Energy transition inevitable in ensuring energy security

August 26, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 14): The transition to clean energy is inevitable as the world moves towards reversing the impact of climate change, while simultaneously strengthening energy security to hedge against external uncertainties, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict’s impact on the energy sector.

TNB Generation Sdn Bhd (TNB Genco) chief operating officer Datuk Ir Roslan Abd Rahman said Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) plans to reduce its dependency on coal by 50% by 2035 and is seriously looking into renewable energy sources such as hydrogen and ammonia.

“We do not want to be dependant on a single source to generate electricity. Renewable energy such as hydrogen is more secure now, as we need to import coal from producing countries such as Indonesia.

“We will have a problem if Indonesia stops exporting its coals,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of a media visit to TNB’s hydropower stations in Cameron Highland recently.

Also present were TNB head of state stakeholder affair for Pahang, Datuk Baderul Sham Saad; and the general manager for Cameron Highlands Power Stations, Sa’aidan Abu Hassan.

Roslan said hydropower dams are an important source of renewable energy, noting that hydroelectricity currently powers about 10% of the national power grid.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that it would take a while for the transition from coal to clean energy to take place.

He noted that Malaysia will still need to collaborate with foreign companies that have the right expertise, adding that TNB Genco is currently talking to major firms such as General Electric and Siemens to find the suitable technology to develop its own renewable energy.

“Hydrogen technology is still new and more expensive compared to current gas prices, and it will take some time for the price to come down,” said Roslan.

Challenges managing hydro dams

Water pollution has become a rising concern for TNB, as it has to allocate about RM100 million per year to maintain the dams due to increasing pollution near its water sources, with some RM40 million spent to remove the sediment and rubbish from the hydro dams in Cameron Highlands.

“Right now, we can still manage it within the existing budget, but we want to reduce it.

“However, the cost has been going up by an estimated 10% per year, as this also depends on the inflation rate,” he said.

Currently, TNB Genco has three main hydropower plants in Peninsular Malaysia, comprising the 1,249 megawatts (MW) hydropower operations in Sungai Perak, the 622MW plant in Cameron Highlands, and the 665MW Sultan Mahmud Power Station in Kenyir, Terengganu.

Roslan is hoping for a permanent solution to the pollution issue, adding that TNB Genco has spent time and money to educate the people living around the dams, with help from the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia.

When asked whether TNB would be increasing the number of hydro dams in Malaysia, he noted that a thorough study is needed to build them.

Currently, TNB is developing the RM5 billion Nenggiri Hydroelectric Dam project in Kelantan, which is expected to start generating electricity mid-2027.

The project is aimed at increasing renewable energy capacity in West Malaysia, solving the long-standing problems of flood and clean water supply in Kelantan, and creating eco-tourism opportunities.

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