Malaysia needs to accelerate sustainable energy transition

By Dr. Izyan Munirah Mohd Zaideen, senior lecturer at Faculty of Maritime Studies, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu; and Captain Mohd Faizal Ramli, EHS Marine Specialist in oil and gas sector.

Malaysia is geographically privileged in that it is surrounded by the sea, with long coastline providing crucial conditions for harvesting renewable energy from ocean resources. Given the rising fuel prices on the global market, renewable energy is now the best option, including marine renewable energy from tidal, wave, ocean thermal, and salinity gradient.  Therefore, there is urgency for the government and stakeholders to explore this option.

Marine renewable energy has huge potential to contribute to a more sustainable energy transition to achieve energy security, economic prosperity, and environmentally sustainable development. Energy transition was already on politicians’ agendas, and the government has enacted a number of legislation and promoted the development of renewable energy. 

Energy transitions need strategic planning to cut down on waste, improve the way energy is generated sustainably and align with worldwide initiatives to speed the shift to renewable energy sources in order to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The adoption of renewable energy also symbolizes a nationwide transformation effort aimed at preserving environmental sustainability.  

Although at first glance, renewable energy looks to be more expensive but in reality, the cost of conventional energy is higher, considering the pollution cost.  Moreover, renewable energy installations can be relatively easy to decommission and recycle at the end of their lives.  Comparatively, with conventional power generation like nuclear and coal, there are financial liabilities and environmental damage.

The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, through the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), finalized the Malaysia Renewable Energy Roadmap 2035 in 2021 to promote and steer the industry toward meeting renewable energy targets and developing low-carbon energy sectors. SEDA’s dedication and effort, in accordance with our national vision, not only assists with environmental sustainability but also provides value to human resource and renewable energy development while giving economic benefits to the nation.

However, a long-term renewable energy transition strategy cannot be accomplished by just putting technology in communities and expecting people to embrace it. A social movement that brings together technological solutions with political, economic, social, and cultural changes in energy resources is an important part of a successful energy transition.  Public acceptance of renewable energy is important.

Malaysians should be motivated to voluntarily decarbonize by adopting more energy-efficient appliances. Efforts should be undertaken across the nation to increase public knowledge about the role of renewable energy in generating regional energy solutions, as well as to encourage community-based participation in long-term energy transformation.

Beside support from the public, government’s incentives and participation of the private sector are important too.  The Malaysian authorities should engage with the private sector to ensure there is coordination among all the stakeholders regarding appropriate technological, economic, environmental, and political conditions for the growth and sustainability of marine renewable energy. 

Photo credit: iStock/ RossHelen

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