THERE is a noticeable link between
the provision of power and the incidence of poverty.
When electricity illuminates homes, schools and
clinics, pumps water and powers machines, it lights
up lives, brightens prospects and radiates hope
for the future by kindling learning, opening up
communications, unlocking income-generating activities
and driving up living standards. This is why access
to electricity has been recognised as a key tool
against poverty and why investments in rural electrification
has been a major feature of poverty eradication
However, there are challenges in providing
power to isolated rural communities where the majority
of the country’s hard-core poor population live.
The major constraint in hooking them up to the electricity
grid has been the remoteness of the locations and
the scattered nature of the settlement patterns.
This is why the idea of generating power through
a hybrid solar power plant under the Mega Rural
Quantum Leap Development Plan on Pulau Banggi in
Sabah is a step in the right direction towards bringing
electricity to poor rural households.
is a good example of the part that solar energy
can play in sustainable development in this country.
As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
rightly said, harnessing the abundance of sun, wind
and water that we have to generate electricity will
open up the rural areas to development and help
to alleviate poverty.
Given their isolation, solar
technology, wind turbines and other renewable energy
schemes are often the only realistic options since
the prospects of grid-supplied electricity seem
In addition, as the prime minister pointed
out, these alternative sources are more cost-effective
than conventional fossil-fired plants.
not only do they obviate the need to invest in capital-intensive
infrastructure and meet economic and social needs,
such renewable energy sources also meet the criteria
for sustainable development.
The ability to generate
emission-free power while improving rural lives
makes them a good power source. In this context,
it follows that we should be doing more in incorporating
environmentally-friendly renewable energy in meeting
all our power needs, and not just those in the remote
As it is, despite the fact that opportunities
exist for considerably increased use of clean energy
such as solar, wind and biomass, their contributions
to our energy supply is still quite negligible.
Given that the dangers of global warming and climate
change are real, we should be making more intelligent
use of solar, wind and water power.