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  • Writer's pictureDr Hezri Adnan

Profit with purpose, let's invest in clean energy business

Recently a rich Datuk who owns a luxury watch shop told me an amazing fact. His best record was selling a wristwatch for RM 20 million. I had to ask him if he meant RM 2 million, because that was already a price tag that didn't make much sense to me. But it really was RM 20 million. I quipped that this sum was big enough to invest in a clean energy company and create jobs for Malaysians. Thus began our conversation about developing sustainable energy businesses.

He said he had heard a lot about using energy wisely and not wasting it. He understood advertisements that say it's important to be energy efficient because it helps protect our planet. But he doesn't know what business he could do in this area.

I agreed with him that more and more consumers understand the importance of using the electricity that powers our lights, appliances and gadgets "smartly". We save energy when we turn off lights or unplug devices when we aren't using them, and this lowers our electricity bills. We can also use appliances and light bulbs that use less electricity. Access to technology is also good. Buying LED light bulbs from supermarkets or your favourite DIY shop is much easier now. Compared to traditional light bulbs, LED helps save energy because they use less electricity and last longer. Educated Malaysians now know that we reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions when we use energy efficiently. It also conserves natural resources such as coal, oil and gas that are used to produce energy.

But being the entrepreneur that he is, he asked me what else he could invest in the energy business. Selling LED light bulbs isn't particularly attractive to him. I told him about the enormous size of the sustainable energy business. The global energy crisis triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict has dramatically increased concerns about energy security and led to new business opportunities in retail and manufacturing. There is money to be made in energy efficiency solutions, renewable energy project development, EV infrastructure and clean energy software platforms. And there are more opportunities, as I've outlined below.

To show how businesses can make a difference, I talked to him about how Towkays like him can help the government with energy efficiency. There are many companies that focus on energy efficiency and offer different things to help save energy in buildings, factories and transport. For example, some companies can look at how much energy is being used and suggest ways to use less, such as better lighting or insulation. Other companies are experts in upgrading things like air conditioning or household appliances (HVAC) to ones that use less energy. There are even smart gadgets that can control lights and temperature to save energy. Some companies make software that helps businesses keep track of their energy use and find ways to use less, which can save a lot of money over time. As more and more people use electric cars, there are also opportunities for companies to build charging stations.

I also showed him the diagram below from one of my presentations. At this point, the Datuk seemed more confident that energy efficiency isn't only good for the environment, but also has great business potential and can help organisations and individuals save money while protecting our planet.

Yes, as citizens, we expect staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Economy to develop comprehensive energy efficiency policies, regulations and incentives to unlock the untapped potential for energy efficiency improvements. And we expect the Ministers paid by the public coffer to lead. But we also expect CEOs and business leaders to start thinking about what they can do with the capital they have to create new businesses that deliver multiple benefits beyond energy savings, such as increased productivity, comfort and well-being, and job creation.

After all is said and done, I can't stop thinking about the RM20 million watch. Who was the guy who bought it? If only I could convince him to invest his money in a sustainable energy company!



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