KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will be home to Malaysia’s first geothermal power plant, to be developed by Tawau Green Technology Sdn Bhd (TGE) at a proposed site at Apas Kiri, Tawau, soon.
Set to export 30 Megawatt (MW) to the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) grid under the Feed-In-Tariff (FiT) scheme, the geothermal energy technology is considered as both very green with extremely low carbon footprints and has very high availability and reliability rate as clearly demonstrated in other operating plants worldwide.
Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, accompanied by Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai, announced this during a press conference here, yesterday following a site inspection by the minister and some KeTTHA officers to the site, recently.
After an extensive research, followed by geology, geophysics and geochemistry analysis and modelling by GeothermEx Inc, USA and Jacobs New Zealand, they indicated the existence of an active geothermal system centred around the flanks of Mt Maria at Apas Kiri.
“We are pleased to learn that the drilling had reached a depth of 1,449 metres and even at such shallow depth, the temperature recorded had already exceeded 200 degrees Celsius. This result confirmed an earlier magnetotelluric (MT) study on the technical potential of geothermal at Apas Kiri that was conducted earlier both by TGE geologist as well as by the Mineral and Geoscience Department Malaysia,” said Ongkili at a press conference, here.
In 2015, geothermal made history in the country when SEDA gazetted the resource as the fifth renewable energy under the Feed-in Tariff portfolio. TGE secured feed-in approval the same year.
As of today, two geothermal well pads are completed and the third well pad is under construction. The geothermal power plant is scheduled to achieve commercial operation by June 2018. If this scheduled operation is achieved, Malaysia will rank 16th in the world in geothermal energy generation.
“The continuous growth of renewable energy in Sabah has the potential to enhance electricity supply and at the same time, promote our commitment as a country towards achieving our pledge in carbon emission reduction of 45 per cent by 2030 that was made in COP21,” Ongkili said.
He further said geothermal had an important role to play in the renewable energy mix, adding: “Geothermal has the potential to contribute to the energy balancing market and this will be important when variable renewable energy (such as solar and wind) increases in the energy mix.”
As of June this year, SEDA has approved a total of 9,570 FiT applications with a total capacity of 1,308.55 MW. In the same period, 6,201 FiT applications have achieved commercial operation with a total capacity of 364.02 MW.
By the end of 2020, the 11th Malaysia Plan estimates that renewable energy installed capacity to reach 2,080 MW or 7.8 per cent of total generating capacity in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.