Time for minimum energy performance standards
Energy efficiency is where we use lesser energy to carry out similar or more work without jeopardising the comfort or actual desired output.
Based on 2009 Energy Commission report, a total of 92753 GWh (GigaWatthour) of electricity was sold in Malaysia.
The domestic sector accounts almost 20 percent of the overall consumption and emits 11.7 million tonnes of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).
Therefore, a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency in domestic sector will be able to reduce more than 2.34 million tonnes of CO2 annually from 2025 onwards if non-energy efficient products are phased-out completely from the market by 2020.
In addition to that, ever increasing demand for energy resources only makes these resources more expensive and continues to increase electricity tariff and energy prices.
The Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) has conducted stakeholder engagement with industry, government agencies and members of public to get more understanding of the problems related to policy, legal framework, standard and labelling as well as feedback to solutions proposed by Awer to increase energy efficiency in domestic sector.
In addition to that, we have also reviewed energy efficiency implementation in selected Asia Pacific and Asean countries to further compare Malaysia's performance.
Vital need for Meps
Based on the detailed reports and case studies reviewed by Awer, we conclude that a combination of mandatory and voluntary labelling coupled with Minimum Energy Performance Standard (Meps) is vital to "kick out" inefficient products from the market successfully.
Meps is a minimum performance level set for many types of energy consuming products. This eliminates inefficient energy consuming products from entering a market by mandatory requirements.
Only 8 out of 17 countries we reviewed have implemented Meps. South Korea and China are leading economies in Meps implementation.
Malaysia still does not have Meps in place.
After series of findings released to media by Awer, recently the Energy Commission has come forward and announced that it will be implementing Meps soon for existing equipments that has five star energy efficiency labelling.
This is a move that we welcome. However, Meps should also be extended to more other high energy consuming equipments.
This is the primary function of Meps implementation. In addition to that, there should also be a review in five star energy efficiency labelling policy.
Mandatory labelling recommended
Products that have voluntary energy efficiency star rating labelling implemented now must be upgraded to a mandatory labelling with revised energy efficiency rating requirements and Meps.
Introduction of an energy efficiency star rating labelling scheme for a new product must begin with voluntary labelling for a 12 months period.
After that, it can be upgraded to mandatory labelling. This is how many energy efficiency rating requirements are implemented internationally.
Mandatory labelling is usually imposed for equipment with high energy consumption or likely to be consumed in large quantities or with long hours of usage duration.
Korea is a leading country in mandatory labelling implementation to assist end users to choose the right products. Indirectly, this allows product technology and human capital development.
Information to public
Energy Commission must also compile and update an online database for the products that have obtained energy efficiency star ratings and Meps for all stakeholders to do a cross reference.
The online database must also keep the details of products that has been disqualified, recalled or banned due to any technical or regulatory reasons.
This would assist consumers to identify misleading or fake products. This online database system will be an added advantage for the Energy Commission to carry out enforcement as well.
Public would also be able to launch complaints directly to the commission if there are any irregularities detected.
In conclusion, labelling revamp for energy consuming products is vital. As a responsible regulator, Energy Commission is duty bound to rectify all the labelling problems.
Based on global greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement cost curve, energy efficiency falls under no investment or less investment sector. Many energy audits and studies have given similar trends.
This means investment into energy efficiency has an immediate return and will not be wasteful. For businesses, the risk of investing into energy efficiency is relatively low.
Convincing the receiving ends (members of public and business) on the cost saving and environmental benefits of energy efficiency needs a whole new advanced method.
Awer has begun the process in Malaysia via 'Click d' Thief', an online Low CO2 Tool to assist residential, commercial, industrial and other sectors to conduct simple energy audit.
This energy audit is focused on electricity consumption to outline cost and equivalent carbon footprint. It is available for free at www.click.org.my.
Energy resources are getting scarce, we have nowhere to run! Start clicking to low carbon lifestyle.
Piarapakaran S is president of the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer).