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Sabah needs to play part to realise renewable energy target
Published on: Sunday, October 23, 2022
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Sabah needs to play part to realise renewable energy target
SABAH needs to play its part to realise the Federal Government’s target of having renewable energy as 20 per cent of the nation’s power generation mix by 2023.

As demand for electricity grows in Sabah, geothermal power has the aptitude to be a clean, steady and local option for electricity generation.

At  Sabah’s Apas Kiri Geothermal field  the exploration results offer good  evidence for an exploitable geothermal resource of about 14sq km area size and with temperature about  200ºC and with about 85MWe of resource capacity at a P50 level of probability.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated that geothermal resources are thermal energy that is stored as heat in the rocks of the Earth’s crust and interior. Areas with high-temperature water or steam at or near the surface were often called “active” geothermal areas. Water or steam from fissures to deeper depths in areas saturated with water may be tapped for electricity generation “at relatively low cost.” If an area lacks such, geothermal energy can still be accessed through drilling to a deeper depth and injecting water through wells to utilise the heat in dry rocks.

Geothermal energy is a heat that is derived from earth. The supply of energy is unlimited so geothermal energy is a renewable resource and available continuously. When the rainwater seeps through the cracks, it will be collected and forms a geothermal reservoir. The geothermal reservoir will be heated by magma and produce superheated fluid.

After that, the superheated fluid will be extracted to the surface of earth for electricity generation or direct use purposes. Geothermal energy is more flexible than other irregular renewable energy resources such as solar and wind which may be affected by the changes of weather conditions.

Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd had completed the drilling works of two deep exploration wells into the central portions of the Mount Maria up-flow in channelling hot water up from 2km in the ground.

The Tawau Geothermal Plant planned to use flash steam technology. It consists of a single unit condensation type turbo-generator with net gross 36MW of power generation capacity.

Hot brine is extracted from deep geothermal wells with approximate depths between 2km to 3km within the steam field and flashed to produce two phase steam. Wells are channelled to the vicinity of the powerhouse through thermally insulated pipelines.

The two phase steam will be extracted from the well and flowed into a centralised steam separator in order to remove moisture and impurities. Condensing type turbo generators will receive dry steam with a purity that exceeds 99.9 per cent. While gas ejectors and vacuum pumps extract those non-condensable gases from the condensate, condensate that from turbines is delivered to cooling towers. After that, cooling towers will release a large portion of cooled condensate that will be injected back to the reservoir.

There are around 24 countries using geothermal plants to generate electricity. The largest installed capacities are Geysers Geothermal Complex, United States, which is 3,450MW. Malaysia’s neighbours the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand had installed 1,870MW, 1,340MW and 0.3MW respectively. 


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