GE keeps close watch on Malaysia’s new energy policy

The debate on RE is ongoing not only in Malaysia, but in other parts of the world too

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

US TITAN General Electric Co (GE) is keeping a watchful eye on any new development regarding Malaysia’s energy policy and adaptation to changes following the shift of power after the recent general election.

As it is, the newly appointed Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin has been vocal on renewable energy (RE) and her ministry is also reviewing power agreements that were sealed during the tenure of the previous government.

Among others, Yeo is pushing to increase the contribution of REs (excluding hydro) from the current 2% to 20% in the medium term.

She also axed four independent power producer (IPP) deals that were directly negotiated before, and as many as four more contracts are under scrutiny.

Dr Sacha Parneix

“We are fuel agnostics. We will adapt and fit to what is best for the country and what the policy will guide,” GE Steam Power commercial GM Dr Sacha Parneix (picture) said during a site visit to the Sultan Azlan Shah Power Station in Manjung, Perak, on Wednesday.

Parneix, who covers businesses in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said any major change in power policy would have a very minimal impact to GE as a technology provider since the company’s portfolio ranges from coal, gas, hydro, solar and nuclear, among others, that ultimately shall be determined by the government to have the right fuel mix.

Yeo did not disclose the four IPP deals that were scrapped recently, but, GE believes none of the parties involved are its clients and that the deals do not have any cost implication to the government.

The debate on RE is ongoing not only in Malaysia, but in other parts of the world too.

Parneix said the RE move will create new challenges for utilities and an instability at the grid management level due to power intermittency.

While some levels of risks emerge, the technology also provides new opportunities for GE to step in with other solutions to compensate for the intermittent power supply by RE.

He said any decision on power is not solely driven by technology as other factors such as geopolitical, economic and environmental are also part of the equation.

He added that GE has also engaged with key stakeholders in the country, including the regulator, national power utility and several IPPs to provide information on the best available technology.

Malaysia’s total capacity is about 37GW and is expected to grow to 53GW over the next 10 years.

At present, coal and natural gas account for roughly 50:50 ratio to the national power generation mix, while 1% to 2% is generated by hydro and solar.

In a recent interview with The Malaysian Reserve, GE Power Services president and CEO Scott Strazik said work is in progress to woo the region to its technology, particularly the new H-class gas turbine.

GE has 22 HA (air-cooled H-class gas turbine) orders in the region that are set to be commissioned up until the early 2020s.

Strazik said at least five orders are in Malaysia that produce more gigawatt at higher efficiency to replace 24 retiring units in the country.

GE is the lead in the engineering, procurement and construction of the Manjung 4 power plant, part of the “five siblings” in the Manjung facility.

Operated by Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary, TNB Janamanjung Sdn Bhd, the RM6.5 billion plant is the first ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in South-East Asia, with a capacity of 1,010MW.