Monday, April 9, 2012

Sabah: Greening the power supply

Sabah: Greening the power supply

Asia | 28 Feb 2011

In a dramatic move on February 17, the state government halted bidding for a new 300-MW coal-fired power station in Lahad Datu, citing environmental concerns. Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman told local press that, “Sabah needs to increase power supply to meet the increasing development, but the state cannot afford to put its natural environment at risk.” He noted that protecting Sabah’s environment was crucial for the growing tourism sector, particularly given the state’s efforts to promote nature tourism.
The proposal to replace the old Lahad Datu facility with another coal plant was widely criticised both locally and internationally due to environmental concerns over the power source. Furthermore, the new plant was to be located on the shoreline, adjacent to the exceptionally biodiverse Coral Triangle and only 20 km from the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, home to several rare species of animals. However, with coal ruled out for future projects, natural gas expected to become an increasingly important part of Sabah’s energy mix. The state is working to boost power capacity, while also enhancing sustainability and environmental protection under Malaysia’s New Economic Model (NEM). With electricity demand expected to grow by an annual average of 7.7% until 2020, and supply shortages currently leading to occasional blackouts, the need for substantial investments in energy is clear and initiatives to increase supply are under way at the state and federal levels.
On February 21, national press reported that the state-owned energy giant Petronas and Tenaga Nasional, Asia’s largest electricity utility firm – also publicly owned – were working together to harness liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a replacement power project, potentially to be located near the city of Sandakan. Musa explained that utilising LNG would help tackle the state’s electricity problems and reduce the cost to Tenaga Nasional of subsidising diesel for power generation on the east coast, which he said was running to RM2m ($627,000) per day.
The state government’s proposal is to use LNG from a plant in Bintulu in the neighbouring Malaysian state of Sarawak, to Sabah’s south-west. The plan stems from a directive from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose government is putting an increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection, as well as boosting the country’s energy capacity, particularly in Sabah.
While located in Sarawak, the Bintulu LNG plant sources its natural gas from fields off the coast of Sabah. The gas is transported through a 500-km, RM1.6bn ($524.82m) pipeline stretching from a terminal in Kimanis on Sabah’s west coast, where it is brought to land. Musa has suggested that the processed LNG could be shipped back to Sabah by sea to the proposed plant and that this would obviate the need for expensive new pipeline infrastructure.
Whatever decision is taken – and given the cost of new infrastructure and the incumbent federal and state governments’ preferences, shipping LNG from Bintulu seems to be the most likely option – the new plant will add much-needed capacity to the power grid in Sabah. With the government promoting the growth of manufacturing and tourism in the state, and with domestic demand on the rise, it is not expected to be the last such project.
Outside of local considerations, the decision to opt for a greener energy sources seems set to pay dividends abroad as well. Daniel Kammen, an energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who directed an energy and environmental impact assessment of the power plant project, described the decision to shift away from coal as “a turning point” and said that it would increase Malaysia’s opportunities to forge international partnerships at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties, set to be held in Durban, South Africa, in December.
Sabah is diversifying its energy mix further, with a strong focus on renewable sources, which account for around 3% of the generation for Sabah Electricity, compared to 0.5% nationally. In January, Musa said that the state aimed to become a renewable energy leader through investment in a number of projects. A RM280m ($91.84m) biomass plant is already under construction at the Lahad Datu palm oil industrial cluster. The project, developed by the state government-owned Palm Oil Industrial Cluster Sabah and a South Korean consortium, will run on oil palm waste. This is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as serve as a model for further clean energy development in Sabah and South-east Asia, according to Musa.
In its efforts to meet rising energy demands, Sabah is demonstrating flexibility and the ability to think creatively to address local problems with local resources. This may give it an extra edge as it seeks the investment needed to expand capacity.

Green Sabah says: Sabah does need to increase power supply and yet not affect the environment. The biomass plant from the palm oil waste will be good to recycle the waste created during the palm oil processing cycle for power generation. Hopefully it goes well.


Boss ku said...

One of the major advantages of biomass energy is it's small carbon footprint compared to fossil fuel. As long as new plant material is grown to replace that used, biomass energy produces no net CO2 increase.

Boss ku said...

To the extent biomass fuels replace fossil fuel and reduce the severity of forest fires and field burns, they reduce air pollution and the addition of nitrogen and sulfur compounds responsible for acid rain to the atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

Pemeliharaan dan pemuliharaan alam sekitar harus sentiasa diamalkan.

Anak Sabah said...

Kerajaan Sabah wajar disokong kerana sanggup mendengar luahan rakyat mengenai isu penjana arang batu sebelum ini.

Anak Sabah said...

Semoga kerajaan akan mengambil inisiatif untuk memastikan semua cara penjana elektrik adalah mesra alam.

John Winchester said...

the geothermal power plant would be using steam from the hot spring water to move the power turbine and produce electricity and is expected to be able to do so for the next 16 to 25 years.

Batresiah said...

Tenaga Mesra Alam perlu diambil perhatian oleh Kerajaan Negeri untuk memastikan tidak ada pencemaran berlaku.

Green Sabah said...

Hopefully more initiatives to utilize green technology and green technology will be taken by the government and private sector.

Green Sabah said...

Indeed, you're right John Winchester. The Geothermal Plant relies on the heat from rocks to generate power, the power generation this way would be more environmentally friendly since its from nature and more efficient too.

Green Sabah said...

Biomass fuel is also one of the alternative methods of generating power, some of the palm oil mills are starting to use the palm waste to generate their own energy, which allows efficient use of the waste and at the same time have sufficient electricity supply for themselves as well.

Harryzan Aming said...

geothermal and small hydropower investments can also feasibly be a clean replacement for the proposed coal plant, though at slightly higher cost.

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