The Mahathir Science Award Foundation (MSAF) and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) jointly organised a webinar themed “Engineering for Sustainability: Water and Energy in the Tropics” on 22 September 2020.
Tropical regions are rich in natural resources that can benefit the people who live there. The existence of rivers and rain-fed arable land in tropical areas provide the conditions for most renewable energy sectors to flourish.
The webinar featured ASM Fellows of the Engineering Discipline and explored how energy and water in the Tropics can be sustainably provided and managed.
Two award-winning energy experts moderated the webinar, namely Professor Ir Dr Nor Aishah Saidina Amin FASc of UTM and Professor Dr Chong Kok Keong FASc of UTAR.
The webinar commenced with a talk on energy in the Tropics by the CEO of the Malaysian Green Technology & Climate Change Centre (MGTC), Mr Shamsul Bahar Mohd Nor and the Director of UKM’s Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), Professor Dato’ Dr Kamaruzzaman Sopian FASc. Mr Shamsul highlighted the potential of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the rise of the hydrogen economy. Meanwhile, Professor Dato’ Kamaruzzaman spoke on the roadmap to a carbon-free Malaysia by 2050 and innovations in renewable energy systems.
The next talk was given by Dato’ Ir Lim Chow Hock FASc. He spoke about methods of water management. He pointed out that despite Malaysia being a country rich in rainfall and water sources, some of the population still experience water stress. He added that the solution to water crises is better water governance that can be strengthened by adequate funding and enforcement.
The session on water management was followed by a talk on Engineering Innovations for Sustainability, delivered by the Founding Director for the Centre of Excellence for Green Technologies, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Professor Dominic Foo FASc. Professor Foo talked about different ways to optimise water and energy usage in the Tropics. Among the recommendations included were systems to determine optimal methods to recycle water.
The webinar was concluded by a panel discussion featuring speakers from the day as well as guest discussant Ir Lalchand Gulabrai FASc. During the panel session, the ASM Fellows exchanged views on the outlook for renewables in Malaysia. There were many interesting points during the discussion, including the importance of enforcement in preventing water pollution and crises, national policies that could incentivise academic-industry collaboration for CO2 reduction, the suitability of green energy in tropical regions, and a cost-benefit analysis of the implementation of large-scale renewables. Overall, the webinar was a great forum among academics discussing real-world engineering issues.