Monday August 16, 2010

Higher supply of power for peninsula


Ministry plans plant-up of an additional 2,000 MW

PUTRAJAYA: The Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry is planning for the plant-up of an additional 2,000 MW of power, which is 400 MW higher than the amount originally sought from the Bakun dam.

“As the economy picks up amid the bullish projections, it is safer for Peninsular Malaysia, in terms of industrialisation, to ensure that the power supplied exceeds the amount that was planned under the previous submarine cable transmission project from Bakun to the peninsula,’’ Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin told StarBiz.

“When we do the planning, we look at two things: to provide the necessary power to make up for the loss from Bakun and retire some of the old plants in the peninsula,’’ he said.

Chin was referring to the scrapped undersea cable project that was supposed to transmit 1,600 MW to the peninsula via two cables of 800 MW each.

Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui … ‘The investment in cable transmission is tremendous and would reflect on the tariffs.’

“The investment in cable transmission is tremendous and would reflect on the tariffs. It is convenient to transmit power from Bakun but if anything goes wrong with the cable, we will be cutting off 1,600 MW of power supply for Peninsular Malaysia,’’ he said.

The Energy Commission hopes to identify the power company that will plant up an additional 1,000 MW of electricity by the end of January next year.

The commission is still in the consultative process, evaluating the proposals submitted by three bidders for existing sites – Tenaga Nasional Bhd (Janamanjung), Malakoff Bhd (Tanjung Bin) and Jimah Power Sdn Bhd (Jimah).

The winner of the bid has to ensure that the plant will be operational by the first quarter of 2015.

The second plant can be a greenfield project which probably would take longer to plan, as it involves site investigations and compliance with environmental requirements.

Electricity consumption per capita in Malaysia now stands at about 3,412 kWh a year, significantly higher than most developing countries, but still below the average in developed countries.

It is projected to more than double to 7,571 kWh per person in 2030, higher than that of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation region average of 6,833 kWh per person.

Chin said the decision to build a coal-fired plant, instead of using hydropower from Bakun, did put the energy mix into some imbalance.

“We can make up for that in other ways,’’ he said. “With the feed-in-tariff (FIT) to be in place by next year, we anticipate more plant-ups with photovoltaic installations and biomass technology.

“It will take time to build up these renewable energy sources but we hope this trend will continue with people powering their homes with photovoltaic installations,’’ he said.

The Government is planning to implement a FIT policy to encourage industries and households to install solar panels and sell their excess power to utility companies.

The proposed feed-in-tariff is being drafted and is expected to be passed into law by parliament by the end of the year.

Once passed, the FIT could enable industries and households to sell power to the main grid during the day and buy it at night.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the excess power can be sold to Tenaga Nasional Bhd, while in Sarawak, it can be sold to Sarawak Energy Bhd.

Two meters have to be installed in households and industries that adopt the FIT system – one for power sold and the other for consumption.

According to reports in July, the rates for electricity generated from renewable energy resources to be purchased by utility companies would be decided once the policy had been passed into law.

However, for Sarawak, the purchase rates would be decided by Sarawak Energy.

The FIT policy, which falls under the country’s national renewable energy policy and action plan, aims to encourage the public to work alongside the Government to generate green and sustainable electricity.

“Although prices are expensive, the world trend per kilowatt is dropping very fast,’’ Chin said.

Currently, a solar power panel that produces one kilowatt costs about RM25,000. A household normally requires a two-kilowatt solar panel.

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