Electric-powered buses better for Kuching, MP tells Sarawak CM

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen said Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg should consider introducing electric-powered buses instead of hydrogen fuel cell buses on the streets of Kuching. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen said Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg should consider introducing electric-powered buses instead of hydrogen fuel cell buses on the streets of Kuching. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUCHING, Sept 11 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg should consider introducing electric-powered buses instead of hydrogen fuel cell buses on the streets of Kuching City, Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii said today.

He said buses run by electricity will be much cheaper when compared to buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

“We already have readily available renewable and sustainable energy through all the mega dams in the state that can be pumped directly into a cheaper and simpler alternative, which is the common electric bus.

“Just because we have the money or a big reserve, doesn’t mean we can just simply spend it on items that will not be cost effective for the people,” he said.

The chief minister had claimed yesterday that public transportation system using hydrogen fuel cell buses would be cheaper than buses using fossil fuels since hydrogen was extracted from water which was abundant in Sarawak.

Abang Johari had said  that state-owned power supplier Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) was now constructing hydrogen production plant and fuelling stations and were expected to be ready when the three units of hydrogen fuel cells buses from China arrived here in March next year.

Yii questioned the direction the chief minister is taking with the introduction of these hydrogen buses, especially when power is already largely renewable in Sarawak.

He said an electric bus can easily charge using the grid anywhere anytime, without investing in a non-existent hydrogen infrastructure and distribution network.

He said battery technology is developing much faster than electrolysis as supercapacitors are available that charges instantly, has lower maintenance cost and a superb lifespan that is already in advance trial even in China.

“Electrolysis on the other hand requires a huge scientific breakthrough to be economically and scientifically viable,” he said referring to the process in the production of hydrogen fuel cells.

On top of the production process or electrolysis, he said the cost of building fuelling stations itself will also be costly while storing and distributing hydrogen safely requires high speciality and will incur high cost.

“Matter of fact is, the main feedstock for hydrogen in China also doesn’t come from water alone, consisting only 4 per cent while most of it are produced from cracking coal (18 per cent), petroleum (30 per cent) and natural gas (48 per cent),” he said.

He asked if the state government is able to guarantee that hydrogen for these buses will come 100 per cent from water.

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