Lifestyle | Energy

3 megatrends driving the future of energy

How can Malaysia steer itself towards a cleaner, carbon-free future in energy use and generation? Learn the 3 megatrends to set us on a green pathway with energy security in the race to be a developed nation.

“The time for action is now,” call out activists at COP27 in Egypt. Activists and environmentalists are demanding an end to the extraction of fossil fuel. However, as industrialisation intensifies post-pandemic to meet latent demand, energy use become crucial.

Malaysia is driving efforts to hasten its transition to renewables as a pathway to energy security, green jobs and a liveable future. 3 key trends will drive these efforts:

Electrification is often touted as the path to hasten our transition towards a clean, carbon-free world. Unfortunately, for the moment, fossil fuels still make up a huge percentage of electricity generation. Malaysia targets to increase the share of renewable energy (RE) in its installed capacity to 31% in 2025 and 40% in 2035 under its power generation plan. Malaysia is blessed with abundant RE resources readily exploitable for power generation such as year-round solar irradiation, agriculture, domestic and industrial waste for bioenergy combustion and the presence of river basins for small hydroelectric power. The electricity supply industry in Malaysia currently is led by coal (47%), natural gas (41%) and renewables including hydro (12%).

For electricity to become emissions-free, we must move further towards renewable energy solutions such as wind, solar, and biofuels. With cleaner electricity source available, Malaysia’s National Energy Policy 2022-2040 to increase the presence of Electric Vehicles on the road from less than 1% currently to 38% by 2040 will also go a long way in our race to zero.

This trend is all about transitioning away from our current system of highly centralised energy grids towards distributed energy production systems and localised “microgrids,” where consumers can generate their own electricity for their own needs. Malaysias’ National Energy Policy 2022-2040 aspires to accommodate greater variable RE penetration, including the digitalisation and modernisation of the power system through smart grids. The Smart Grid system allows consumers to decide the type of power source their electricity comes from. For example, people can choose if they want to have most of their energy supply coming from renewable sources such as solar photovoltaic and hydropower.

So rooftop solar panels are likely to become more popular and this is exciting because it means individual consumers and organisations can take charge of their own energy portfolio.

The use of digital machines, devices, and technology to optimise energy production, infrastructure, and use means digitalisation is inextricably contributing to lower and more flexible energy demand. With “intelligent” everything these days, from intelligent vacuum cleaners to intelligent coffee machines, why not intelligent energy networks? As energy networks become more complex to support zero-carbon energy sources, decentralised grids will need intelligent solutions to monitor and manage the fluctuating demand. Digital tools will help overcome these challenges. Enter AI and predictive analysis to monitor where power is drawn from, the Internet of Things to help consumers cut their energy use or Digital twins to create a virtual replica of a power plant or even an entire grid, allowing providers to model different scenarios, make better decisions, and improve efficiencies.

We are looking at a complete overhaul of the energy sector, and the emergence of Energy 4.0, as industries transition towards Industry 4.0 applications. Agility to transform is key if you want to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive sector.