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Friday, August 2, 2013

KL Gives Assurance on Tawau Geothermal Plant

TAWAU: Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili has reiterated the Federal Government's full support and cooperation in ensuring the 36MW geothermal power plant will be implemented without a glitch. The plant, malaysia's first, that operates using single flash technology is being developed by Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd (TGE), a locally incorporated company, which had been given approval to exploit indigeneous geothermal potential in Apas Kiri here. Dr Ongkili also commended TGE for undertaking this capital-intensive (RM506 million) project for the benefit of Sabah's power requirements as well as being an important contributor to the nation's renewable energy programme.

    During a technical visit to the site here, the minister was also impressed with what he saw and expressed confidence that the geothermal resource would provide more potential for electricity generation. He also said that geothermal energy would be included as one of the renewable energy technologies under the Renewable Energy Act 2011 and assured TGE that a reasonable Feed-in-Tariff based on all relevant parameters, would be announced in the near future. Dr Ongkili also called on TGE to ensure that all necessary measures were taken to comply with the conditions imposed by the various authorities, to preserve the environment and the surroundings from any adverse impacts. He also proposed that TGE set up a Geothermal Energy Training Centre to provide hands-on training in geology, geophysics and geochemistry for local students to enable the development of local expertise in these areas.

    "Apart from producing much needed power for Sabah's East Coast, this project will also lead to spin-offs for the local economy and the eco-tourism sector," he said. During the visit, Dr Ongkili was accompanied by Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datuk Dr. Joachim Gunsalam, Datuk T.G. Loo (Secretary General, Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water), Tan Sri Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin Ali (Chairman, Energy Commission), Dato Wira Azman Mohd (CEO, Tenaga Nasional Berhad), Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Hasan (CEO, Energy Commission) and Ali Askar Sher Mohamad (COO, Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia), senior officials from these agencies and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), as well as representatives from Malaysia's power industry.

    According to Managing Director, Ramzi Raad, they first visited the Apas Kiri geothermal manisfestations where they were briefed by TGE's geothermal exploration team with regard to the subsurface studies so far indicating good geothermal power potential. Later a project briefing was held at the power plant site, where the Minister and entourage were given an overview of the project, current project activities and the project's issues and challenges. The project is expected to enter into commercial operation in May 2016. Ramzi said Dr Ongkili led a very interesting Q&A session where TGE provided further clarification on issues raised. Meanwhile, the projected energy sales to Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) is 223,380,000 kWh per annum. Based on the briefing, 30MW would be exported to the SESB ZGrid via single circuit 132kV transmission lines to SESB Tawau Main Intake Substation and SESB Kalumpang Main Intake Substation via new 132/33kV Andrassy Main Intake Substation to be constructed under this project.

    This system, apart from evacuating power from the geothermal power plant, will also strengthen and reinforce SESB's high voltage transmission system for Tawau; TGE has applied to the Sustainable Energy Development Authority, Malaysia (SEDA) for (a) geothermal energy to be included as a renewable energy technology under the Renewable Energy Act 2011, and (b) the project to be included in the Feed-in-Tariff mechanism. It is imperative that such approval is received as soon as possible. Any undue delay will critically impact the project's cashflow, financial close and high-cost drilling activities;

    Geothermal energy is the cleanest and most environment-friendly of all electricity-producing technologies, with a carbon footprint of 0.09kg CO2/kWh as compared against 0.60kg CO2/kWh for natural gas, 0.895kg CO2/kWh and 1.13kg CO2/kWh for coal. This project's generation output of 36MW (gross) will be equivalent to 56 million tonnes of carbon equivalent eliminated annually, 13.5 trillion trees planted annualy and 45 million cars off the roads annually. The requisite Preliminary Site Assessment, upon submission to the Department of Environment (DOE), and subsequent One Stop Agency meeting, has received favourable consideration pending official approval. As an incentive, the Federal Government under a Facilitation Fund Agreement is giving a RM35 million grant. The project capital expenditure (Capex) of RM506 million to be funded via 70:30 debt and equty structure.

Source from: Daily Express, Independent National Newspaper of East Malaysia
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