In 2022, the electricity consumption in Malaysia heavily tilted towards fossil energy, accounting for just over 80% of the total. This includes coal, contributing a substantial 42%, and gas, making up slightly below 40%. Comparatively, low-carbon energy sources had a smaller share at just below 20%. Of this, the largest contributor was hydropower at 17%, while solar and biofuels rounded up the rest with slight over 1% and under 1% respectively. It is also noteworthy that Malaysia is a notable net exporter of electricity.
Some successful countries offer interesting opportunities for Malaysia to learn from in its pursuit to increase low-carbon electricity generation. Looking towards Europe, several countries including France, Ukraine and Slovakia have been successful in substantially utilising nuclear energy, generating well over 50% of their electricity from it. Meanwhile, countries such as Denmark and Ireland have managed to harness more than a third of their electricity from wind energy. Moreover, countries with similar tropical and sunny climates like Chile and Yemen have successfully harvested 17% of their electricity from solar power. Incorporating these learnings, Malaysia could explore options towards significantly expanding nuclear energy capacity, harnessing its wind energy potential and optimising solar energy generation.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Malaysia has been predominantly shaped by hydropower. In the 1980s, hydropower saw gradual growth with annual increases varying between 0.8 and 1.7 TWh. This growth, however, faced a setback in the 1990s with fluctuating outputs. Most notably, a sharp drop in generation was experienced at the turn of the century. The following decade witnessed a slow but steady revival; and by 2016, hydropower in Malaysia had its most substantial annual increase of 6.1 TWh, continuing up to 6.8 TWh the following year. The recent years, specifically 2020 and 2021, have shown modest increases, signalling a promising sustenance and growth of low-carbon electricity generation in the country.