By Raveen Jeyakumar
Malaysia has a couple of alternative sources of renewable energy that could be harnessed:
- the waste from palm oil processing factories, which can be processed to generate hydrogen gas, and
- the waste at landfill sites, which can be converted to energy
Waste from palm oil processing
Effluents from palm oil processing factories release large amounts of methane gas. The government should ensure that large processing plants capture the released methane gas.
The methane gas can be processed to produce hydrogen gas, which can then be stored.
The stored hydrogen gas can be used to generate electricity through the use of fuel cells.
Waste from landfill sites
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Waste-to-energy plants should be built at every large landfill site throughout the country.
The waste incinerated at these sites produces heat, which is used for a ‘boiler’ to convert water into steam. The high-pressure steam turns the blades of a turbine generator to produce electricity.
Electricity generated from renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources has many positive benefits:
It slashes greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, thus reducing the rate of global warming.
The waste-to-energy process using waste from disposal sites enables a smarter and more sustainable management of the country’s waste.
Apart from reducing the amount of waste dumped at these disposal sites, the process also reduces the risk of the waste contaminating the land and water sources near these sites.
The cost of generating and supplying electricity will decrease because we are using renewable energy sources, as opposed to fossil fuels, which are a depleting source of energy.
The use of renewable energy reduces the adverse environmental impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions. Over the long term, it will also ease the financial burden of electricity generation and supply costs for the government and ordinary people
Public buses could be powered by hydrogen energy. Hydrogen energy can be used to power public buses. This will reduce the use of fossil fuels and electric vehicle batteries in buses.
This can only be a good thing, as the burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, while the production of electric vehicle batteries requires extensive mining for certain minerals.
Such mining activities harm the environment by destroying ecosystems, polluting groundwater and posing health risks for miners.
In Malaysia, it may be feasible to use the waste from palm oil processing factories and the waste in landfills as key sources of renewable energy.
With efficient and effective management, such energy sources could shape a more sustainable future for our country.
So the government needs to invest in long-term research into these two waste sources to develop alternative sources of renewable energy.
Raveen Jeyakumar, an Ipoh-based Aliran volunteer, is a writer who is passionate about social and environmental issues. His work can be found at reform-the-system.com