Article and photos by Prof Ir Dr Haslenda Hashim, the 2018/19 ASEAN Science and Technology Fellow placed at the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia.
Bio-energy has been hailed as one of the most promising sources of renewable energy due to its availability and environmental benefits. The levelised cost of bio-energy in certain parts of the world has outperformed the fossil fuel energy—this makes the widespread adoption of bio-energy as the future energy one step closer to reality. The optimal bio-energy pathways are complex in nature, involving the whole supply chain which includes resource location and allocation, technology selection and design, site consideration and transmission network.
Therefore, a user-friendly tool called Renewable Energy Planning System (REPS) is developed to provide a systematic analytical approach to perform a comprehensive assessment of bioenergy value chain that finds a bio-energy dispatch solution of over a 20-year planning horizon. This tool may assist energy decision-makers to assess, analyse, and optimise the bio-energy generation, storage capacity, and bio-energy distribution network to meet our national renewable energy target. Analyses can be performed at local, regional and national scales, all of which will consider the spatial nature of the problem since transporting the biomass to the bio-energy processing hub and the end-users will have an impact on costs and the environment.
Short-term and long-term time frames will also be considered, such as storage of biomass and bio-energy as well as the effects of climate change and technology investments. It is envisaged that this toolkit will benefit policy-makers to drive national strategies for integrating renewable energy into end-use applications towards achieving SDG7, combating climate change, and reaching the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).