Friday, December 16, 2011

Preliminary Analysis on Public Acceptance of Nuclear Power Plant in Malaysia

This survey is sent to emails of professional workers in various fields around Malaysia; with age ranging from 23 – 60 years to ensure different opinions from different perspectives are obtained and accuracy in evaluation of the results. Another analysis will be conducted if there is significant progress in terms of the numbers of survey submitted by the public. 

Clearly, it appears that those who have nuclear-related background responded yes to the development of nuclear energy in Malaysia. Those who obtained information from internet and television documentaries are having different thoughts of nuclear issues. Those who said no could be because of obtaining information from anti-nuclear activists, who continuously chanting the nightmares nuclear plant would bring to us without proven, justified facts and reality of energy generation. These are the reasons why people are being negative to nuclear energy. 


All the respondents who support nuclear energy agreed that nuclear is green because they understand the scientific fact of reprocessing nuclear spent fuel is possible; it is just more economical to mine for new uranium ores at the moment. The terms green is awarded despite mining is not a green activity understanding that there is no energy generation that is totally green, not even solar, wind, or hydro. Mining of uranium is very much different form coal mining, where it is not as destructive as the public had imagined. They believe that the amount of high-level nuclear waste is too little when compared to the capacity of electricity generated; especially when compared to many other mainstreams electricity sources. Those who disagreed still believed we could rely on solar, wind and hydro power; which is incapable of supplying the base-load energy consumption as of now. They are in fear of the radioactive waste issues of waste and the dangers it would bring to the environment. 


Most of the respondents stated that the main reason to support nuclear energy is its viability and sustainability; where continuous energy supply from nuclear power plant is ensured and nuclear fuel is available for thousands of years through reprocessing, tapping into sea water uranium extraction and converting other fertile sources into fissile uranium. Other strong reasons are to keep electric tariff low as proven by France and reducing CO2 emission. Those who oppose nuclear power plant seems to think that investing in nuclear energy is only for self-profiting, gaining to the advanced country status and most of all, opening a lot of business and professional jobs to certain people. These opinions are formed due to their political stands and improper education on nuclear related issues. This is showed by the fact that the respondents are unaware of radiation that is actually allowed to be released from a nuclear power plant annually is much lesser than radiation of ash released coal-fired power plant. (Living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant and coal power plant; we are exposed to 0.09µSievert and 0.3µSievert of radiation, respectively.)









Regardless of their opinions on nuclear energy, the main concerns remain the same. The highest concern is the management of nuclear power plant. This is a very worthy opinion. A single mistake could be a grave one; not necessarily the loss of lives, but the unimaginable psychological effects it could have to the public which will surely halt the development of nuclear industry; either continuing operations of the nuclear power plant or constructing new plant. The respondents addressed the ecological impacts to the environment and the destruction of the ecosystem caused by nuclear power plant. Environmentalists should help the public to understand that a nuclear power plant does not cause any of these. It does not pollute the sea; the radioactive water used is not released anywhere, it is contained inside the reactor itself as it is a part of the system. Construction-wise, the land required for a nuclear power plant is obviously much smaller than any other power plant. The mining process and waste issues have been highlighted earlier. The other concerns that need to be prioritized are the NIMBY effect (Not In My Backyard). Having a nuclear power plant near any populated area sure impacts the neighbourhood. This cannot be avoided as human are prone to fear the unknown; no matter how much awareness campaign we are willing to conduct, there will always be those who are not listening and resort to their own opinions. Further studies should be addressed to this matter. Radiation is a very powerful word; as if radiation only exists if nuclear power existed and there is no other source of radiation. This misleading concept could be contradicted by educating the public and providing them with scientific facts, not myths, and the information should not come from people who are profiting from nuclear industry as the public would only reacts as the words that came out are not true. 


Looking at the recent nuclear technologies, the respondents are correct to highlight that a nuclear power plant, or anything that human designs; let it be other power plants or skyscrapers; could not withstand any natural disaster beyond its design limits. But the public should be informed that nuclear power plant is designed up to the expected natural disasters, but not to a natural disaster that would happen once in a thousand year, such as the Fukushima incident which is not metaphorically, but literally the act of God. From another different perspective, the safety designs nowadays could avoid a nuclear disaster from human error that would affects area beyond the power plant itself. This is agreed by the respondents but more of this information should be advertised to the public as they are unsure of the truth of this fact. One opinion is to produce a dedicated video that would be easily understood without much complexity of scientific nuclear understanding; a video advertisement illustrating how the safety design kicks in once any threat is detected. 

When presented with the most crucial question; which is considering to have a nuclear power plant in Malaysia, it clearly proved that those who opposed the idea are good hearted, but have the wrong facts. 

Proliferation could not be easily achieved. It can only be done by manipulating the sensitive technology of reprocessing uranium; which is only available in few countries. It could not be done like how the movies depicted, it requires a large enough facility as the size of the power plant with enough electricity supply, and impossible to do in laboratories or warehouses. 

Regarding the waste management issue, the public should be aware that spent nuclear fuel and highly radioactive waste is packed in a way that it is required to maintain integrity during routine, normal, and severe accident/attack conditions. It means that after an accident the integrity must be such that there is no breach of containment, no increase in radiation to a level which would endanger the public or those involved in rescue and clean-up operations. The packaging is tested to withstand a free drop of 9 m in most vulnerable orientation and 9 m drop onto spike for penetration tested. In thermal test, it was set on fire of 800 degree Celsius for 30 minutes. The packaging is also immersed in water, 15 m deep for 8hours, or the enhanced immersion test, 200 m deep into the water for 1 hour. 

The dream of using renewable energy for baseload generation remains a dream. Despite the sunny weather all year long, solar energy could not meet the demand. It is proven where one of the pilot project, a 3kW solar grid in Universiti Tenaga Nasional is only generating around 1kW on average. The best way to utilize solar energy is by installing solar panel at home, not a solar power plant. It would destroy 100 times of land area when compared to area required to construct a nuclear power plant of the same capacity. Not to mention its efficiency at best is around 40% at the moment, and the cost is too high, especially for the 40% efficiency solar panel. It is very wrong to say that there is no maintenance cost for solar panel as it also require batteries, and it must be disposed from time to time. Wind in Malaysia is not as strong as the wind sources in Europe, and it is intermittent. The efficiency and area required is also unacceptable. Geothermal and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion obviously could not generate more than 100MW and only available at certain location. The cost for undersea cable is already at 12M/km, whereby the closest site is 200km from land; which is in Sabah. Not to mention the construction of the plant would destroy the marines ecosystem. Burning biomass on its own would generate a little energy, it is only rationalized to be used as torrefaction in coal-fired power plant. Burning means producing carbon dioxide, which is green house gas. Thus, it defeats the purpose of green technology, and also not renewable. In Malaysia, the main biomass source comes from palm industry, which is a unreliable resource as it competes with other uses from other industries. It has to be realized that Renewable Energy or not, sacrifices have to be made. 

Highlighting the issue of the capabilities of the nuclear power plant workers is wise. We never have a commercial nuclear reactor, but we do have an operating reactor that is used for research purpose and constructed on November 1, 1981. It is capable of generating 1MW of electricity. The various strategies taken to enhance the safety and security of the RTP are in line with international practice and standards, will assure the safe operation of the last 25 years is continued in the future. So, it does answer the question do we have the professionals required in order to operate a nuclear power plant, and the answer in YES. Operating a 1MW reactor and a 1000MW power plant is not the same, agreed, but we also have numerous specialists in nuclear, and we are indeed training more by sending them to study in nuclear engineering mostly overseas so that we are prepared to operate a nuclear power plant by the year 2021. 

Corruption in Malaysia should not be related in judging nuclear energy. It should not be viewed politically. Nuclear Power Plant will also be monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We will not be alone. This is also demonstrated in quality and maintenance of the Triga Puspati Reactor. This matter should be addressed in future studies. 

If the public think that there is no need to increase our electricity generation capacity in the near future, it is wrong. As quoted from TNB, at present, the peak demand stands at 15,072 MW, as recorded on 25 May 2010. This translates into reserve margin of approximately 40%. The reserve level is not here to stay. With annual load growth and retirement of existing capacity as they reach their economic life, the reserve margin will drop eventually. Electricity demand in Peninsular Malaysia is expected to grow at 3-5% annually from 2010 until 2020. In 2020, peak demand is forecasted at 20,669 MW while energy generation is projected to reach 138,510 GWh. In Peninsular Malaysia, there is no new plant scheduled for installation from now until 2015. Hence, with no added capacity from new plants, higher electricity demand and retirements of older plants, reserve margin is expected to reduce. In 2015, it would settle at approximately 20%. Nuclear Power Plant is only expected to operate in 2021. So, it does make sense to why we should increase our electricity generation capacity.


Saying that the process of constructing to decommissioning of nuclear power plant is not entirely true. Nuclear plant construction costs are generally higher, compared to coal or gas-fired plants, because of higher level of technology, sophistication of equipment, quality of material & quality assurance standards, true. Despite the highest capital cost and Operations & Maintenance (O&M) costs among other sources, overall production cost for a nuclear plant is still the lowest. Nuclear power plants have achieved the lowest production costs between coal, natural gas and oil since 2001. Production costs are the O&M and fuel costs of a power plant. Fuel costs make up 26% of the overall production costs of nuclear power plants. Fuel costs for coal, natural gas and oil, however, make up more than 80% of the production costs. In addition, fuel costs are one area of steadily increasing efficiency and cost reduction. For instance, in Spain, nuclear electricity cost was reduced by 29% over 1995-2001. Another cost associated with nuclear plants is decommissioning costs. For nuclear power plants, any cost figure normally includes spent fuel management, plant decommissioning and final waste disposal. These costs, while usually external for other technologies, are internal for nuclear power (i.e. they have to be paid or set aside securely by the utility generating the power, and the cost passed on to the customer in the actual tariff). Decommissioning costs are about 9-15% of the initial capital cost of a nuclear power plant. But when discounted, they contribute only a few percent to the investment cost and even less to the generation cost. Total cost for spent fuel management and final nuclear or radioactive waste disposal, or back-end costs of the nuclear fuel cycle usually accounts for an additional 10% of the nuclear electricity cost. However, if the spent fuel is to be directly disposed of, instead of being reprocessed to extract the unused uranium and plutonium produced in routine nuclear power plant operation, the costs may be less.

In conclusion, the negativity are the results of fearing the unknown, because they are afraid of what they do not know. Nuclear is a very powerful and terrorizing word. It does not sound friendly due to Japan atomic bombing tragedy and the famous Fukushima leakage. The good parts of nuclear has not been exposed to the citizens. There is lack of knowledge about positives and negatives of a nuclear power plant plus the strong belief that alternative ways to get power is still available. The public are too naive about the reality where they believe electricity could be generated without sacrificing anything from their lives. They need to be educated. 









Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nuclear Power Asia 2012 Conference in Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur



While Fukushima has caused Southeast Asian countries to rethink their nuclear strategy, none have gone on record to cancel their nuclear power plans.

What plans do Southeast Asian countries have for nuclear power in 2012? 

Vietnam leads the way with its dogged determination to introduce nuclear power and in November announced that it has budgeted $142m for nuclear power human resources. Singapore reaffirmed plans to continue with pre-feasibility nuclear studies. Despite huge protests from its population, the Indonesian government has come to a realization that there is a strong need for nuclear power with State Minister, Dahlan Iskan announcing that Indonesia must accelerate development of nuclear energy. Riding on this, Indonesian utilities PT PLN (Persero) and Medco declaring their readiness to build and operate Indonesia's nuclear power plant.



Malaysia's Nuclear News Headlines in 2011

As 2011 draws to an end, let's look back at the major nuclear power developments in Malaysia since the last edition of Nuclear Power Asia in Hanoi on 18 January 2011!


Nuclear Power Asia 2012 Conference

The key factors which have persuaded Southeast Asian governments to add nuclear power as part of their country’s energy mix have not changed. Hence most countries have resisted a knee-jerk reaction to cancel their nuclear plans. The region’s energy demand is projected to grow nearly 50 per cent by 2030 and nuclear power will play a vital role to alleviate this demand.

Now in its third year, Nuclear Power Asia is a must attend event for the international and regional power industry. The 2012 edition returns to Kuala Lumpur and will focus on the future of the industry, addressing key and pressing issues such as:
  •  How to embark on long-term capacity building for future NPP Owner/Operator?
  • What are the challenges in developing nuclear power infrastructure and are there new approaches to address such challenges?
  • Reactor design - the new safety assessment criteria; how much have things changed?
  • Has it become more “expensive” to finance nuclear new build?

Nuclear Power Asia 2011 saw over 200 participants from over 90 companies in attendance. The 2012 edition will feature an even more comprehensive conference programme to address the rapid developments and changes in the industry.

With Southeast Asian countries planning for nuclear power, major vendor countries like Russia, France, South Korea, Japan and USA are actively trying to forge partnerships and bi-lateral cooperation with the countries. Japan's nuclear export capabilities are questionable despite the government highlighting that its domestic nuclear policy is separate from overseas export. The US, a sleeping giant in nuclear power export, formed the Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee to maintain its competitive position in the international civil nuclear market. 

Just look at the attendees list, this event is BIG


The conference is divided into 8 sessions, with the first six sessions on Jan 1, 2012 and the remaining on Feb 1, 2012. Among the interesting agenda's & discussions are as follows:

DAY 1: Jan 1, 2012

Session 1: Keynote
  1. Building a national position and feasibility for a nuclear power programme
  2. Keynote Energy Thought Leaders Roundtable

Session 2: Technology
  1. Evolution of nuclear plant designs and technology selection
  2. Implementation of advanced nuclear power plant safety
  3. Technology Leaders Roundtable

Session 3: Human Capital and Industrial Developement
  1. Effective models for the integration of the global nuclear supply to a country's local supply chain
  2. A review of issues to consider in assisting and preparing local companies to enter into the local and global nuclear supply chain
  3. Localization Optimization for First Nuclear Power Plant
  4. Challenges of personnel training for new nuclear power plants
  5. Key to success of Nuclear Power Plant constructions: Lesson learned from current experience

Session 4: Legal Framework and Licensing
  1. The Impact of Fukushima on how we think about nuclear liability: Have the Japanese Government's actions forced us to rethink nuclear liability models?
  2. Feasibility and bank-ability studies
  3. Reactor design evaluation and licensing in the UK - the Generic Design Assessment: an internationally unique process
  4. Project management for Nuclear Power Plant: Korea's experience
  5. Establishing a national infrastructure for nuclear power: Key issues

Session 5: Knowledge Sharing Session 1
Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss in-depth specific themes in their interest field at one of the tables. Each table will be hosted by a specialist, allowing delegates to:
  • Identify the challenges participants face
  • Share experiences with experts in the field
  • Evaluate possible solutions
  • Formulate recommendations, needs and future action plans

Table topics include:
Table 1: Sustaining operational excellence with the highest safety, reliability, and efficiency
Hosted by: Exelon Generation & Exelon Nuclear Partners
Table 2: Understanding the role and importance of power plant simulation for new build
Hosted by: L-3 MAPPS
Table 3: ABWR and ESBWR safety and reliability in construction and operation
Hosted by: GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International
Table 4: Linking the nuclear industry: a global industry needs a global and shared pool of human resources, how can we accomplish that?
Hosted by: To be announced


DAY 2: Feb 1, 2012

Session 6: Siting, Waste Management and Public Acceptance
  1. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation approach to developing public communications and education programs to ensure that residents understand the civil nuclear energy program
  2. Overview of available waste management technologies, options and transportation
  3. Managing siting activities for nuclear power programme
  4. Metropolitan siting of nuclear reactors

Session 7: Financing, Contracting and Ownership
  1. Evolving form of nuclear finance: potential new approach that is applicable to Asian NNPP’s
  2. Nuclear project risk profile and mitigation
  3. What governments can do to facilitate financing for nuclear power plants?
  4. Financing of nuclear power projects by ECAs

Session 8: Lessons Learnt from International Experiences
  1. UAE’s long-term capacity building programme for nuclear power
  2. France's experience in assisting with developing infrastructure for newcomers: what has changed after the Fukushima accident
  3. Nurturing local conventional industries into nuclear grade industries: How Vietnam plans to involve its local industry with its NPP
  4. Initial progress under the Saudi program, schedule going forward, key decisions made and to be made
  5. Finance Leaders Roundtable: A key issue faced by emerging nuclear power countries is financing and risk allocation, and even more so post-Fukushima. Discussion items include:
  • Public private combination financing model
  • How do we make the banks comfortable with non-recourse financing of nuclear projects?
  • How to make your nuclear programme attractive for equity investors?
  • Promoting the right framework for nuclear financing
  • How will Basel III affect the financing of large infrastructure projects, to include nuclear power projects?
  • Financing a Nuclear Power Programme: Banking Risks Factors
There are also pre-conference workshop held! The workshops are:
  1. Key issues in the world nuclear industry today
  2. Best practice in education & training for the nuclear power industry

Nuclear Power Asia will continue to be THE annual event for the industry to convene and discuss market outlook, experiences and technology. This is a dynamic event which should not be missed if you want to be kept abreast of the current and future plans of the nuclear power industry!

Thanks to Mr. Zaf Coelho (Project Manager of Nuclear Power Asia 2012) for delivering us this news.

Full brochure for Nuclear Power Asia 2012 may be obtained here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Day to Remember: Lecture from Prof Dr Michihiro Furusaka

Michihiro Furusaka, PhD, is a professor at the Graduate School of Engineering at Hokkaido University, Japan, working in the field of neutron instrumentation and optics. He is a world-renowned Quantum Science and Engineering researcher, and his research areas include condensed matter physics, biophysics, chemical physics, and nuclear engineering. Currently, he is developing a new mini-focusing small angle neutron scattering (mfSANS) instruments.

On December 8, 2011, we are honored to attend a lecture from Prof. Dr. Michihiro Furusaka, courtesy of Nuclear Malaysia. In this lecture, he explains about quantum beam and its applications; including in nuclear engineering.

What is the device he is developing used for?
In many applications such as fuel cells, batteries and superconductors, most of the key properties are linked to the nanostructure of their constituent materials. Any attempt at the tuning of this nanostructure in order to optimize the application properties, however, requires the ability to extract the morphological details on length scales ranging from the sub-nm scale up to the micron scale. Moreover, since the application properties are defined by the average of the bulk material, the statistically representative characterization of the average nanostructure is a necessity.

Small-angle scattering (of light, X-rays, and neutrons) is a unique nanostructural characterization technique capable of obtaining exactly this; providing average morphological parameters over volumes ranging from cubic micrometers to cubic centimeters. The widespread adoption of this technique, however, has been hindered by a complicated data interpretation as well as instrumental limitations.

Recently, much progress has been made enabling advanced generation, focusing and detection of both X-rays and neutrons, widening the application of the technique.

All the pictures disclosed here originate from the work and presentation of Prof. Dr. Michihiro Fukuhara and regarded as his property.

In this lecture, he begins by pointing out the situations in large neutron facilities such as ILL, Oak Ridge, Munich, NIST, JRR-3, KAERI, ISIS, Luhan center, PSI, SNS, J-PARC, and ANSTO. Machine time is already oversubscribed. It is not very suitable to train scientist and students. It is difficult to install the instrument because of limited beamlines, instruments are out of scope everyday, and factors such as cost and transporting. It is difficult to test new ideas. Small Angle Neutron Scattering instrument (SANS) are huge and expensive. Neutron facilities are expensive and not always available in developing countries. Maintaining the instruments require manpower and budget.


Research activities using neutron scattering techniques are strongly hampered by its limited machine-time availability. We need very large facilities, either a research reactor or an accelerator driven neutron source, and the number of such facilities all over the world is rather limited. Also true is the number of instruments at such facilities. As a result, getting machine time of one of such instruments is also severely limited; often they are oversubscribed by a factor of three or more.

In case of X-ray, there are a lot of laboratory based X-ray instruments all over the place. Instruments are commercially available; researchers can test their ideas or new samples without writing a proposal; many researchers know how to analyze data. If you need a more powerful instrument, synchrotron radiation facilities are there.

One way of overcoming this situation around neutron scattering technique, especially for SANS instrument, would be to develop a compact unit instrument that can be installed many on a beamline. The unit should be of low cost and can also be installed at low power accelerator based neutron sources. The answer to this is the mfSANS instrument. By using a neutron-focusing technique, like an ellipsoidal mirror developed, a very compact SANS instrument was made. Current ones are 2.5 and 4m in total lengths. Many devices have to be developed, such as high intensity monochromator, beam branching device, high quality focusing mirror, and detector with high-resolution high-count-rate /highdetecting efficiency. Also important is to develop easy to use software.

A second prototype mfSANS instrument has been installed at the cold neutron guide beamline, C1-3, at JRR-3 research reactor of Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). In this case, an ellipsoid neutron mirror with supermirror coating of 2.5 Qc was used. The distance between the focal points was 2.5 m, considerably shorter than the one at Hokkaido University. The length of the mirror was also 900mm, made of three pieces.


Preliminary result of SANS in a piece of bovine thighbone. Red squares showed data obtained by mfSANS installed at Hokkaido University and blu and green ones by the one at JRR-3.


The instrument was installed not at horizontal plane, but tilted by 45 degrees toward ceiling from the horizontal line.






The focusing mirror was installed in a vacuum chamber. A monochromator and a cadmium aperture were place in the shielding box shown at the bottom, the detector at the top.




The LPSD was installed just in front of the zinc-sulfide scintillation detector as shown below.





Prof Dr Michihiro Fukuhara successfully obtained about 2.5 mm FWHM focused beam at the detector position using a 2 mm aperture at one of the two focal points of the focusing mirror. SANS data was obtained from standard samples, such as Ni powder of 20 nm in diameter and micro-separated block-copolymer DI33.

He highlighted the issues of SANS for low power reactors; which is the efficiency of conversing collimator and loosely focused beam. The possible solutions proposed are converging multi-holes collimator from a bigger sample, and utilizing loosely focused beam by focusing mirrors.





This amazing lecture was cut short due to time constraint. Nevertheless, we were astounded by his intelligence. We hoped that this kind of exposures will increase in frequency as it does motivate us. Thank you to Prof Dr Michihiro Fukuhara, Nuklear Malaysia, MOSTI, TNB, UNITEN, and above all, Dr. Nor Azlan Mostafa.

Here are some commemorative, memorable moments with Prof Dr Michihiro Fukuhara;





Friday, December 9, 2011

Alternative Energy: What Government is Looking into Now



Alternative energy

Apart from the main five energy sources stated in the Five-Fuel Diversification Strategy, the government has always been on the lookout for other possible sources of alternative energy such as solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cells, landfill gas and municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration and more recently, nuclear.

Sources: Malaysia Energy Centre’s National Energy Balance

Solar

Although solar power has been identified and incorporated into SREP as one of the REs in 2003, most of the solar power used in Malaysia is domestic level only (mostly for solar thermal), and large scale commercial use is not significant yet. Solar power in Malaysia or also known as photovoltaic (PV) system is estimated to be four times the world fossil fuel resources [1]. Presently, solar energy applications mostly oriented towards domestic hot water systems, water pumping, drying of agricultural produce. The tropical climatic conditions in Malaysia are favorable for the development of solar energy due to abundant sunshine with the average daily solar insulation of 5.5 kWm2, equivalent to 15 MJ/m2. PV-generated electricity, whether standalone or grid connected, is electricity generated at point of use. So, 1 MW of PV-generated electricity is equivalent in fuel saving to about 4 MW of conventional electricity once generation and transmission losses of the conventional system are factored in. It may be quite feasible to set a target of about 10MW of grid connected photovoltaic system for Malaysia [2].

In 2005, the 5-year Malaysian Building Integrated Photovoltaic Technology Application Project (MBIPV) was launched. This project is jointly funded by the Government of Malaysia, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the private sector. It is intended to encourage the long term cost reduction of non-emitting GHG technologies by the integration of energy generating photovoltaic technology in building designs and envelopes. Over the lifetime of the project, the energy generated is expected to be able to avoid 65,100 tons of CO2 emissions from the country’s power sector [3]. The project has several demonstration PV projects in various sectors including residential houses and commercial buildings. The most significant project is the Green Energy Office (GEO) building, an administration-research office for Pusat Tenaga Malaysia (PTM). It is constructed following the success of the Low Energy Office (LEO) building which currently housed the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) in Putrajaya. The LEO building is the first Malaysia’s government building to be built with integrated energy efficient design and was designed as a showcase building to demonstrate energy efficient and cost effective features so that other public and private sector buildings can replicate such measures. The GEO building, on the other hand, is a pilot project, a demonstrator building which marked another milestone towards greater promotion and adoption of sustainable building concept. PTM-GEO is the only such building in Malaysia that integrates the energy efficiency (EE) and RE in one working building. The building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels are all integrated into the building design to provide electricity for the building uses and are connected to the national electricity (TNB) grid by feeding electricity into the network and shaving the peak power demand of the grid during the peak daylight hours. The system provides almost 50% of everyday electrical needs. In daytime, the system will feed any surplus of energy back to the TNB grid. At night, the electrical energy is imported back from the grid to be used for the cooling system. Other green technology features of the building which are not in the scope of this discussion can be found in [4].

Another national MBIPV program that is worth mentioned is the SURIA-1000 program initiated in 2007, targeting the residential and commercial sector to establish the new BIPV market and provide direct opportunities to the public and industry in RE initiatives. Every year since 2007, limited number of grid connected solar PV systems will be offered to the public on a bidding (auction) concept, through local mass media and administered by a project team, with minimum BIPV capacity for bidding is 3 kWp per application. Successful bidders would then install the PV system supplied by the participated PV service providers as BIPV at their premises. The costs of the PV systems are borne by the successful bidders at the bidding price and supplemented by the project. This program is co-financed by the public (owners of the system), Malaysia’s Energy Commission and the PV industry. Today, the cost of a 5 kWp BIPV turn-key rooftop system in Malaysia is about RM27,000/kWp. Thus, a 5 kWp BIPV system costs RM135,000 (US$37,500). The system will produce approximately 6000 kWh of energy per annum [5]. To date, there are only a mere 0.4MW of cumulative grid-connected PV installations and PV system unit cost has dropped by 16% in average since introduced.

Wind

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into more useful forms, usually electricity using wind turbines. In 2005, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 58,982 MW, their production making up less than 1% of worldwide electricity use. Although still a relatively minor source of electricity or most countries, it accounts for 23% of electricity use in Denmark, 4.3% in Germany and around 8% in Spain. Globally, wind power generation more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2005.

In Malaysia, wind energy conversion is a serious consideration. The potential for wind energy generation in Malaysia depends on the availability of the wind resource that varies with location. Understanding the site-specific nature of wind is a crucial step in planning a wind energy project. Not much data are available on wind energy potential of Malaysia can be found. One dated back in the early 1980s was conducted the Solar Energy Research Group from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Wind data were collected from ten stations distributed all over Malaysia (six in Peninsular and four in east Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak) for a 10- year period (1982–1991), with all the stations located either at airport, near open sea, flat area or meteorology department. The station located at Mersing (seaside) has the greatest potential with a mean power density of 85.61 W/m2 at 10 m above sea level [6].

A more recent research in 2005, a 150 kW wind turbine in Terumbu Layang Layang was demonstrated with some success by a team from UKM. However, the availability of wind resource varies with location. It is necessary to first carry out a general assessment of the wind energy potential nationwide. This can then be followed with detailed assessment in promising locations. Understanding the wind resource is a crucial step in planning a wind energy project. Wind energy is considered a green power technology because it has only minor impacts on the environment. Wind energy plants produce no air pollutants or GHG and have great potential in tourist resort islands. However, any means of energy production impacts the environment in one way or another, and wind energy is no different [7].

Landfill gas and municipal solid waste (MSW)

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Malaysia involves the disposal of approximately 98% of the total waste to landfills. Current disposal method of landfilling needs improvements to prolong the landfill life and to minimize the problem of land scarcity. Rapid developments and industrialization in Malaysia necessitate a better and more efficient waste management strategy. The mushrooming of urban areas and rural–urban migration has increased the per capita income due to changes in the consumption patterns that led to increased waste generation. The local authorities and waste management consortia have to  handle approximately 17,000 tons of MSW everyday throughout the country [8]. The largest sources are household waste followed by industrial and commercial waste.

Source: Malaysia Energy Centre 2008

The MSW consisted of putrescible waste, paper, plastic, wood, metal, glass, textiles, grass and others. MSW contains significant portions of organic materials that produce gaseous products, an energy source known as biogas which is naturally produced from anaerobic degradation at landfills. The main content of the landfill gas (LFG) is methane, which can be used for power generation, transport and as cooking gas. Harvesting energy from landfills is befitting as there are more than 261 landfill sites in Malaysia and 150 sites are still operating, contributing to the immense potential of LFG formation. If the methane is left untapped, it becomes a major greenhouse contributor as methane is 23 times more hazardous than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming effects [9]. Currently, the Landfill Gas (LFG) Power Generation at Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill, Puchong is the first grid connected RE project in the country. This project is owned by a subsidiary and its construction was completed in November 2003 and commissioned in April 2004.

Generally, the project site is located at landfill area itself, where the total gross area of landfill is about 58 hectares and the waste deposited close to 4 million tons. This landfill area receives 3000 tons of garbage/day from major parts of the Klang Valley. The 2.096MW power plant has two gas engines rated at the capacity of 1048 kW and the generator comprises of a set of gas extraction system which is directly connected to the pipe from the gas field or well. The system functions as the fuel pre-treatment system of the biogas such as filtration, heating and cooling of the gas. The interconnection point of TNB substation with the gas power generator is located 30 m from the site, with 2 MW being exported to the national grid. Each well can produce biogas for a period of 20 years and the gas composition is more than 55% methane gas with an 80% maximum moisture level at a production rate of 40 m3/h.

Besides power generation, this project also reduces odour level at surrounding area and mitigates emission of GHG [10]. The energy potential from an incineration plant operating based on 1500 tons of MSW/day with an average calorific value of 2200 kcal/kg is assessed to be at 640 kW/day [11].

Another popular method of MSW disposal in Malaysia is through open incineration and it is increasingly becoming a problem due to pollutant emissions like heavy metals and mercury, and other hazardous compounds such as dioxin, hydrochloric acid (HCl), nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SOx) being released to the atmosphere from clinical waste incineration process. Open incineration is seen as the easiest way to handle waste by many due to shortage of land for landfills and its rising costs. In the early 2000s, a US$435 million biggest incinerator project in Asia was proposed to be built in the country, to be located at Broga, Selangor. But the 1500-ton behemoth project had since been scrapped due to the large capital expenditure and costly maintenance involved, on top of mounting protests from the public and environmentalists because the proposed site was located near a university and surrounded by vegetable farms, palm oil and fruit plantations and near a water catchment area. At present, incinerators in Malaysia are run by private entities in small scale and mainly used for medical and hazardous wastes only. The government has not totally dispose the plan of building more incinerators in the future as solid waste management is getting more serious by days, with the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur alone discards some 3000 tons of solid waste every day. Consequently, there are renewed interest and ongoing studies on thermal treatment for solid waste management through gasification and pyrolysis, which look quite promising [12].

Only about 5–15% of waste in Malaysia is recycled, compared to much higher levels in many developed nations. According to the Malaysian Newsprint Industries, a private joint venture newsprint supplier, Malaysian publishers use about 250,000 tons of newsprint a year, of which only 100,000 tons is recovered. This is equivalent to disposing 2.55 million trees into the landfills. The main factor that might influence the composition and amount of MSW produced in any location is the extent of reduction, reuse and recycling programs being implemented, and there have been many disputes that the government’s recycling campaign and its collection points, with large bins in three colours for the various types of waste, have been a failure. Where they existed, many of these bins are simply inaccessible or full of un-segregated rubbish. And most households did not have easy access to such recycling collection points. With the ever increasing population, it is projected that more than 9 million tons of waste will be produced a year by 2020.

Source: Malaysia Energy Centre 2008

Composting can actually be incorporated in all the landfills in the country together with an integrated system of recycling. The integrated system would allow optimization of waste reduction and reuse programs, which is actually a realistic possibility to improve the MSW management in the country.

Hydrogen fuel cells

Being the most abundant element on earth, hydrogen (H2) has been identified as one of the most viable and long term renewable alternatives to fossil fuel after solar. Other renewable such as biomass is currently seen not sufficient enough to replace fossil fuels. And fuel cell has been singled out as the most promising energy conversion device for hydrogen especially in transportation. The fuel cell is an electrochemical cell, which produces electricity directly from hydrogen and air (oxygen), without the production of GHG. In principle, although a fuel cell operates like a normal battery, it does not run out nor requires charging as long as fuel is supplied to it.

Unfortunately, hydrogen does not exist naturally and thus the extraction and production methods of hydrogen are very expensive. The most common form of extraction is steam reforming where water is heated to high temperature (roughly 1000 8C) using methane (CH4), which reacts with the hydrogen (cultivated for use) and carbon monoxide (emitted as GHG). Another alternative version of extraction which is more expensive but also the cleanest is through breaking water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. The main drawback is that it takes more energy to create the hydrogen than what is actually produced, making it not feasible. At the moment, research and development is being carried out to harness hydrogen to be used in fuel cells for transportation purposes. Hydrogen and fuel cells are identified as priority research by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) after solar, with RM7 million (US$2 million) funded on hydrogen production and storage technologies between 2002 and 2007 and RM34 million (US9.7 million) on the national fuel cell research and development from 1996 to 2007 as applications of fuel cells are viewed as one of the more important energy conversion devices in the future. Therefore, a task force under the PTM has been set up recently and the hydrogen energy roadmap for the next 20 years was drawn as shown below.

Source: Hydrogen Energy Roadmap for Malaysia [13]

Nuclear

As the world struggles to cap CO2 emissions and GHG and deal with climate change, nuclear energy is becoming more and more appealing. Fanned by climate change and dwindling fossil fuel supplies, there is now a nuclear renaissance. More and more countries are beginning to consider having nuclear reactors. In this region, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia have recently announced their nuclear plans. Nuclear energy has existed for many decades and is a popular energy source in developed countries. For instance, according to World Nuclear Association, 75% of France electricity needs are supplied by its 59 nuclear reactors and South Korea has over 20 nuclear power plants which supply 40% of its needs. Nuclear has long been considered as the only form of energy that can replace fossil fuels adequately, which currently provides 85% of the world’s energy today. The burning of fossil fuels spews about 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year but in contrast, nuclear reactors produce almost zero CO2, according to Environmentalist of Nuclear Energy.

In Malaysia, control over the use of radioactive substances began in 1968 when the government passed the Radioactive Substances Act 1968. Due to rapid development of atomic energy activities in Malaysia which requires more effective control, inspection and enforcement, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) was established in February 1985 to act as an enforcement body and was placed under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) since October 1990. Non-power applications of nuclear technology have contributed to improving healthcare, generating new industrial products and processes, improving food and water security, and further development of other areas of science and technology all this while. Such nonpower applications have been the main focus of nuclear technology development in Malaysia until now.

As in many developed countries in the world, there is now a renewed interest in using nuclear energy for electricity generation in Malaysia. In July 2009, the government has agreed to include nuclear as an option in the energy policy of the country, with the drafting of a new national energy policy expected to be readied by the end of the year. This is due to the realization that the available national energy resources are inadequate to guarantee supply beyond the year 2030 and in will take 10–15 years to develop the human capital to tap into nuclear energy. Currently, electricity generation in the country is predominantly based on only three of the five fuel sources, namely, natural gas, coal and hydropower. Oil is hardly used for electricity generation, except for standby generation, and the contribution of RE to electricity generation is still insignificant and far below the target set under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006–2010). In future, oil will no longer be a viable option for electricity generation, due to the diminishing national oil resources, and Malaysia is expected to become a net oil importer by the year 2030. Furthermore, fluctuating global oil prices do not augur well for a reliance on oil for electricity generation. As such, the priority for the use of oil should be in those sectors where it is difficult to find a substitute, especially in the transportation sector. Of the three current main sources for electricity generation, there is uncertainty over gas supply to the power sector in the peninsular beyond 2030. To cover for the shortfall in gas supply, coal-fired electricity generation may need to be increased. This is not an attractive option, given that almost100% of the national coal supply is dependent on imports, with current total of approximately 20 million tons per year.

With the increasing global demand for clean and sustainable energy, peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear energy, further development of affordable and cost-effective small and medium-sized nuclear power plants (NPP) is important. For Malaysia, the nuclear power program can be initiated with a small nuclear power plant as a power demonstration reactor, before larger plants that are more cost-competitive can be built. This was the approach taken by Japan, which started with a Japan power demonstration reactor (JPDR) generating only 13MW of electricity from 1963 to 1982, before building 53 larger plants with capacities between 340MW and 1300MW [14].

References:

[1] Hitam S. (1999). Sustainable energy policy and strategies: a prerequisite for the concerted development and promotion of the renewable energy in Malaysia.
[2] Sopian K, Othman MY, Yatim B, Daud WRW. (2005). Future directions in Malaysian environment friendly renewable energy technologies research and development.
[3] Solar Energy. Energy Information Bureau. Malaysia Energy Centre.
[4] GEO-PTM.
[5] Suria-1000. Retrieved from http://www.mbipv.net.my/suria.htm
[6] Sopian K, Othman MY, Wirsat A. The wind energy potential of Malaysia.
[7] Energy Information Bureau.
[8] Fauziah SH, Simon C, Agamuthu P. Municipal solid waste management in Malaysia – possibility of improvement?.
[9] Press: UNITEN: Gearing towards research excellence.
[10] Biogas on grid-connected biogas power generation using landfill gas.
[11] Kathirvale S, Sopian MK, Samsuddin AH. Energy potential from municipal solid waste in Malaysia.
[12] Ong TH. (2006). Impact of thermal treatment plants. Seminar: solid waste management – are we heading in the right direction?.
[13] Daud WRW. The road ahead in R&D in renewable energy.
[14] Yusof F. International nuclear conference, Kuala Lumpur; June 2009