Bertam: A smart energy city with tourism potential
KEPALA BATAS - Situated between Butterworth and Sungai Petani, about 30 kilometres from George Town, Bertam under the Kepala Batas parliamentary constituency is a ‘mature’ town with well-developed infrastructure that has not harmed the natural ecosystem.
The area, previously a palm oil and rubber plantation, is now equipped with various facilities, including Kepala Batas Hospital; Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department’s Northern Region Air Base; Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Ulul Albab and Universiti Sains Malaysia Medical Centre, Bertam (PPUSMB).
The city of Bertam received special attention from the Penang government when it was selected to be transformed into a smart energy city, with the help of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) through the Solar Energy Research Institute (Seri) and UKM Pakarunding in collaboration with Jinko Solar Technology Sdn Bhd.
UKM Seri project leader and principal research fellow Professor Dr Lim Chin Haw told Bernama that the smart energy city would combine green technology and advanced systems, especially Internet of Things (IoT) technology, to optimise energy use and reduce environmental impact, thus increasing overall energy efficiency.
The lecturer in Passive and Low Energy Architecture and Building Performance Simulation said as a result, Bertam residents can enjoy better living conditions with increased economic opportunities that contribute to a more sustainable and low-carbon urban community.
"Residents can enjoy cost savings as smart cities are designed to optimise energy usage. This can result in lower utility bills for residents and also create job opportunities in the renewable energy sector and related industries.
"This smart city may also feature a robust energy system and a microgrid that can provide power supply even during grid disruptions or natural disasters that increase the city’s preparedness and resilience during a crisis,” he said.
He said the city that uses the latest Digital Twin technology at Abdullah Fahim Mosque, Kepala Batas Industrial Training Institute, Seberang Perai Utara Public Works Department Office and Kepala Batas Hospital was expected to be completed by the end of this year.
In addition to the vast community and Islamic development, Bertam has also become a tourist attraction since the opening of the Bertam Resort and Water Park (BRWP) in December last year.
The BRWP has a distinctive Moroccan theme and is situated about 20 kilometres away from Penang International Airport.
Its managing director Datuk Mohamed Iqbal S Habeeb Noohu said BRWP was proud to offer numerous job opportunities, especially in the hospitality industry, as no one anticipated the development of a resort with international standard facilities in Bertam.
"Our efforts to purchase resort essentials from local businesses as much as possible have contributed to the growth of the local economy. Additionally, our guests often explore nearby restaurants, shops and other popular attractions,” he said.
In line with the government’s efforts to help the people, he said the five-star water theme park was offering a 70 per cent discount on ticket prices to enable visitors to enjoy 13 types of attractions available.
Meanwhile, tensions are running high when discussing politics in Bertam, particularly with the upcoming Penang State Election this Saturday.
The state seat will witness a straight fight between Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican and former Bertam assemblyman Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq of Perikatan Nasional (PN).
UKM political science senior lecturer Dr Jamaie Hamil said Barisan Nasional (BN) has a big chance to recapture the seat, located in one of its strongholds since 1974.
"To realise this, the votes of Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters must shift to BN and there should not be any more protest votes against BN. Reezal Merican is also former Kepala Batas MP, so he probably has a strong influence,” he said.
Based on the 14th General Election (GE14) results, the political analyst said the advantage is still with the Unity Government candidate because those who voted for Khaliq Mehtab were PH supporters who will continue supporting the coalition, while BN still has its supporters who will loyally vote for its candidate.
In GE14, Khaliq Mehtab won the seat with a majority of 219 votes on a PH ticket. However, on Feb 24, 2020, he withdrew his support for the PH state government in favour of Bersatu under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership. - BERNAMA