Green Options to Reduce Sabah’s Power Shortage

Power generation from biomass is good for the
environment, but it is not the only solution, says Sabah’s Minister of

Tourism, Culture and Environment

The Sabah state government views Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) Small

Renewable Energy Programme as an environment-friendly option that can

run parallel with coal-fired plants to ease the power shortage.

The programme recommends linking up some 100 palm oil mills to generate

power from biomass gas.

“Power generation from biomass is good

for the environment, but it is not the only solution. We can explore all

possibilities to ease power shortage in Sabah,” state Minister of

Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said.


await the feasibility study by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to

assess the power distribution efficiency,” he told reporters after

officiating at the Biodiversity and Conservation in Plantations 2010

workshop, organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and the

Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP), in Sandakan yesterday.

“The study also needs to find out how much investment is needed to

link up some 100 palm oil mills in Sabah to generate renewable

electricity from biomass,” he added.

According to the MPOB,

there are 417 palm oil mills in the country, out of which 121 are in


Mills emit greenhouse gas like methane from the retention

ponds after oil extraction. Estate owners can trap methane from the

mill sludge and reuse discarded empty fruit bunches as a renewable

source of clean energy to fuel steam turbines and generate electricity.

Biomass and biogas technology are available.

Currently, utility

giant TNB buys renewable energy at 21sen/KWh from green independent

power producers such as biomass plant owners.

Also present at

the workshop were MPOC deputy chief executive Dr Kalyana Sundram and ISP

vice-chairman Charles Chow.

“Out of these 121 mills, we can

identify that 30 are within close range of the power grid. If these 30

mills can generate 10MW each, it will be enough to supply 300MW.

Therefore, we feel there is no need for the proposed 300MW coal-fired

power plant.

“The MPOB cess that we pay should come back as

technical help to re-engineer our palm oil mills to be efficient power

generation plants,” Chow said.

“We want to adopt a zero-waste

policy and this is an opportune time to come up with a comprehensive

energy policy for Sabah,” he added.

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd,

which is 80 per cent owned by TNB, faces tremendous pressure to step up

power supply in the eastern part of the state.

Sabah is the

only state in the country that has long suffered from frequent power


Malaysia has a System Average Interruption Duration

Index (Saidi) target that tracks the number of minutes consumers

experience power failure in the state. Sabah recorded a high rate of

2,870 minutes/consumer annually at the end of last year.


for electricity in Sabah is 750 MW, while the state can generate 800MW.

However, an additional 20-25 per cent of power supply is needed to

ensure reliable supply.

Last week, Energy, Green Technology and

Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui pledged that electricity

interruption in Sabah would be considerably reduced to 700

minutes/consumer by the year-end, failing which he would step down from


Source : Business Times by Ooi Tee Ching

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