Green growth for our cities

Nanning is known as the “Green City of China”

A FORTNIGHT ago I was in Nanning, China, for the 4th Forum on China-Asean Technology Transfer and Collaborative Innovation.

“ Welcome to the Green City of China” – I was greeted with this slogan upon my arrival in Nanning.

Situated in southern China, this capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is known for its lush foliage.

It is a city of over seven million population, as compared to the entire Sabah’s 3.8 million.

In nine Chinese cities including Beijing, 90 per cent of the total air pollution is caused by emission from vehicles, industrial production, coal burning and dust. To cope with the population growth, China has been tightening its environmental protection laws.

This measure is boosting the shares of electric vehicle makers. In Nanning, I observe the impressive ubiquitous presence of electric motorcycles and bicycles.

Back home in Malaysia, the government has been supportive of green initiatives. Cohesive Mobility Solution or Comos, the country’s first electric vehicle sharing program, was funded by the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), an agency under the purview of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), at its start-up stage.

Users can pick up these vehicles at selected LRT stations and public spots. The pick-up locations conveniently act as charging stations too – you unplug the charging cable before the journey and plug it back upon return.

Electric vehicles are dependent on joining technologies of battery cells to produce the optimum power and energy density.

Yet another impressive innovation is a unique and cost-effective non-welding technique for battery assembly in electric vehicles by a Malaysian company, Eclimo.

A recent white paper by Frost & Sullivan shows that the method developed by Eclimo is 67 per cent superior to the ultrasonic welding, which is the industry standard method used by companies such as Tesla and Cadillac in producing their batteries.

Impressively, Eclimo has leased almost 270 electric scooters incorporating these battery cells to fast food outlet KFC for delivery services.

The local municipal authorities in Penang and Melaka have also adopted this green mode of transport for their enforcement officers. In Penang and Pahang, tourists could rent them to explore the attractions in an eco-friendly manner.

In Cambodia where heritage sites like Angkor Watt are located, these Malaysian made environmental-friendly and energy efficient electric scooters are increasingly replacing the 10,000 units of taxis serving four million tourists a year in the Angkor Watt area.

Earlier this year it was reported that a hundred units would be sold to Cambodia. It would be fascinating to see electric “Tuk Tuk” ferrying tourists in the area, which would also limit the air pollution impact to this world tourism attraction.

Adding to our achievements in electric vehicles, MOSTI has also funded Voltron, a company that innovated electric pedal-assisted bicycles, at its pre commercialisation and commercialisation stages.

Under the Sikal Elektrik Rakyat 1 Malaysia (SER1M) program, Voltron is deploying over a thousand units of these electric bicycles to six local universities. Polis Diraja Malaysia, Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya and Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya would also be using these innovative bicycles.

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With other ministers and delegates at the 4th Forum on China-ASEAN Technology Transfer and Collaborative Innovation.

Meanwhile, NanoMalaysia Berhad, also an agency under MOSTI, is strategically leading the nanotechnology revolution in the clean technology sector, making cleaner energy accessible to everyone.

We could use nanotechnology, defined as the technology to manipulate materials at the atomic level, to re-design the tools to harvest energy from sunlight, bio-mass, waste and even water with higher precision, which in turn leads to higher efficiency and productivity.

The world is predicted to be no longer depending on fossil fuel as both energy and economic sources in the next century.

In anticipation, Malaysia through the National Key Economic Areas Electrical & Electronics’ Entry Point Project 20, “Enabling Industries for Nanotechnology”, focuses on building up renewable energy and solar power capacities, further developing sustainable resources which are expected to contribute RM 457.5 million in GNI four years from now.

Since Asia is the world’s largest emitter of carbon, Malaysia can leverage on the breakthroughs in nanotechnology and take a leading role in turning the situation into a higher and inclusive national income through renewable cleaner energy technology.

We are gearing towards decarbonising the economic growth.

14379607_1133189090094771_2952219321414660486_oDelivering my speech at the forum.

In this coming 4th Industrial Revolution, one effective and attractive way to turn a window into a power-generating device is through the use of dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) – the 3rd generation photovoltaic technology that could use both natural and artificial light to generate electricity.

Imagine the vast amount of windows on skyscrapers and office buildings in our cities being transformed into power generating devices that can power the whole nation.

Integrating buildings with DSSC technology will turn a building into a self-generating power station and help reduce the building’s energy footprint.

DSSC is usually used on windows because it generates electricity during the day using sunlight and at night, uses fluorescent lamps in the buildings. In other words, DSSC enables windows and rooftops to convert sun light into electricity from dawn till dusk.

DSSC is cheaper as it is made from low-cost materials and does not require elaborate apparatus in its manufacturing process. Global DSSC market value was estimated to be at USD 49.6 million in 2014 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 12 per cent from 2015 to 2022.

Mosti is further developing flexible DSSC technology, pursued by Centre of Innovative Nanostructures & Nanodevices, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, with NanoMalaysia as the key commercialisation partner.

Malaysia is entering the graphene enhanced lithium-ion battery industry thus the National Graphene Action Plan 2020 programme could complement the National Automotive Policy, a policy that aims to turn Malaysia into a regional automotive hub in Energy Efficient Vehicles.

Our target is to have 85 per cent of total vehicles produced in Malaysia in 2020 to be Energy Efficient Vehicles.

The industry’s revenue potential from establishing production of graphene-enabled automotive lithium-ion batteries could reach RM 3.5 billion in four years.

Back in Nanning, as our vehicle carefully navigated around the moving chicanes created by dozens of electric bikes on the road, I envisioned our own cities to adopt this green growth approach too.

We must shift from a “grow first, clean up later” development model towards one that views resilient, low-emission, resource-efficient and socially inclusive development as an upfront investment that would yield gains in generations to come.

 

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