KOTA KINABALU: The Kudat district in northern Sabah is being geared up to become the renewable energy centre for the state.
Located some 190km from here, Kudat receives a large amount of sunlight, which makes it ideal for solar power generation.
To date, the Federal Government through the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry and the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) has approved solar power projects capable of generating some 58 Megawatts (MW) of electricity.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said of that amount, 50MW would be generated under the Large Scale Solar (LSS) scheme developed jointly by Tadau Energy Sdn Bhd and Edra Global Energy Bhd.
"The remaining 8MW is under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme," said Ongkili after visiting solar power plants in Indarason and Bak-Bak Beach in Kudat.
He further explained that of the 50MW from LSS, 2MW would be channelled to the local Kudat electricity grid while the bulk of 48MW will be injected to the 132 kilovolt (kV) transmission line to be distributed across Sabah.
"This 50MW is entirely funded by the private sector and will create job opportunities for locals as it will need technical and management personnel for operation and maintenance," said Ongkili.
Apart from solar power, Ongkili said both Kudat and Kota Marudu have been identified for wind energy development, based on studies by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and other power agencies in China and Thailand which concluded that up to 300MW of electricity could be generated using wind energy.
He added that the Federal Government is also planning to exploit wind energy as part of its effort to reduce subsidies for diesel-powered electricity generation by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).
Currently, between RM450mil to RM600mil is spent annually by the Federal Treasury for diesel subsidies.
"It is not only wasteful but also inefficient as it leaves a large carbon footprint, which defeats Malaysia's commitment in the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
"The Federal Cabinet is considering a reduction of the diesel subsidy by half over the next three years and replacing diesel power generation with renewable energy," said Ongkili.
There are also plans to set up a research centre for renewable energy in Kudat for both wind and solar power, which would see collaboration between local universities and Asean energy institutes.