The Future of Energy

Tokyo train network can be confusing

After zig-zagging on the Tokyo train lines, I finally arrived at the Tokyo Big Sight, the venue where the Fuel Cell Expo and other renewable energy events took place.  Since there were various kind of trains – subway, monorail, LRT, intercity etc with good connectivity at various stations, the search for the correct train can be confusing, especially when the english signage was no where to be seen. After a day, I learnt the trick. Focus on the platform number and some common stations. After 2 days, it was no longer an issue despite the fact that most of the signages were in Japanese characters.

Tokyo Public transport

Yesterday, I spent a day visiting the exhibitions and listening to three interesting lectures on Japan Energy Policy, Development of fuel cell vehicle and the development of fuel cell power supply for domestic use. I admired the seriousness of the Japanese government in addressing the needs of the country.

Today, I spent another day at the expo and attended keynote sessions on smart grid and energy systems. Similar to yesterday, the lectures were in Japanese and we were supplied with a gadget that provide simultaneous English translation. Again, I was impressed by the seriousness of the Japanese government. But today one of the speaker revealed that there was some initiatives by NEDO with the Malaysian govenment on renewable energy plan. I hope some of my colleagues from other universities were involved, because I didn’t even heard about it. Perhaps the government should always include we the academicians on all such projects to facilitate knowledge development and sustainability.

Keynote Session – the hall was full with many standing

Renewable Energy

Oil & gas is depleting, as everybody is claiming, and yesterday, the speaker was saying something to the effect, “if oil and gas is so precious, why do we burn them? Why not making better use of them such as producing expensive products, chemicals that are needed for our livelihood?”. Why don’t we burn something less valuable and use it as energy? Why don’t we use other source of energy apart from oil and gas?

Biomass Energy Pathways

Even before the incident in Fukuchima on March 11,2010, Japan has seriously worked on renewable energy. Billions of yens have been spent on the development of hydrogen energy. Numerous well-equipped facilities have been installed for researchers to prove their ideas and to make efficient renewable energy utilization a reality. From a hydrogen village (150 houses equipped with fuel cell power supply), to the development of home (ENE Farm) and mini-grid renewable energy supply system, many success stories were reported, thanks to appropriate policies and fundings provided.  Be it hydrogen, wind, solar or biomass, with serious and strong support from the government, rapid development are currently progressing in Japan.

Thinking in retrospect, I could only shake my head. What a significant difference! Back home, given a meagre RM 40K, the researchers were bombarded with all the stringent beaurocracies and endless reporting. If my considerations were  only for short term gains, I would have never do any research works in Malaysia. But then,  I felt guilty not to contribute as God the Almighty has bestowed me with the ability to do so.  May Allah accept all our efforts.

Honda Fuel Cell Vehicle

Fuel Cell Vehicle

Last week I delivered a short presentation at the renewable energy task force meeting chaired by the Honorable Deputy Minister of MOSTI. In the presentation, there was a slide (prepared by my colleague) on mass production of cars by 2015. It received some scepticism from one of the audience and I conquered by saying that the data and prediction are never constant for this kind of new technologies. Perhaps 2025 would be more realistic.  This is due to the unavailability of refuelling infrastructure or the hydrogen stations. But the hydrogen suppliers wouldn’t want to invest on the stations unless there’s enough FCV’s on the road. So, it is a chicken & egg problem.

Recently,  a landmark decision was made in Japan. Toyota, Nissan and Honda along with 10 energy companies made a joint announcement that FCV will be introduced to the market in 2015 and about 100 hydrogen stations will be built in 4 metropolitan areas prior to the introduction. This is indeed an important decision. Thanks to the Japanese for their futuristic thinking. I always believe the first wave is the best.

Which one will be the leader, we’ll have to find out, but Toyota FCHV (90kW), Honda FCX Clarity (100 kW), Nissan X-Trail FCV (100kW), GM Equinox (94 kW), Daimler FCV (90kW), Hyundai Tucson (100kW) and many others from mercedes, VW, BMW and few other model from other leading car makers are ready to roll, two years down the line.

To my fellow researchers, we are set to go. Lets get things better.

Thinking about the future…

About Dr. AA

I am an educator, professional trainer, safety consultant, researcher, social worker, outdoor enthusiast, and a thinker.
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