Category: Malaysia

Melaka – one of Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities

In August 2016 we left Singapore by bus and landed in Johor Bahru, a city that seems to exist solely for the purpose of supplying Singapore with goods by truck.  We spent one night there before heading to Melaka (also sometimes referred to as Malacca.)  Here we found a small city rich in history, diversity, personality, beauty and with a lot of character.

Part of its history is that it was under Dutch occupation or control for a long time, and there is evidence of this throughout the city.  In the architecture and the way things are named (like the Stadthuys or city hall in the middle of town.)   I found myself wondering if this is the part of the world that so many Cape Malay people in South Africa can trace their heritage back to.  And it turns out that there were slaves sent from Melaka to Cape Town.  I found the experience that much more personal to think on it; that there was such a distant and yet very real link between this city that I had stumbled upon, and my home town.


The 100 Resilient Cities initiative lists the following as Melaka’s resilience challenges:

  • Coastal flooding
  • Cyber attack
  • Declining or ageing population
  • Disease outbreak
  • Landslide
  • Overtaxed/ under developed/unreliable transportation system
  • Poor air quality/pollution
  • Rainfall flooding
  • Rising sea level and coastal erosion

Coastal flooding/Rising sea level and coastal erosion/Rainfall flooding

These concerns are easy to understand.  The city is centred around the Melaka river, which winds its way around the city and flows out to the ocean.  It flows right through the heart of the touristy section of the city, and buildings and infrastructure are built right up to the water’s edge.

There is clearly a lot of history connected to the river.  A beautiful water wheel, ship exhibition, and tourist attractions and activities are set up around the river.  It is therefore not hard to imagine that the city is vulnerable to the effects of flood and sea level rise.

melaka_1 melaka_2 melaka_3 melaka_4melaka_11 melaka_5

Overtaxed/ under developed/unreliable transportation system

We stayed in the city centre.  We had arrived by bus from Johor Bahru and had used a bus to get from the main bus terminal to the hotel where we were staying.  This worked well and was very cheap.  But that is as far as our experience of the public transportation system went.  For the rest of our time, we walked around the city.  We didn’t brave the brightly coloured and adorned tourist tricycles.  But it’s not hard to imagine that the transport system is stretched and stressed.

melaka_7melaka_6melaka_8 melaka_9

Disease outbreak

I’m not really sure what diseases they are referring to with this, but this was one of my favourite signs in Melaka.  My guess is that they’re more worried about non-STD related diseases, but still, play safe folks.


ASEAN energy trends – reflecting after five months in the region

So far on my travels I have been to Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and I am now in Thailand.  I thought it might be a good time to stop and reflect on some of the energy trends in the countries that I have visited, and to give some thought to what I may find in Thailand.  All of these countries form part of the ASEAN group – the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations.

The IEA, in their energy outlook report for 2013 for the ASEAN group, put the following graph together.  I can tell you that from my experiences in these countries, I’d tend to agree with their findings.  The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Bangkok, after spending over two months in Vietnam after two months in the Philippines, was that there is definitely more money in Thailand.  Singapore is on such a different scale that it should almost not be included in the graph.  I suppose it could be the exception that proves the rule (or trend) in the region.

ASEAN electricity demand per cap vs income [Source: IEA]
ASEAN electricity demand per cap vs income, 2011 [Source: IEA]
I am yet to travel through any rural parts of Thailand, but from what I’ve seen in the city, there does seem to be more prolific use of electricity here.  I will keep an eye out for any rolling brownouts or load-shedding (of which I saw a LOT in the Philippines and less in Vietnam).

It’s interesting to look at these graphs and stats after travelling in the region for a while.  Here’s another one showing how the wealthier countries have pretty much got universal access to electricity, and that those countries that are in the middle region are still fairly reliant on biomass consumption, even if they have access to electricity.


Many of the street food vendors in Vietnam (delicious by the way) were using charcoal under their carts to cook their food.  So you see this in action even in the cities.

I have had a look at the info available on the World Bank’s Database, and have pulled out some graphics on some key energy related stats for the region.   What they show is a general trend for increasing CO2 emissions, increasing energy consumption and a consistent or increasing reliance on energy imports.  Renewables are increasing, slowly, for all countries other than the Philippines, where the noticeable drop in renewables is balanced by a sharp increase in coal consumption).

CO2_kt CO2_perGDP CO2_tonnes_per_cap Elec_coal elec_kwh Elec_renewables Energy_imports Energy_use

A snapshot of Malaysia’s energy picture

KL by night

Malaysia’s Suruhanjaya Tenaga (Energy Commission) releases an annual handbook containing energy statistics.  The latest version, released in 2014, contains data on energy consumption up to 2012.  This can be found here.  This post aims to distill some of the key energy stats from this handbook.

As can be seen below, most of Malaysia’s energy needs are met through fossil fuels.  Malaysia has vast natural gas reserves, and this has resulted in natural gas reliance increasing from 39% to 46% of primary energy supply since 1992, and from 8% to 22% of final energy consumption in the same period.  Crude oil primary supply has decreased, from 52% to 32% over this period, while coal has increased from 6% to 19%.  Hydro has stayed fairly constant at 3%.  However, overall primary energy supply (and final energy consumption) has nearly tripled in this same period, meaning that, while some fuel sources may have decreased proportionally, the supply of all fuels has increased individually.


Most energy is consumed by industry and transportation.  Over 44% of the primary energy supply is consumed in the in energy transformation, largely through refining and transformation of natural gas to LNG and from crude oil into petroleum products, and in the generation of electricity.



In terms of electricity production, again, natural gas and coal make up the majority of the fuel sources, from an installed capacity and electricity generation point of view.


Nearly 60% of all electricity is generated by IPP’s.  30% comes from the three utilities, TNB, SEB and SESB.  The rest is from co-generation, self generation or from the Small Renewable Energy Power (SREP) programme or from Feed in Tariffs (see post on this here).




There seem to be plans underway to export electricity to Indonesia and a 230MW transmission line is under construction to enable this.  Last reports on this that I can find date back to 2013, and the Sarawak Energy utility only has reports from 2010.  I can’t find any information on Malaysia exporting electricity, and assume that this is not yet taking place.  They are, however, a large exporter of natural gas and natural gas refined products.

Malaysia renewable energy feed in tariffs

Malaysia has a renewable energy feed in tariff, available to solar PV, biogas, biomass, small hydro and geothermal projects.  The rates are fairly good, particularly for PV, and they’ve also outlined various bonus amounts that apply if the generator meets certain criteria.  They’re clearly trying to promote the use of certain fuels (landfill gas and solid waste) and they’re incentivising local content.

Oversight of the tariffs is managed by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA) and there’s a lot of information there as to what progress has been made in renewables.

The table below provides an outline of the current feed in tariffs and bonus tariffs available to renewable energy projects.

FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Applicable capacity range
0.9166 0.21 up to and including 4kW
0.8942 0.20 above 4kW and up to and including 24kW
0.7222 0.16 above 24kW and up to and including 72kW
0.6977 0.16 above 72kW and up to and including 1MW
0.5472 0.12 above 1MW and up to and including 10MW
0.4896 0.11 above 10MW and up to and including 30MW
Bonus FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Bonus FiT minimum criteria
0.1722 0.04 use as installation in buildings or building structures
0.1656 0.03 use as building materials
0.05 0.01 use of locally manufactured or assembled solar PV modules
0.05 0.01 use of locally manufactured or assembled solar inverters
FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Applicable capacity range
0.3184 0.07 up to and including 4MW
0.2985 0.06 above 4MW and up to and including 10MW
0.2786 0.06 above 10MW and up to and including 30MW
Bonus FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Bonus FiT minimum criteria
0.0199 0.00 use of gas engine technology with electrical efficiency of above 40%
0.05 0.01 use of locally manufactured or assembled gas engine technology
0.0786 0.01 use of landfill, sewage gas or agricultural waste including animal waste as fuel source
FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Applicable capacity range
0.3085 0.07 up to and including 10MW
0.2886 0.06 above 10MW and up to and including 20MW
0.2687 0.06 above 20MW and up to and including 30MW
Bonus FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Bonus FiT minimum criteria
0.0199 0.00 use of gasification technology
0.01 0.00 use of steam-based electricity generating systems with overall efficiency of above 20%
0.05 0.01 use of locally manufactured or assembled boiler or gasifier
0.0982 0.02 use of solid waste as fuel source
FiT Rates
(RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Applicable capacity range
0.24 0.05 up to and including 10MW
0.23 0.05 above 10MW and up to and including 30MW
FiT Rates (RM per kWh) (USD per kWh) Applicable capacity range
0.45 0.10 up to and including 30MW

(MYR:USD rate as at the 26th August 2015)

“Key terminologies in FiT: 
  • Distribution Licensees: Companies holding the licence to distribute electricity (e.g. TNB, SESB, NUR).
  • Feed-in Approval Holder: An individual or company who holds a feed-in approval certificate issued by SEDA Malaysia.  The holder is eligible to sell renewable energy at the FiT rate.
  • FiT rate: Fixed premium rate payable for each unit of renewable energy sold to Distribution Licensees. The FiT rate differs for different renewable resources and installed capacities. Bonus FiT rate applies when the criteria for bonus conditions are met.
  • Indigenous: Renewable resources must be from within Malaysia and are not imported from other countries.
  • Duration: Period of which the renewable electricity could be sold to distribution licensees and paid with the FiT rate. The duration is based on the characteristics of the renewable resources and technologies. The duration is 16 years for biomass and biogas resources, and 21 years for small hydropower and solar photovoltaic technologies.”

For more information, visit

Since 2012, 325.82MW of renewable energy capacity has been installed with nearly 570MW in the pipeline.  To give some context, in 2014 the total installed capacity in Malaysia was 29GW.

Most of the installed capacity is from solar PV installations (206MW).  There’s also over 70MW of biomass capacity installed and they are ramping up their landfill gas installations too.

In 2014, renewables accounted for 485GWh of energy generated, broken down as per the graph below.  Total electricity consumption in 2014 was 116,353GWh, so total installed capacity is contributing less than 0.5% at present.  I’ll be looking a bit more into Malaysia’s energy picture while I’m here.  Watch this space.