Sabah state assembly passes new Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Enactment


KOTA KINABALU: The State Legislative Assembly approved the new Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Enactment 2024 and Energy Commission of Sabah Enactment (Amendment No. 2) 2024 on Thursday (April 25).

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said this will pave the way for the development of OTEC as a new source of renewable energy and as one of the main initiatives under the Blue Economy.

“The Enactment will enable the state through the Energy Commission of Sabah (ECoS) to regulate the activities of exploration, construction, and operation of OTEC facilities,” he said.

He said OTEC technology aims to harness the temperature difference between warm surface waters and cold ocean depths to generate electricity in an environment-friendly manner.

The Sulaman assemblyman added that Sabah boasts vast ocean resources with the right characteristics, making it prime territory for exploring OTEC.

“Research findings have indicated that certain areas in the state have the potential to generate up to 20,000MW of electric power which could be used to produce green hydrogen, a highly sought-after energy source to achieve net zero carbon emissions goals.

“This industry will create jobs and attract foreign direct investments to Sabah,” he said, adding that secondary products such as mariculture products and drinking water would further generate economic development in the local surrounding areas.

“By positioning ourselves as the first in the ASEAN region for OTEC development, the state can also attract skilled professionals and foster innovation for the development of Sabah,” Hajiji added.

Earlier, nominated assemblyman Datuk Yong Teck Lee touched on issues pertaining territorial waters of Sabah, borders, continental rights among other things.

He said in Sabah, there are only two areas suitable for OTEC - South China Sea and Balung, Tawau. But both were quite far, with Balung, Tawau (15km from seashore) being the most viable.

He is afraid that there would be people challenging that Sabah is subject to the Territorial Sea Act 2012 where Sabah only has authority up to 3 nautical miles or 5.5km from shore.

“Therefore this Bill is important because if we read - Sabah territorial waters are defined under the North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) order in Council 1954. This order in Council was chaired by the late Queen Elizabeth II,” Yong said.

And this Order in Council which defines Sabah territorial waters has never been challenged by any countries in the world, he said.

“Therefore we refer to the Federal Constitution, what is the territory of Malaysia?,” he asked.

“The territories of each state comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day, this means when we join Malaysia we bring the territorial limit immediately to form Malaysia,” said Yong.

He said with the passing of the Bill, it reaffirms once again that North Borneo is enforced and is in effect.

We must not compromise and we must insist that this is our territorial waters and do not give in to pressures saying otherwise.

Datuk Darell Leiking (Moyog - Warisan) then said it was vital that the 21 points under MA63 be settled so that there would not be any redundancy, and mentioned that sea and continent management were still under the National Security Council.

He added that this includes matters relating to the Territorial Sea Act 2012

Yong said there was no need to discuss anymore because the Order in Council 1954 clearly states Sabah’s rights on its sea and minerals.

Later, on the ECoS, Datuk Abdul Nasser Abdul Wahid stressed that the development of this new technology aligns with the Sabah Energy Roadmap and Master Plan 2040 (SE-RAMP 2040) launched last September to increase renewable energy mix and identify new energy sources and technologies for the long term.

The ECoS Chief Executive Officer said ECoS as the regulatory body, welcomes proposals in this regard to conduct exploration and feasibility studies to obtain the best development for Sabah.

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