The Go Green Dilemma

In Malaysia, there’s so much talk about going green and use of renewable energy (RE) more to meet our electricity and power needs – be it for households, business offices and factories. The most common RE is solar. Other popular RE are wind, biogas, biomass and thermal, hydro – mostly used in large scale operations like plantation and factories.

Source: http://www.seda.gov.my/about-seda/re-programmes/

Here I’d like to discuss some about solar as it covers residential – the people. Further search on Google, there are actually a lot of solar companies available in Malaysia – more than 20! I listed some down here:

  • ERS
  • Pekat Teknologi
  • Plus Solar
  • Solar Vest
  • Ditrolic Solar
  • Sols Energy
  • Ray Go Solar
  • Solar System Malaysia
  • MAQO Group
  • Simpli Solar

Some of these companies listed above provide only for business buildings and factories, some cover residential as well. There has been slow take up rate from the residential customers, although many claims that the solar photovoltaic (PV) panel is getting cheaper.

“Solar technology has matured and costs have become more competitive. Solar PV panel prices has fell 80% since 2009,” she said, adding that this is also one reason quota for solar is no longer offered under the fit-in-tariff (FiT) mechanism.

– YB Yeo Bee Yin, Minister MESTECC, Malaysia

Upon checking, on average the price of outright purchase of the PV panel is around RM 25,000 (USD 1 = RM 4.3) for residential houses. For factories it is more because the Kw (kilowatt) will be higher.

There’s also some incentives under the RE incentives provided by the government. However the incentives will be claimed by the solar providers because they will help the customers with FREE roof suitability and installation if suitable (roof angle and access issues).

There are companies offer solar leasing package, therefore customers do not need ot pay any single cent throughout period (depend on the providers). This package is a standard leased agreement called SARE (Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy). Typically the lease will be for 10-20 years. The best part in this period, customers do not need to pay any money, downpayment or installment to enjoy the benefits. This include maintenance and warranty of the system altogether.

Source: http://clipart-library.com/download-solar-panel-gif.html

Will this reduce your electricity bill? According to most solar providers, your electricity will go lower by 5-25% on your consumption before solar. In other words, this lower bill isn’t on monthly basis once you used solar. You get to save the planet along the way! Some providers claim you can save RM 200/month for 21 years (that will add up to RM 48,000). Again, I think this kind of sales-pitch needs clear evidence or stated in the contract; because once you signed, ehem it will be very difficult to get out; perhaps? 😉

Additionally, let say, you have great roof for sun radiation and you generated more solar than you need or use, you can trade (sell) this extra power back to the provider and earn some income. This package is called Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme. In NEM scheme as explained by the Minister of MESTECC, YB Yeo, there’ll be no price difference in buy and purchase of solar tariffs.

Source: https://www.simplisolar.com/site/resources/what-is-net-energy-metering-nem/

However, as a customer I still have concerns with the design of the contract. Especially it is about getting into contract for 10-20 years, it is actually very long. As it is, car hire purchase is long enough (7-9 years). My challenge is I couldn’t find the exact figure of the fine details to these questions:

  1. What if the solar installed didn’t bring much value in savings for me? Can I change back to normal power supply?
  2. How much supply coming from solar do I need as residential customer? Is it 100% or 80%? How much do I need to pay for the additional cost difference for normal power supply?
  3. What if the solar provider close down? What is my risk?
  4. What if I wanted to sell the house? Will my solar agreement stuck there to new tenant? Or I can take it with me to my new house?
  5. Since the leasing is with Third Part Operator (TPO), what is the cost of change of tenancy (COT)?
  6. How much do I need to pay to get out of the contract?
  7. Does this package have insurance covering the system?
  8. Is there any fee to become NEM provider? Because supply and sell back the power is two different component, am I right to think this way?
  9. What if the person who sign the contract passed away? And I have to sell the property and get out of the solar contract, how do I do this?
  10. Over 10-20 years in the contract, the PV panel price is going down lower and becoming more efficient, would the customer get upgrade included in the package or stuck with the old technology?

“Consumers want to go green, but above all we want to save money.”

– Consumers
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What If You Can Trap CO2?

I was waiting  for my laptop to boot, somehow it takes longer today than any other day. I then turn and flip some magazines  – found a company called Climeworks. They were listed as one of the innovators in climate action business. Pretty cool! Actually their climate solution is focusing on decarbon the air. They call it “Active Air Capture”.

Basically the solution works by blowing air through reusable filters that chemically trap CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). Then heating the saturated filters to release the gas then inject it underground to bind with basaltic rock, which can hold it indefinitely. Wohauu!!

I headed on to their website and found this. Climeworks work with three main sectors namely Food & Beverage, Greenhouses and Energy, Fuels & Materials. What I found interesting was in Food & Beverage – where CO2 is needed to make carbonated drinks, here they want CO2! See below – from Climeworks website

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.17.50 AM

Source: http://www.climeworks.com/our-customers/food-beverage/

Apparently in F&B business, they need CO2 to do this activities such as packing fresh meat & vegetables, gas for draft beers and softdrinks and dry ice for freezing & chilling food.

It is interesting because of the cyclical model of CO2. As it explains in the picture above. The CO2 release will be captured back and used back in carbonating the drinks! Violaa!

As for farmers in greenhouses, raising CO2 level could increase yield as much as 20%! The best part this CO2 is renewable. Check out their table below:

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.22.21 AM

Source: http://www.climeworks.com/our-customers/greenhouses/

Personally I feel this technology works best in certain environment, as Climeworks based  in Iceland. I am not sure whether this method works in other place. The model looks convincing, nonetheless.

Some other considerations is the capacity of capturing the CO2 and release it back as renewable energy into sectors that use CO2. Wondering whether there’s such a thing called CO2 trading online using blockchain technology.

You can get more information here www.climeworks.com

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