Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) are forging a research collaboration to support the development of the first Hybrid OTEC (H-OTEC) test rig off Port Dickson at the International Institute of Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences (I-AQUAS) of UPM. This timely collaboration expedites Carbon Net-Zero for a low-carbon society and tackles the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Southeast Asia and Malaysia. This project was endorsed and funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JiCA), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and matching funds from the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) of Malaysia.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signing ceremony was held at UTM Kuala Lumpur (UTMKL) campus, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra, Kuala Lumpur and signed by YBhg. Professor Datuk Ts. Dr Ahmad Fauzi Ismail, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Vice-Chancellor and Y.Bhg. Prof Dr Nazamid Saari, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) UPM, representing YH Professor Dato’ Dr Mohd Roslan Sulaiman, Vice Chancellor of UPM. The significant event is made even more meaningful with the presence of Prof. Dr Yasuyuki Ikegami, the Director of Institute of Ocean Energy, Saga University (IOES) cum Research Director of SATREPS OTEC Programme.
This collaboration is under Science And Technology Research Partnership For Sustainable Development (SATREPS) OTEC Programme: Sustainability Of Hybrid Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (H-Otec) In Malaysia And Southeast Asia. The five-year SATREPS OTEC Programme is a joint research Programme between the Government of Japan and Malaysia which includes the Research and Development of the H-OTEC system and the multi-utilization of Deep Seawater (DSW) in the Malaysian eco-system, and it is called the “Malaysia model”. As the final project output, the Malaysian Model will be established. Furthermore, UTM is the only Malaysian university in Southeast Asia which has established an OTEC centre called UTM Ocean Thermal Energy Centre (UTM OTEC). The research programme was led by Project Director, Prof. Dato Ir. Dr A Bakar Jaafar and the Project Manager, Ts. Dr. Sathiabama T. Thirugnana.
This SATREPS OTEC Programme consists of 10 projects championed by UTM, UPM, UM, UKM, UMT and UMS. As highlighted earlier, the purpose of this Programme is to conduct research and development (R&D) of the Hybrid OTEC system technology, which combines energy generation and seawater desalination technology, based on the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), the technological element that was cultivated in Japan. In this initial phase, the proposed project will build a flexible research laboratory facility named UPM-UTM OTEC Centre at I-AQUAS UPM, Port Dickson. The proposed world-class facility, also a UTM satellite lab, will attract high calibre researchers, students and funding foundations and aim to produce the best students and researchers.
Currently, there are two operating OTEC demonstration plants in the world, none other than Kumejima of Japan and NELHA in Hawaii. The former pilot plant was constructed with the technical support of Saga University in 2013. Aligned with the UN’s SDGs and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), clean energy, food and water security and many more are achievable through Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a power generation technology which creates electricity based on utilizing the difference of temperature between the cold deep seawater that could not be reached by sunlight and the surface seawater warmed by the solar energy. It is used as a natural energy to replace fossil fuels which could directly reduce the quantity of CO2 emissions. Thus, it becomes a clean power generation technology which could produce green hydrogen for a cleaner environment. Furthermore, the energy stored in the ocean is enormous, and at the same time, it is not being largely influenced by meteorological condition, we can ensure a stable energy supply and achieve carbon net-zero by 2050.
This MoA strengthens both UTM and UPM in many ways and is not limited to research, innovation and commercialization of OTEC and its spin-off industries. The quality of education and visibility of both universities and all stakeholders will go to greater heights through this partnership.
Author: Sathiabama T.Thirugnana.