Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

What is Renewable Energy?


Renewable energy means

  • Saving energy through better utilization and consumption. In other words trying to achieve maximum energy efficiency for any task

  • Using renewable energy instead of that from fossil fuels so that finite resources are not depleted and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) generation is reduced

  • Optimising the match between primary energy sources and final end-use with minimal wastages & adverse environmental impacts.

By providing sustainable energy, we will improve the environment by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, maintain natural resources by using renewable sources energy such as solar, biomass, wind and wave. Technologies using renewable energy are available and cost-effective in delivering power.

What is energy efficiency?


Simply put, energy efficiency means using less energy to accomplish the same task. Take the example of boiling water, which option would save more energy? a) use an electrical kettle to boil water or b) use a traditional kettle using gas to boil water. Using a traditional kettle on a gas stove is much more energy efficient from especially system approach.

To be energy efficient is easy. You just need to monitor your use of energy. There are simple changes you can make around the house to save energy, which will save you money as well.

Why is it important?

More efficient use of energy throughout our country results in less money spent on energy by homeowners, schools, government agencies, businesses, and industries. The money that would have been spent on energy can instead be spent on consumer goods, education, services, and products.

As individuals, your home has a direct impact on the environment. Power stations that provide our electricity, generally burn fossil fuels to supply our energy needs. Cars and motorcycles also burn fossil fuels. By burning fossil fuels, large amounts of gases are released into the atmosphere, causing an increase in temperature. This leads to what is known as the greenhouse effect, which is causing global warming. In addition other air pollutants are also generated. All of which impact negatively on our environment.

By being wasteful in energy usage means more energy is being consumed. For example, a normal bulb requires additional units of energy compared to an energy efficient one. These additional units of energy mean more burning of fossil fuels. And this increases the polluting gases in the atmosphere. That is why it is necessary to identify the energy being wasted in the home, and make the necessary adjustments, that will not only help you save money, but will help preserve our environment.

Perspective


It is Malaysias Goal by 2005 to generate 5% of its electricity from renewable resources. Malaysia introduced renewable energy as the countrys fifth (5th) fuel source.

Renewable energy includes resources that are constantly present, which never run out, like the energy we get from the sun or energy from wind. Types of renewable energy are;


Solar


The Earths surface receives so much solar energy from the sun everyday, that if this energy is harnessed for even just 60 seconds, it would be enough to power the worlds total energy requirements for a year. Even though solar energy is a free and unlimited resource, it is hardly utilised because of oil which is cheap and easy to produce. Solar energy is currently most used for water heating. It can be directly converted to electricity through solar cells.



These non-polluting solar cells, known as photovoltaic cells use no fuel, mechanical turbine or a generator. Solar energy has enormous potential as a resource of clean and unlimited electricity around the world and with the increasing demand for energy coupled with increasing environmental pollution from the burning of fossil fuel, its time to tap into this. In Malaysia, installation of solar PV cells is done mainly in rural areas, where there is difficulty setting up electricity cables or it is used by individuals (private homes).


Hydroelectric


Hydroelectric power is the leading source of renewable energy. It provides about 97% of all electricity generated by renewable energy sources worldwide. Water is a precious resource and can be found in abundance. When it is harnessed for hydroelectric energy, it can power the lighting for entire cities. The only time a hydropower facility is polluting is during its construction. Once it has been built, it does not need fuel to produce electricity.



But the idea or use of hydropower is a highly debatable topic and remains a controversial issue. Despite being a source of clean electricity, the damage caused by dams during its construction and through its operation often gives rise to it construction being protested (refers mainly to large dams). When done right however, small run-of-the-river hydropower can be a sustainable and nonpolluting power source. Here in Malaysia, hydropower is used for water supply, flood control, irrigation and recreation purposes.

Malaysia has abundant hydropower potential with a total potential capacity of 29,000 MW (with 70% in Sarawak).


Wind


Wind energy is captured by wind turbines. Studies done in Malaysia indicated that only a few places in the East Coast have sufficient wind energy for utilization. Malaysia has wind turbines installed in remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak.



Biomass


Biomass consists of organic matter that makes up plants. Biomass energy can be used for generating electricity, transportation fuels and chemicals. The type of biomass material considered to have potential as renewable energy sources here in Malaysia include residues from palm oil, rice mills and wood mills.



Hydrogen


Hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth. It does not occur naturally as gas and needs to be first separated from other elements before it can be burned as fuel or converted to electricity.



Geothermal


Geothermal energy taps Earths internal heat for electric power production and for the heating and cooling of buildings. Geothermal energy is produced when groundwater (from Earths surface) meets molten magma. Most of this groundwater remains deep underground, trapped in cracks and porous rock while some water does escape back to the surface forming hot springs and geysers. The portion that remains underground exists as geothermal reservoirs close to the surface and can be easily tapped for power generation.



Why is it important?


The energy we use today comes mainly from non-renewable sources such as coal, oil, natural gas and uranium, all of which are finite resources and will be depleted. Additionally, the use of these types of fuel are damaging to our health and to the environment. Renewable energy on the other hand has the potential to produce clean energy for our use, for all time for everyone. Renewable energy systems help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are being recognised as a major source of energy for the 21st century and beyond.