduction of other support mechanisms such as net energy metering (NEM) and large-scale solar (LSS) photovoltaic plants.

Under the NEM, consumers could indirectly own photovoltaic panels that could earn them rebates in their energy bills.

Wong said the availability of cheap fossil fuel in Malaysia made green legislation for power production “tricky”.

“Utilising green energy can be more expensive so people are not willing to go for it,” she added.

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