Malaysia's Renewable Energy Scene
Excerpted from a report published by Center for Environment,
Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM) a Malaysian NGO,
member of INforSE.
Solar energy is abundant in Malaysia. Still it has not been very
popular. The report, after a 9-month research funded by DANCED
Malaysia, identifies the bottlenecks and suggests means to break
Malaysia has fossil fuel reserves and plans to extend its grid
to the majority of the country. On the other hand, renewable
energy is freely available, environmentally benign, and a
necessary tool for economic growth and sustainable development.
Renewable Energy is an obvious choice to meet the rapidly
increasing energy demand.
The solar radiation level is high, ranging from 6.6kWh/m2 in
January to 6.0kWh/m2 in August, which is ideal for several
Solar drying is a traditional method to process food like coffee,
pepper, paddy; to store fish and fruits; to process tobacco. The
farmers dry their products under the sun on cement or on trays.
The consumers accept the quality and taste of such products.
Driers are used only when they want to reach acceptable export
standards, e.g., for cocoa, tea, and food products.
Solar water heaters (SWH) have been commercially available since
the late '70s. There are companies that are involved in
manufacturing, assembling, and marketing the system. In 1990,
an estimated 5,460 units were in use, and a 15% annual growth
rate was expected. SWHs have achieved market acceptance without
extensive promotional activities. SWH is seen as a symbol of
modernity. Its visibility to others enhances the owner's
self-image. The major problem is that only 3% of households have
income capability to buy it.
The PV system usage for telecommunication stations is well
established, but it has not got popular among the public like the
SWHs. This is due to problems with systems installed in the
80s; high, increasing energy demand cannot be met with small
systems; and the fact that the utilities are expanding the grid
rapidly. However, there are about 60 villages where PV
installations are planned for 1996/97.
The palm oil industry is rapidly expanding. Presently, there are
2.4 million ha of plantations processed by 271 palm-oil mills.
Renewable-energy utilization is a well established part of the
industry's success stories. The energy from the residues is used
to power improved technology.
The natural rubber output of Malaysia, one of the world's leading
producers, was 1 million tonnes in 1995. The rising demand
from the furniture industry decreases the residue's usage as
fuelwood and charcoal for the steel industry, which is
The rice straw and husks are used for soil conditioning, but the
rice wastes disposed of on-site at the rice mills has potential
for energy use in cogeneration systems.
Biogas usage at pig farms is limited. The waste is not treated,
just washed away in the waterways.
The forest residues are not considered economic to transport.
Sawmill residues are used for making wood briquettes. An ASEAN-EC
COGEN program gave RM3.6 M to fund 6 demonstration cogeneration
The hydro power potential is significant. 39 mini-hydro plants
are in operation from the 125 planned during the 4th Malaysian
The wind power potential seem to be more viable at off-shore
islands, but it has not been assessed yet. The first wind turbine
was installed in 1995 with a capacity of 150kW for electricity
and desalination of sea water.
Need for Action
There is a lack of awareness in many areas of renewable energy
utilisation among the policy makers and the public as well. The
lack of policy to give incentives to develop and utilize
renewable energy resulted in a lack of coordination in terms of
research and application. Further, the large subsidies on
conventional energy reduces the interest for alternatives.
CETDEM has proposed a number of actions to overcome the barriers
for renewable energy, including:
- Publicise renewable energy efforts and success stories via
conferences and the mass media,
- Get the benefits of renewable energy endorsed by the Prime
Ministers Economic Planning Unit, to make the state institutions
use more renewable energy,
- Identify local organizations with valuable experiences in the
- Identify and encourage organizations that would like to train
staff to work for renewable energy; and organize courses for this
- Form a "Clearing House" to collect and disseminate information
on renewable energy,
- Initiate discussions among government, industry and NGOs on
legislation and economic incentives to promote renewable energy.
- Meet the needs for demonstration plants, information and
More info: Gurmit Singh K.S. & Foo Hee Boon, CETDEM, PO Box 382,
46740 Petaling Jaya Malaysia, Ph: 603-77-57767, fax:
603-77-54039, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TABLE: Renewable Energy, 1994
- Palm Oil: 75.7 PJ 155.5 PJ
- Rubber wood: 15.0 PJ 40.5 PJ
- Forest Resid. 7.5 PJ 22.5 PJ
- Solar: 0.23 PJ 9.1 PJ
- Minihydro: 0.17 PJ -
- Wind: 1260 MJ -
- Livestock: 9362 MJ 3x10^8 MJ
- Padi: 3062 MJ 5.7PJ
- Total: 98.6 PJ
- Primary Energy Supply '94 [PJ], (Chart)