Saturday, November 2, 2013

Renewal Energy Technology

The topics of the two lectures and the speakers

The two speakers (from left) Prof Dr Hamdani, Prof. Dr Kamaruzzaman and moderator, Prof.  Ir Ahmad Faizal

A section of the participants at the Fellows' Lecture

Photovoltaic cell as a Renewable Energy Technology

        Renewable Energy Resources - Hydro, Wind, Municipal Wastes, Biomass & Nuclear
                                                         Fuel Cell Engines

                                                              Renewable Hydrogen Energy System

                             President ASM, Y Bhg Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali,
                             giving away memento to Prof. Hamdani
1.     Introduction  

The two lectures were part of the ASM Fellow Lecture series organised on October 30, 2013 at the  Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) premises on the 20th floor of the imposing MARTRADE Building.  It was attended by an estimated 50 made up of Fellows, staff of the Academy and invited guests.  The programme started at 09 30 hrs and ended at around  13 00 hrs.  It was officiated by Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, ASM President with Prof Ir Ahmad Faizal Mohd Zain, Chairperson of Engineering and Computer Sciences Discipline Group, moderating the session. The first topic discussed was on Sustainable Path for a Carbon Free Future by Prof. Dato’ Dr Kamaruzzaman Sopian.  Prof Kamaruzzaman holds a Ph. D in Mechanical Engineering from University of Miami Florida and his involvement for 25 years in solar radiation modelling and resource assessment and other related renewable energy studies has yielded more than 700 papers published in journals and conference proceedings.  His research and other contributions have been recognised both nationally and internationally with many awards and medals.  The second lecture entitled Looking for Green Solutions to Our Energy Need was delivered by Prof Dr Hamdani Saidi.  Prof Hamdani holds a doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Bradford, UK.  He is currently attached to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and known for his pioneering research in membrane technology in Malaysia.  He subsequently founded the Institute of Hydrogen Economy at UTM and appointed as Dean, UTM Energy Research Alliance.  He has also published widely and accorded recognition for his work both at the domestic and international fronts.     

        2. Sustainable Path for a Carbon Free Future

  Prof. Kamaruzzaman, the first speaker of the Fellow’s Lecture,  and who has a long credential on renewable energy technology  especially in solar energy, deliberating on Sustainable Path for a Carbon Free Future listed the three challenges that Malaysia encounter in the effort for a sustainable economic development – increasing price driven by a widening gap between supply and demand of fossil fuel, energy security and climate change.  These challenges have driven the need to explore for alternative particularly renewable energy sources which, in Prof Kamaruzzaman’s list, include solar radiation, municipal wastes, hydropower, wind and biomass. He devoted quite a bit of his lecture on his own work in solar energy, researching into the more effective photovoltaic silicon based panel and with his long experience in this field, he has been entrusted by MOSTI to develope the roadmap for the country’s Renewable Energy. Advocating for more investments in R&D in renewable energy, Prof Kamaruzzaman, believes that hydrogen energy resource may be the future as the element is available in abundance in the universe and is not polluting.    Among the strategies that he suggested for implementation for an increase in the utilisation of renewable energy technology include : (a) intensifying awareness and capacity building programmes, (b) enhance market and infrastructure development, (c) enhancing policy instruments supportive of market sustainability, (d) establishing competitive local manufacturin industries, and finally (e) formulate a long term R&D roadmap.  With these strategies, Prof Kamaruzzaman, concluded with optimism that, a carbon free Malaysia and the world could be attained in the future.

3. Looking for Solutions to Our Energy Need

    Prof Hamdani presented a global scenario of electricity generation which, according to the figures provided,  is contributed by coal (37%), gas (18%), hydro (18%), nuclear (17%), oils (8%). With the current sources of electrical energy resources,  43% of the carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere is at the high 43% with 15% of this gas emission coming from the burning of fossil fuel of motor vehicles. These and other gas emisions have enhanced tremendously the concentration of atmospheric gases resulting in the horrendous climatic change causing floods, droughts, melting of ice in the cold continents and the high mountains and other weather hazards.  However, resources such as gas, oils and coal are not only polluting but depleting in their availability and the demand which far outstrip supply, has contributed to the escalating prices of both the fossil fuels and coal.  These environmental, price increase and energy security considerations demand that alternative renewable resources or green solutions be found.  Prof Hamdani reviewed the various green solutions that must fulfil criteria such as high efficiency, minimise waste, low cost, conserve resources and has low carbon foot print.  His many slides display the utilization of photovoltaic cells in the country for drying of such food as salted fish and marine algae, electricity supply for houses and energy storage in hybrid automobiles.  Being a strong proponent of the hydrogen generated energy system, he argued that this is the green solution of the future as its environment friendly, accessibility of the materials, economic and cost effective.  In the interim until 2030, however, the globe must aim for the utilization of 20 to 30% renewable energy, with the non-renewable sources such as gas and oils will still be of some importance as energy generating resources.  He suggested the following recommendations to meet green solutions to the energy need:

(a)    Green Energy Fund be established

(b)    Application of Green Energy System – hydrogen system for transportation and electricity generation

(c)    Establishment of Green Energy Group in ASM

(d)   Establish Green Energy Standards and impose tax on polluters

(e)   Capacity building

    4. Discussion and Conclusion

         The two lectures received a lot of interest from the participants with many raising up their hands to pose questions and make comments.  Time only permitted four among those present and the issues raised revolve around:

(a)   Pico Hydro – in response to the question posed as to the potential of this aspect of renewable energy, Pro Kamaruzzaman felt as Malaysia has high rainfall with many sources of water system that can be contructed, pico hydro has a big potential.  However logistics can hinder and  its development can be confined only to isolated villages.

(b)   Nuclear Energy -  this source of renewable energy was not discussed much by the two speakers and inspite of the question posed not much was said

(c)    Hydrogen System – though both speakers are strong proponent of this renewable energy, it is felt that much research work still needs to be undertaken and resources are still lacking for its uptake

(d)   Energy economy under the capitalist economic system – from the discussion it is obvious that the direction of development of renewable energy will largely be influenced by the capitalists, who will view the availability of technologies and resources in the light of where they could get the highest profit, with perhaps, little social and environmental considerations. Accordingly, government intervention will have to come in to steer the direction it wants to go on renewable energy, taking cognisance of the three dimensional approach of harmonising wealth creation, social needs and environmental protection.

On a personal basis I have found the lectures very informative and enlightening.  As an environment conscious individual, having served for a long period as Vice-President of Malaysian Nature Society with Tan Sri Salleh Moh Noor and linked up with other environmental NGOs in Sabah, I came out of the lecture hall that day with optimism as human ingenuity in science and technology, is paving different routes to show the way for the well being of human kind, in this instance, green solutions to the energy economy. Also, having been associated with the Academy for around three years, I feel that the Academy of Sciences Malaysia is under good hands and that it will pursue key scientific issues such as this iconic project and serve as the pressure and knowledge group to provide the political leadership the way forward. Long live ASM. 
Dr. Hashim bin Abdul Wahab, FASc
Website: Dr. Hashim's JofHappiness
Date of Posting : 2nd November, 2013