Malaysia’s geothermal energy industry in Tawau is to be developed in a partnership with the University of Auckland’s world renowned Institute for Earth Sciences and Engineering.
Dr Andy Shenk, chief executive of Auckland UniServices, inked a memorandum of understanding with Tawau Green Energy (TGE) in Auckland early this month.
It covers the establishment and support for a Geothermal Resource Centre (GRC) being set up by TGE in Tawau and supported by Malaysia’s Federal Government and the Sabah State Government.
Dr Shenk says Tawau is an area that will benefit from a sustainable power source. The university’s Institute was approached by TGE on the back of its work not only in neighbouring Indonesia, but also many places around the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific.
Staff from the University of Auckland will assist the Geothermal Resource Centre to provide specialist training in all aspects of geothermal energy including applied geosciences, steamfield design, power plant technology, power plant engineering and design, operations and maintenance, environmental compliance.
TGE’s managing director Ramzi Raad says the centre will also run seminars, short courses and other training programmes for Malaysian engineers and scientists keen to involve themselves in this new field of renewable energy. It will also encourage local and foreign universities to collaborate on joint-research activities on Malaysia’s Apas Kiri geothermal field.
TGE is developing Malaysia’s first geothermal power plant at Apas Kiri, Tawau, which will deliver 30MW of electricity to the Sabah State Grid in May 2016. Drilling operations are expected to commence at the end of April 2014.
Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Dr Maximus Ongkili, who led the delegation to New Zealand, says Malaysia wants to promote use of renewable energy and reduce its dependency on fossil fuel. Currently renewable energy accounts for 0.85% of the country’s energy mix, but it hopes to increase that to 5.5% in the near future.
The Malaysian delegation also visited the Wairakei combined flash and binary geothermal power plant and the Ngatamariki binary geothermal power plant, both located near Taupo.