6th August, 2016
By Eric Bagang
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will be the home to Malaysia’s first geothermal power plant developed by Tawau Green Technology Sdn Bhd (TGE) in Tawau.
Set to produce some 30 Megawatt (MW) of electricity for Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) under the Feed- In-Tariff (FIT) scheme, geothermal energy technology is considered as very clean with extremely low carbon footprints and has very high availability and reliability rate.
Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili said that the geothermal power plant is scheduled to achieve commercial operation by June 2018 which will place Malaysia as the 16th country in the world that generates geothermal energy.
“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 on 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 in Apas Kiri that was conducted earlier both by TGE geologists as well as by the Mineral and Geoscience Department of Malaysia,” he told a press conference at a hotel here yesterday.
According to Dr Maximus, geothermal made history in the country when the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia gazetted the resource as the fifth renewable energy under the FIT portfolio in 2015.
“As of today, two geothermal well pads are completed and the third will pad is being constructed.
“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 the Conference of the Parties 21,” he added.
Dr Maximus added that geothermal has an important role to play in the renewable energy mix, and has the potential to contribute to the energy balancing market.
As of June this year, he said that SEDA has approved a total of 9,570 FIT applications with a total capacity of 1,308.55 MW, where 6,201 of them have achieved commercial operation with a total capacity of 364.02 MW.
He said that by the end of the 11th Malaysia Plan in 2020, renewable energy is estimated to reach an installed capacity of 2,080 MW which is 7.8 per cent of the total electricity generating capacity in Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah.
Meanwhile, TGE General Manager, Ir Andrew Amaladoss said that the company said the total investment in the project is RM600 million including a RM35 million grant from the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS).
This, he said includes the cost of drilling 10 wells at the cost of USD5 million (RM20 million) each.
However, he said that the company is expecting to get its return of investment in 10 years, considering the extremely low operational cost and high reliability of the system.