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Monday, 28 Aug, 2017

Switch to electric would be costly

“IT’S going to be electrifying under the hood” (The Star, Aug 25) was an interesting read.

It is hoped that in five years’ time, Malaysian cars would go fully electric. And electric cars are also projected to cost less than conventional cars, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Switching to electric cars is environmentally desirable but the generation of sufficient electricity to recharge is crucial.

To realise this, the Government must introduce policies that would promote the transition from fossil-fuel transport to electric.

It is fortunate that much of the manufacturing intelligence associated with fossil fuel-powered vehicles is identical to that required for electric vehicles.

Malaysian automotive engineering know-how must be suitably geared to making the transition to the electric end-product a reality.

But the question that arises is: “Where will the electricity come from to charge the batteries of the vehicles?”

Electricity output in Malaysia is generated primarily from the burning of limited fossil fuel resources such as oil, coal or natural gas that unfortunately contribute greatly to environmental pollution.

Natural gas production has steadily risen year by year, becoming one of our primary energy suppliers.

In tandem with our economic development, the demand for electricity over the past decade has kept pace and is almost twice the rate of our population growth.

According to the United States Energy Association, 45% of electricity demand in our country came from the industrial sector, while residential and commercial use accounted for 33% and 21% respectively in 2012.

However, it must be noted that biofuel sources such as biodiesel have been almost negligible even though Malaysia plays a significant role in global palm oil production and supply, a key component used for biodiesel production.

If recent experience is anything to go by, the country has only just enough power generation for existing needs.

Connecting mammoth numbers of electric car chargers to the grid would overwhelm the system, especially after sunset when most owners would be free to charge their vehicles. Right now, the number of power stations in the country is grossly inadequate. As a rough projection, the number of power stations in the country would need to be quadrupled.

Renewable energy power stations are the clarion call but the negative point is that the investment would have to be massive. Also, solar power is only built up during the day.

The Government could also be faced by a dilemma: what is convenient and environmentally friendly for the consumer would be a revenue income problem once battery-run vehicles become mainstream as the tax on fuels would be gone.

DR A. SOORIAN

Seremban

Source : The Star

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