Ministry to take on 80 initiatives

PUTRAJAYA: With the Sungai Kim Kim toxic pollution and plastic waste crises grabbing headlines, it’s easy to miss what else the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc) has been doing.

Minister Yeo Bee Yin (pic), who helms the vast ministry, has been implementing 80 initiatives across its many agencies since assuming the post on July 2 last year.

Part of the initiatives touch on energy, especially renewable energy, research and development, start-­up funding and climate change.Yeo said the chief reason behind these initiatives was to spur job and wealth creation.

Initiatives such as e-bidding, improved Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Energy Efficiency (EE), amd projects like the RM2bil Large-Scale Solar 3 scheme, she said, were met with enthusiastic response.

“For the large-scale solar scheme, we received 719 tender documents for the first 500 megawatts,” she said in an interview with the press in conjunction with the first year anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government on May 9.

Yeo said in the past, only 17MW out of the 500MW quota under NEM, which allows electricity consumers in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah to sell excess electricity generated from their solar PV systems back to the grid, was taken up in a three-year period.

“As of Jan 1 this year, 11MW has been filled,” she said.

Yeo also earlier announced competitive bidding for Large-Scale Solar projects via a six-month open tender from February to August.

All in all, the ministry has announced tenders of at least RM3.2bil in contracts this year, involving renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including retrofits of 50 government­-owned buildings with EE technology worth about RM200mil.

“Energy efficiency is the lowest hanging fruit. Besides savings in electricity bills, it lowers CO2 emissions,” Yeo pointed out.

With the government having set the goal of achieving 20% in renewable energy by the year 2025 and a 2006 survey showing a higher job ratio for 1MW of energy per hour via renewable means, Yeo is confident of the sector’s potential in driving investments and employment.

Still on the horizon, however, is the Malaysian Electricity Supply Industry (Mesi) , a series of reforms for the country’s energy sector, which will be announced in June.

The reforms, Yeo assured, would be managed in a controlled manner and “not inject shocks”.

“We must keep the balance between investors’ confidence and the changes we want to bring about.

“It will make the market more sustainable, competitive, efficient and greener,” she said.

Last month, Mestecc also started to cultivate the sharing of scientific equipment, open data and human resources with the private sector, particularly small and medium-sized industries, to increase research and development.

Yeo said it had so far identified over 900 pieces of scientific equipment that might have been too pricey for SMEs and were under-utilised in the agencies under a two-year project.

“In Malaysia, only 12% of research and development is in the private sector while in South Korea, for instance, it is 80%. Much of our research is in the public sector, and are likely to remain as research papers,” she explained.

Yeo said that as a start, 100 researchers under its agencies would be deployed to carry out research in various companies.

“It’s a pilot project. They can choose to work for between six months and two years and either full or part-time. In the first quarter, 10 researchers will be sent out.

“This is so that the public sector knows what the needs of our industries are,” she said, adding that the posting would be carried out under a “job matching” method.

“If it’s successful, we will pitch to the other ministries,” added Yeo.

She said a taskforce had also been set up to consolidate the venture capital funds – Cradle (Fund Sdn Bhd), Kumpulan Modal Per­dana Sdn Bhd, MDTC (Malaysian Tech­no­logy Development Corpora­tion), MDV (Malaysian Debt Ven­tures Bhd) and Mavcap (Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd) – under her ministry and to further strategise and incentivise technopreneur funding industry.

Previously, the five funds were under various ministries.

“We are already doing a Cabinet paper on the way forward, and how we can build up a venture capital ecosystem for start-up technology.

“We’ve done all our studies,” said Yeo, adding that there would be an announcement once the paper had been approved.

“All this again is about creating wealth through science and technology,” she said.

In addition to setting up a Climate Change Centre, which would not require additional assets and funding, as this would be repurposed from an existing agency, Yeo said it was working with a team from Britain on coming up with a Climate Change Act.

“Britain already has a Climate Change Act, which will act as a reference.

“The Act will make industries take account of their CO2 emissions when making plans or the impact of a rise of 2°C in pre-industrial levels on their businesses.”

It looks like the ministry has been very busy indeed.




Petronas to acquire renewable energy firm


PETALING JAYA: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) will soon mark its international foray into renewable energy once it completes the acquisition of Amplus Energy Solutions Pte Ltd, better known as M+ later this month.

The state-owned oil and gas (O&G) giant has entered into an agreement with I Squared Capital to acquire a 100% interest in M+, a leading Singapore-based company with a portfolio of distributed, renewable energy assets in Asia.

M+ specialises in end-to-end solutions for rooftop and ground-mounted solar power projects, catering to commercial and industrial customers.

The company, which was established 2013, has a cumulative capacity of over 500MW under operation and development, serving more than 150 commercial and industrial customers in over 200 locations across India, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

“This also represents our first international solar venture and we look forward to providing energy solutions to our customers in these high-growth energy markets,” he said in a statement yesterday.

I Squared Capital founding partner Gautam Bhandari said M+ has grown by over 400% annually under I Squared Capital to become a world-class, end-to-end company serving the corporates in Asia to reduce their greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

Meanwhile, Petronas is also working on a number of clean energy initiatives in Malaysia such as the joint development of large-scale solar photovoltaic power plants and on-campus energy optimisation and solar rooftop projects.

This will be done in collaboration with UiTM Holdings Sdn Bhd, the investment arm of Universiti Teknologi Mara.


ABB showcases new central and string inverter solutions at Intersolar 2019 Munich


At Intersolar 2019 in Munich, ABB will present a fully integrated portfolio to deliver greater performance, including new inverter solutions and Balance of System (BoS) components at the edge of technology. The company will also show medium-voltage packaged solutions for power collection and grid connection and storage technologies, along with ABB Ability smart digital monitoring and control solutions.

“At Intersolar 2019, we want to provide customers with a complete 360° portfolio that enables them to scale-up, use emerging technologies safely and have the ability to deliver a resilient renewable energy system for future generations,” said Giampiero Frisio, head of ABB’s Smart Power Business line.

Utility-scale solutions

ABB will unveil its latest PVS980-58 central inverter at the show, which is shortlisted for the Intersolar Award 2019.

As one of the first on the European market to offer high-power capabilities, with plug and play integration to the power block, this inverter offers a unique hybrid cooling concept based on thermosiphon (patented) and forced air-cooling technology.

This development in PVS980-58 inverter technology delivers high performance, reliability and increased uptime and lifetime for large PV power plants. As well as being engineered with proven components, a compact and modular design, and supported by full lifecycle services from ABB, PVS980-58 balances system costs and improves Levelized Cost for Electricity (LCOE) for utilities.

“We’ve seen a tremendous jump to current 1,500-VDC inputs in the solar industry, as utilities look to decrease system losses, balance plant costs and increase power output,” said Frisio. “This trend also sees many photovoltaic plants reduce the number of components needed, which makes logistics easier, installation times shorter and wiring costs lower.”

ABB will showcase several components that focus on delivering continuous operation, higher reliability and return on investment, enabling customers to take full advantage of savings by adopting 1,500-VDC and 800-VAC technologies.

This includes ABB’s new GF contactor range, which provides tailored solutions to enable automatic and energy efficient remote control and switching within 1,500 VDC circuits inside central inverters. On the AC side, the Tmax T5X-HA UL circuit-breaker and InLine II fuse gear can manage currents up to 800 VAC, further supporting the integration of wider voltage architectures in solar power plants.

Robust support and connection to the grid will be provided by a wide range of products and solutions, including a complete range of Compact Secondary Substations, skid solutions and eHouses, all equipped with ABB switchgear, Relion protection relays, transformers and low-voltage components.

String solutions for smart residential and C&I applications

ABB will underline its commitment to smart building photovoltaics applications with its complete range of PV string inverters, including the newly launched UNO-DM-Q. The company will also showcase solutions for the home energy eco-system including REACT 2, its unique modular hybrid solar-plus-storage solution, alongside all other residential components and products, which provide a full energy solution to homeowners.

ABB will also feature its latest plug and play battery energy storage system, PQpluS, together with key smart C&I solar-plus-storage technologies.

The new PQpluS system controls the electricity that consumers generate to reduce energy costs by improving overall efficiency, reliability and availability of the power system. It can also be used where multiple energy sources such as wind, solar, diesel or other generators operate in parallel and where the integrator’s high-level system controller coordinates the overall operation. It is supported by the PQstorI inverter, which features embedded power quality functionalities.

Digital offerings

ABB has also developed new digital offerings, which use the ABB Ability platform to help installers, professionals and prosumers make full use of their PV systems, bring down costs and manage energy consumption.

The ABB Ability Installer App will deliver savings up to 70% on plant commissioning time with instant accessibility to date for commissions, configuration and parameter setting of multiple inverters via any Android and iSO device.

The ABB Ability Energy Viewer mobile App is an easy to use, free of charge tool for owners of ABB solar inverters to remotely monitor all energy flows and the performance for their PV installation, with or without an energy storage system.

Visitors will also be able to find out more on the trusted ABB Ability platform which provides the foundation for deep visibility into system health, diagnostic control and setting of all efficient PV installations.

“We have a clear goal to innovate solutions that really write the future of energy. It’s this goal that will empower customers to harness the sun’s potential and we look forward to showcasing our comprehensive range at Intersolar 2019,” concluded Frisio.

The ABB Intersolar stand will see visitors experience the future of solar energy and take advantage of intelligent control through digitalization tools to deliver the next generation solar power plant.


AI can help fight climate change by optimizing energy efficiency

AI can help fight climate change by optimizing energy efficiency

Man-made climate change is an undeniable fact, and the need to mitigate its damage is all too real. We need to make drastic changes in the next 12 years to prevent climate disasters and reach our goal of restricting an increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Time is of the essence, and that’s where AI comes in.

“AI can make it much cheaper and much faster to analyze consumption data to find patterns that you can use to lower and make your energy use more efficient,” Henrik Brink told TNW at North Star AI in Estonia.

Check out the lineup so far for TNW2019

Google, Reddit, and Slack will be there.

That’s why Brink founded Ento Labs, which helps companies and homes achieve better energy efficiency using AI — saving money and the environment.

“Energy efficiency is the only really direct way of lowering emissions,” says Brink. “And according to our initial research, there’s a huge opportunity for lowering emissions. There’s so many low hanging fruits of companies and industries that can be optimized a lot.”

Brink points out that the need for energy worldwide will skyrocket, if we continue on our path of electrifying more parts of our energy usage. Electrifying allows us to cut down direct emissions which is extremely important, but we need to couple that with energy efficiency to keep the indirect emissions of electricity production low. Basically, we need to optimize energy efficiency, which is AI’s forte.

Brink and his team created ‘Ento AI’ to help companies forecast their consumption and plan accordingly. The tool recommends specific energy efficiency initiatives — some in real-time — based on environmental impact and return on investment. Cynics could point out this is the ‘money-making way’ to save the climate, but realistically speaking, it could be the best way to get major businesses and industries to rethink their emissions.

Optimizing energy efficiency with AI can be an incredibly complex matter, but one of its simpler examples is choosing when to use energy. A big part of future energy grids is batteries, which can be used to store excess energy, and mitigate the variable output of renewables such as solar and wind. AI is essential in making these systems work, as it’s fast enough to observe a myriad of variables, and make real-time adjustments to ensure the least polluting energy source is always chosen.

Getting data to go green

Using AI to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions is an incredibly promising approach, but it hinges on the availability of data — the lifeblood of AI.

“The key is good data, because if you just have data, you have to spend a lot of time cleaning it. That’s usually what you have to do for a company, as many have old databases scattered around in various places,” explains Brink. “You can’t just take it and use it.”

This problem also exists in our larger grids. Smart meters are becoming more common, giving infinitely better insights than manually checking them a couple of times a year. However, in most cases, this data is locked up or not gathered centrally, making AI optimization much harder.

“Centralized data hubs really allow us to build these models with one format. That’s what makes it scalable, and if it’s not scalable, it won’t have a meaningful impact,” says Brink.

Companies like Google are already using AI-based energy solutions for their servers, but if we’re to apply AI solutions on a bigger scale, we’ll need better data to support innovation by AI startups and companies.

A handful of countries in Europe — like Denmark, where Ento Labs is based — provide companies and researchers with the opportunity to access energy consumption data to benefit the environment and consumers. More countries need to catch up on the fact that changing the way they handle data could be a step towards achieving emission goals — allowing AI to find solutions we haven’t already.

Brink believes that this is only the beginning of AI’s role in cutting down emissions and finding more sustainable ways for energy consumption.

“AI will help plan future rates and future energy production, so that it will become cleaner. And the only way it can do that is if you understand the consumption in a very detailed way,” Brink explains.

With current climate models, we need to have net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050, and almost net zero a whole lot earlier. We can achieve that by eating less meat, using renewable energy, and cuting down on plastic and single-use products — as well as running initiatives for proper data curation. It’s our shared responsibility to use all the tools at our disposal to mitigate climate change, and AI is one of them.