Green energy is overhead and underfoot

WASTE NOT: SP Multitech senior management (from left) director K.Y. Lim, chairman Datuk Afifuddin A. Kadir and group chief executive officer William Tan at SP Multitech's office in Puchong.

KUALA LUMPUR: As the country tries to keep its pledge to cut carbon emissions by 40%, two local companies are paving the way for renewable energy, but from different methods.

One harnesses the power of the sun while the other derives energy from solid waste, and both believe that these systems will lead to a greener environment.

“As electricity tariffs increase, more people are looking for alternative and green ways to power their homes and farms,” said K.Y. Lim, director of SP Multitech Corp Bhd, which specialises in bio-gas production from solid waste, in nearby Puchong.

The other company is Concrete Gold Sdn Bhd, that produces solar panels. Its chief executive officer, Abdul Kadir Ismail, said alternative energy will be the next power generator for the nation.

If no alternatives are found, Malaysia will be a net importer of fossil fuel by 2017, which means we will be buying most of our petrol and gas from other countries, Abdul Kadir claimed.

Both companies showcased their technologies at iGEM (the International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia) 2012 here last week.

Waste not, want not

According to Lim, harvesting energy from waste is not new and several companies in Malaysia are starting to dabble in the sector.

He said that due to the current abundance of subsidised energy sources, not many businesses view researching renewable energy as a viable option.

But knowing the country cannot continue down that path, SP Multitech sought for ways to harness energy from solid waste.

It opted to switch from the typical aerobic system at water treatment plants to an anaerobic process. SP Multitech group chief executive William Tan explained that aerobic treatment merely removes solid waste from the water.

But with an anaerobic treatment, microbes are introduced to breakdown the solid waste and the process produces bio-gas. “This bio-gas or methane is equivalent to the natural gas that is derived from fossil fuel,” Tan said.

He said the technology can be a big help to farmers and livestock owners who can turn the waste into organic fertiliser. “Now they can run their farm with the energy they get from its waste,” he added.

SP Multitech has a set up a three-acre bio-gas plant at a chicken farm in Pajam, Negeri Sembilan. Lim said the farm owner has allocated plots for three more bio-gas plants there.

“Once all is completed, the plant will produce enough energy to power the farm, which has more than one million birds,” he said.

With the renewable energy system in place, the farm will be producing not just chicken meat and eggs, but also organic fertiliser and its own power supply. “That’s eco-friendly,” said Lim.

Bright idea

Another common renewable energy solution is solar panels and according to Abdul Kadir this is an opportunity for individuals to be independent power producers.

“The 2,000 solar rooftop programme under the Sustainable Energy Development Authority of Malaysia is a 21-year initiative where individuals can supply energy harnessed from their solar panels to supply the national grid at RM1.68 per 1KwH (kilowatt hour) of energy,” he explained.

But Concrete Gold is not stopping at harnessing solar power for renewable energy. It is also funding research at a local university for its Pico Hydro project, which aims to come up with a solution to supply electricity to rural homes.

Abdul Kadir likened Pico Hydro to a mini hydroelectric dam, but instead of harnessing a big reservoir, it works with small streams.

“We estimate that a single device can be used to light up about five houses, as well as power small electrical appliances such as an iron or radio,” he said.

The concept is now being tested in a village in Pahang.

Baby steps

Lim and Abdul Kadir said the uptake of renewable energy will accelerate soon enough, as more Malaysians start to adopt a greener lifestyle.

“We are taking small steps now, like separating our rubbish for recycling and opting for energy-efficient home appliances. The awareness is there,” Abdul Kadir said.

However, Tan believes the green industry still needs to develop further, and that more experts are needed in this field.

“Now there aren’t enough, which is why we are working with a local university to train and develop more skilled people for the industry,” he said.

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