Tenaga Suria Brunei

I read with interest the Tenaga Suria Brunei Project which is well on its way with the installation of the solar panels at the Seria Power Station yesterday.

The Tenaga Suria Brunei (Solar energy) project is set to generate some 1.344 MWh of electricity per year and touted to be using the largest photovoltaic system of its kind in Southeast Asia.

– The Brunei Times

I wonder how much 1.344MWh is! It sounds like a lot! Is that a lot? 😀 Can it run one whole district efficiently? If just one district can run 100% using solar energy, imagine the kind of difference it would make to the Brunei’s allocation of funds. The article also mentioned:

Brunei is set to save about 340,400 litres of crude oil and reduce about 940 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually once the solar power project starts generating electricity, according to a previous news report.

When I read this article, I kid you not: my initial response was, what’s this thing we’re wasting money on now. Then I left it alone and had some time to think it over (apparently I don’t have anything else to worry about).

Now I just have soooo many questions!

1. Do we need an alternative form of energy?

YES WE DO. If there is anything that the history of Brunei taught us, it is never healthy to be to reliant on only one entity. This includes sources of energy. We need a variety and we need it cheap. Despite us having one of the highest GDP in the region, a lot of us have stupid priorities and don’t pay bills properly. It burdens the Government.

2. Why is the Mitsubishi Corporation so keen on sponsoring/funding this project?

Mitsubishi Corporation sponsored the building of a big lecture hall in our University and so I know that the Japanese Government and the Japanese have been getting some really great press for being pretty generous with their money and technical know hows, and though it’s awesome that they’re funding this project, I can’t help but wonder, what’s in it for them?

  • Big discount on our LNG (which we export to Japan)? Possible right?
  • Or I guess if we use less LNG, that means more for them? And more supply to them for the next few decades? But then again, wouldn’t it be cheaper if THEY use solar power instead of us? Hehe. FAIL.
  • Perhaps a deal to lessen taxes for Japanese products entering Brunei? But then again, could this be a sound investment since there’s only a less than half a million potential customers? I think it would be better to invest in Malaysia if this is an economic investment.

3. What benefits do we get out of this?

This include, but not limited to:

  • Free equipment and technology know-how
  • Significant reduction in carbon emissions
  • Conserve the use of precious and limited non-renewable resource
  • Low cost of energy production because the sun is free 🙂
  • DIVERSIFICATION!!!!!!
  • Green jobs!!!!!
  • Doing our bit to help mankind.

4. Is this an environmental move or a financial move?

The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to believe that this project is geared towards finance rather than environment.  Sure there are the obvious clean and sustainable energy but think about how much financial burden will be lifted off the Government if, like I said earlier, even just one single district is 100% dependent on solar energy and NOT on either oil or gas. Or if not districts, imagine if all the government offices in Brunei runs on solar energy. That is millions of dollars worth of electricity funds that could be used to build a lot of infrastructure for health or education, provided we plan everything thoroughly and properly.

5. Do we have will to see this through?

We need this. Mudahan saja Allah mendangani.

Solar energy is an exciting frontier and omigosh I really hope this happens for us. Here are some photos of examples of solar energy being used I found on the net. Ideas for everyone! 😀

Photo by Martnpro.

In addition to its huge oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is ideally located to utilize solar energy. The country has a significant solar energy research program with cooperative activities with the U.S., Germany and France and several experimental “solar energy villages”. I took this photo at a solar energy research center near Rhiyad.”

Photo by Let Ideas Complete.

The solar power station in Boulder, Colorado. This station is intended to power the water treatment plant nearby.

Photo by Covanpatten

Solar energy on Chincoteague. One of the many on the island.

Uploaded by Paspog

There are two rows of thermal solar panels on the roof of the public swimming-pool in Montreuil, right next to Paris (France). They provide heat for the pool and for the hot-water used in the showers.

Photo by Ensie & Matthias

We saw solar panels a few times in Iran. The most dramatic was a new park in Tehran, where the panels were clearly included just to show off the alternative energy source, rather than because of a lack of access to a power grid. This photo, however, is alongside the road to Chalus.

Photo by Maayan Katz

“The Tech Museum Awards: Technology Benefiting Humanity”

2007 Environment Award Laureate
Solar Sailor

Solar Sailor uses a combination of wind and solar energy. The sail harnesses sea winds to move the boat, while also serving as a solar panel to feed batteries in a hybrid diesel engine.

Very interesting!!! 😀

By the way, in my search for photos of solar panels, I found this amazing project whereby this group of people brought electricity to poverty stricken Ethiopia by harnessing solar power (which is one thing Ethiopia had a lot of). They build these solar villages, consisting of almost 2000 solar system houses and had each house operating electricity for less than BN$1 per month!!!!!! It’s realllllly awesome!!! Read the story here.

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6 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting post. To answer your question about how much 1.344 MWh is, I’ll try to illustrate this as simple as possible.

    A normal household light bulb is about 60W. This means if you leave the bulb on for one hour, it will use 60 Wh (Watt hour) of energy. (1 MWh = 1,000,000 Wh).
    Now, imagine if each person in Brunei switched on one light bulb for an hour. I googled Brunei’s population and most figures say it’s between 375,000 to 400,000 so let’s assume that it’s about 375,000.
    375,000 x 60 = 22,500,000 Wh (22.5 MWh).

    So if each person left one light bulb on for AN HOUR, it will use 22.5 MWh of energy. Way more than 1.344 MWh which is the amount of energy that will be produced per YEAR by the solar power plant.

    If you are not able to follow that then let me just say that Brunei’s electrical energy (only electrical) consumption in 2005 was 2,625,000 MWh/year. Figure from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption
    So to be honest, I don’t think 1.344 MWh/year is a lot.

    I am a Bruneian, and I am quite pleased that Brunei is taking this step but I think the saying ‘every little helps’ doesn’t apply here. Sooner or later, our oil reserve is going to run out so we really need to find an alternative source.

    By the way, I would recommend reading Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air by David MacKay as you seem really interested about the energy crisis and the environment. Don’t worry, it’s not a Science textbook. It’s written so that the general public can easily understand, even A-level students like me. And the great thing is, you can download the pdf file of the book for free at http://www.withouthotair.com!

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    1. Hi Bokhari, thank you for taking the time to comment but sorry your post was “pending” for a very long time! I don’t usually filter comments but yours had many links so WP thought it was spam. I have been Internet-less the past few days and had no means to approve it.

      Anyway, yes thank you for explaining! I guess 1.344MWh/year is not a lot, but I guess they wanna test out how it goes first before going all out and really make sure it’s a sound decision. It is a complicated process after all, when you’ve been dependent on one source of energy for so long and now moving towards alternative means. All our infrastructure, for instance, is hooked on our oil and gas. Finding an alternative source is one thing, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of planning, and I think this at least is going in the right direction. 🙂

      Will download the book, as per your suggestion!

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  2. After reading what you have posted I myself wonder is it an environment move or financial move. It could be both as Brunei is currently constructing a transmission line for the transfer of electricity from east malaysia.”Brunei is expected to receive 400 megawatts of electricity from Sarawak next year, following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which the two countries signed last May 2009. The electricity will be delivered in two stages. Brunei will initially receive 200MW from Bakun Hydroelectric Dam after its commissioning next year and followed by another 200MW in the second delivery from Limbang Hydroelectric Dam.”extracted from Brunei Times..HMMM….

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