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Topic : Proposal to build a geothermal plant Tawau in Sabah in NW Borneo

Location: Tawau in Sabah in NW Borneo 95 acres.
Objective: to build a power plant to facilitate the demand power consumption requirement
Financial requirement:
Non power generated;
Power generating :
Security :
Total ;

Energy production capacity: MW / month

Time frame for construction of plant: years


Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy
is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. The geothermal energy of the
Earth's crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of
materials (in currently uncertain but possibly roughly equal proportions). The geothermal
gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface,
drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the
surface. The adjective geothermal originates from the Greek roots (ge), meaning earth,
and (thermos), meaning hot.
Earth's internal heat is thermal energy generated from radioactive decay and continual heat loss
from Earth's formation.Temperatures at the coremantle boundary may reach over 4000 C
(7,200 F).[4] The high temperature and pressure in Earth's interior cause some rock to melt and
solid mantle to behave plastically, resulting in portions of mantle convecting upward since it is
lighter than the surrounding rock. Rock and water is heated in the crust, sometimes up to 370 C
(700 F).
From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and
for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity
generation. Worldwide, 11,700 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 2013.[6] An
additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heatingcapacity is installed for district heating,
space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications in 2010.
Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly,[8] but
has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological
advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for
applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal
wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much
lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to
help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.
The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's
energy needs, but only a very small fraction may be profitably exploited. Drilling and
exploration for deep resources is very expensive. Forecasts for the future of geothermal power
depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, and interest rates. Pilot
programs like EWEB's customer opt in Green Power Program [9] show that customers would be
willing to pay a little more for a renewable energy source like geothermal. But as a result of
government assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power
has decreased by 25% over the past two decades.[10] In 2001, geothermal energy cost between
two and ten US cents per kWh



The Tawau Geothermal Project is located in North East Malaysia (Borneo), Figure 1. The
field is being explored for geothermal power development by Tawau Green Energy (TGE), a
Malaysian based renewable energy company. The field evidence is for a moderate sized volcanic
geothermal field with medium grade temperature. Although the surface geothermal manifestation
and potential of the area for geothermal development have been known since the early sixties
(Kirk 1962), the field has been largely overlooked for development because of the indications for
medium grade temperature which would produce only a small steam flash if developed as a
conventional flashed steam power development. However, work by TGE over the past two years
has changed this perception and it is now recognized that the field is prime for development with
an organic Rankine cycle power plant operating at a geothermal resource temperature of around
200oC and probably with pumped production wells The project is currently being prepared for a
two well exploration drilling program expected to commence in July 2014 and it is expected that
the results of drilling will be available at the time of presentation of this paper in april 2015.
(Peter R,2014)



Figure 1.1 : Adapted from google image

Figure 1.3 : Project Location of Geothermal Plant, Tawau Sabah, North West Malaysia (Peter

Geothermal Setting

Sabah lies in the northern part of an important junction between the Eurasian, Indo-Australian
Pacific and Philippines Sea Plates. It also occupies a central position between three marginal
basins: the Sulu, Celebes and South China Seas. The Semporna Peninsular where the Tawau
Geothermal prospect is found has been subject to two phases of volcanism. The first originated
from the subduction in Late Eocene to Middle Miocene times of the Proto China sea plate
southeastward beneath present day Northern Borneo and extension to the SE in the Celebes Sea
and Makassar Strait. This produced melting in the down going slab and extensive surface
volcanism forming an arc in the vicinity of the Semporna and Dent peninsulas in NW Borneo
(Figure 2)

Figure 2: Plate Tectonic Structure of Borneo in Late Oligocene Times

Figure 3: Plate Tectonic Structure of Borneo in Late Miocene to Pliocene Times

Secondly, subduction of the Proto South China plate ceased and subduction of the Celebes Sea
Plate to the Northwest commenced about 11.6Ma and generated a NE trending arc of andesitic to
dacitic activity of Miocene to Quaternary age in the Dent and Semporna Peninsulas (Figure 3).
Transpressional movement along major strike slip faults in this region is possibly related to
propagation of deformation from Sulawesi towards Sabah in late Pliocene times. This existing
strike slip deformation which is well evident through the Tawau project area likely indicates a
strongly structurally controlled and permeable structural network developed over the geothermal
system at Tawau (TGE Geology).


A geological map for the Tawau geothermal prospect is shown in Figure 4 (TGE 2013a). The
Tawau geothermal project is located in a mountainous area known as the Tawau Hills which
forms the backbone of the Semporna Peninsular. The Tawau Hills have been built up by Miocene
to Late Pleistocene andesitic, basaltic and dacitic volcanic rocks as described above. Plesistocene
dacites and andesites form Mounts Magdalena and Maria, the dominant topographical features in

the area. The youngest volcanic rocks are olivine basalts erupted in the late Pleistocene time at
Quoin Hill to the east of Mt Maria and Mt Bombalai to the west, which appear to be late stage
eruptives located on the rim of a late stage circular collapse feature developed about Mt Maria
Thermoluminescence dating studies of the Tawau volcanic rocks have been reported by
Takashima et al (2005). Of 12 samples dated, the youngest was found to be 0.09Ma from a
monogenetic cinder cone. Ages of dacitic volcanic rocks from the foot of Mt Maria ranged from
0.34 to 0.45 Ma with the ages of underlying andesitic lavas ranging from 0.27 to 0.52 Ma. Ages
for the occurrence of hydrothermal alteration in the project area were also determined with
samples from the Upper Tawau Hot Springs (Figure 5) being 0.15 to 0.19Ma. Other ages were
widely scattered from 0.27 to 0.66Ma.
The project areas has a strongly developed pattern of transcurrent faulting on a NW-SE trend
with subordinate N-S and NESW trending faults (see Figure 4) (TGE 2013a) . This is consistent
with the structural framework and regional stress regime of the Borneo region showing strike slip
faulting and transpressional tectonics from the late Pliocene to the present day which probably
caused most structural development (Belagaru and Hall, 2009).
Overall the Tawau geothermal prospect is considered to be well situated with respect to plate
tectonics, has a long history of magamatism and recent volcanism and has a well-developed
structural fabric with good potential for high structural permeability.

TGE has completed a thorough reexamination and re-sampling of all known springs. Chemical
analyses of the springs are given in Table 1 and computed chemical geothermometers are given
in Table 2. Surface thermal activity at Apas Kiri consist mainly of warm and hot springs ranging
up to 78oC and these have arbitrarily been divided into 4 groups based on spatial and chemical
considerations (see Figure 5). These include: A-Block (Apas Kiri hot spring, of Na-Cl type water
with a maximum temperature of 78oC and 1400 mg/kg Cl), B-Block (Balung hot springs,
maximum 56oC, is a CaSO4 water with slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.4, about 1000mg/kg SO4, 1
mg/kg Cl and some Sulfur deposition), T-1 Block (Tawau city hot spring, a mixed anion type
water with Cl at 353 mg/kg) and T-2-Block (Tawau Hill conservation area hot springs) maximum
34oC, is a Ca-SO4 water with acidic pH of 4.0 to 4.4 and 324 to 491 mg/kg SO4 , 8-11 mg/kg Cl
and some Sulfur deposition) (see Figure 5). There are no fumarole manifestations in the area.

Figure 5: Apas Kiri: Location of thermal features (after GeothermEx, 2014)

Table 2 lists a set of standard chemical geothermometry applied to the 4 blocks described above.
In relation to this tabulation
(GeothermEx 2014) notes:
chemical geothermometers dont apply to the waters of T2 Block and B Block because
they are shallow and would not have equilibrated at high temperatures
The T2 Block hot spring isnt listed but presents evidence of a system maximum of about
100 to 115oC
Two forms of the Na/K geothermometer are listed. One is calibrated by Fournier and the
other is a relatively new calibration by Santoyo and Diaz-Gonzales (2010)
Table 2 does not list the commonly cited Na/K and K-Mg temperatures of Giggenbach
(1988) because they produce higher temperature estimates than do other calibrations
thereby increasing the risk to the project of over estimating the resource
Table 2 also lists the sulfate-water oxygen isotope temperature using the data available in
Jovino et al (2010) and the anhydrite (CaSO4) geothermometer calculated by

GeothermEx (2014) using the Watch 24 computer code for geochemical thermodynamic
speciation applied to a set of representative samples.
Different geothermometry computations can yield very different results of different responses to
cooling from highest temperature conditions at depth. The general sequence of response rate
(most resistant to least resistant) is sulfate-water 180 isotope > Na/K Na-Ca-K> quartz> (Na-KCa-Mg, K-Mg, Anhydrite, Chalcedony) - GeothermEx, 2014). The isotope geothermometer in
particular takes a long time to equilibrate, estimated at 18 years at 200oC. Other processes such
as mixing oxidation and precipitation can also affect results.
These geochemical data are interpreted as follows - the hydrothermal system that feeds the Apas
Kiri Hot springs appears to rise from a deep upwelling under Mt Maria at about 180 to 2200C,
resides for a long time at about the same temperature and then cools to about 120oC in an
outflow to the south and south east before discharging at the Apas Kiri hot springs. There is a
large O-18 shift that is displayed by the hot springs that implies a long residence time that in turn
implies time for complete equilibration of the isotope temperature.

The basic types of geothermal power plants in use today are steam condensing turbines
and binary cycle units. Steam condensing turbines can be used in flash or dry-steam plants
operating at sites with intermediate- and high-temperature resources (150C). The power plant
generally consists of pipelines, water-steam separators, vaporizers, de-misters, heat exchangers,
turbine generators, cooling systems, and a step-up transformer for transmission into the electrical
grid. The power unit size usually ranges from 20 to 110 MWe, and may utilize a multiple fl ash
system, flashing the fluid in a series of vessels at successively lower pressures, to maximize the
extraction of energy from the geothermal fl uid. The only difference between a flash plant and a
dry-steam plant is that the latter does not require brine separation, resulting in a simpler and
cheaper design.

Technology in Geothermal plant

Technology developments during the 1980s have advanced lower temperature geothermal
electricity production. These plants, known as binary geothermal plants, today make use of
resource temperatures as low as 165oF, or 74oC (assuming certain parameters are in place) and
as high as 350oF (177oC). Approximately 15 percent of all geothermal power plants utilize
binary conversion technology.
In the binary process, the geothermal fluid, which can be either hot water, steam, or a mixture of
the two, heats another liquid such as isopentane or isobutane (known as the working fluid),
that boils at a lower temperature than water. The two liquids are kept completely separate
through the use of a heat exchanger used to transfer heat energy from the geothermal water to the
working fluid. When heated, the working fluid vaporizes into gas and (like steam) the force of
the expanding gas turns the turbines that power the generators.
Geothermal fluids never make contact with the atmosphere before they are pumped back into the
underground geothermal reservoir. Because the geothermal water never flashes in air-cooled
binary plants, 100 percent can be injected back into the system through a closed loop. This serves
the duel purpose of reducing already low emissions to near zero, and also maintaining reservoir
pressure, thereby extending project lifetime. For lower pressure steam, a two phase binary cycle
is sometimes used. Two-phase systems are similar to traditional binary cycles, except the steam
flow enters the vaporizer/heat-exchanger, while the geothermal liquid is used to preheat the
organic motive fluid. The steam condensate either flows into the pre-heater or is combined in the
geothermal liquid after the pre-heater. Since the steam pressure in the vaporizer/heatexchanger
remains above atmospheric pressure, the non condensable gases (NCG) can be reinjected
together with cooled-geothermal fluid or simply vented without the need for a power consuming
vacuum pump. Figure 4 shows Binary Power plant schematics.

Figure 4 : Binary Power Plant Schematic


Market Study and Strategy

The market study for this research is done based on the Icelands geothermal energy
production. The countrys geothermal production is administrated by Iceland National Energy

4.1 International market survey Iceland Geothermal

Iceland is a pioneer in the use of geothermal energy for space heating. Generating
electricity with geothermal energy has increased significantly in recent years. Geothermal power
facilities currently generate 25% of the country's total electricity production. During the course
of the 20th century, Iceland went from what was one of Europe's poorest countries, dependent
upon peat and imported coal for its energy, to a country with a high standard of living where
practically all stationary energy is derived from renewable resources. In 2014, roughly 85% of
primary energy use in Iceland came from indigenous renewable resources. Thereof 66% was
from geothermal.

4.1.1 Legalization of the power production

The ownership of resources inside the ground is attached to a private land, while on
public land resources inside the ground are the property of the State of Iceland, unless others can
prove their right of ownership. Even though the ownership of resources is based on the
ownership of land, research and utilization is subject to licensing according to the land
registration act and electricity act. Survey, utilization and other development pursuant to these
Acts are also subject to the Nature Conservation Act, Planning and Building Act and other acts
relating to the survey and utilization of land and land benefits.
The Act on Survey and Utilization of Ground Resources, covers resources inside the
ground, at the bottom of rivers and lakes and at the bottom of the sea within netting limits. The
Act also covers surveys of hydropower for the generation of electricity. The term resource
applies to any element, compound and energy that can be extracted from the earth, whether in
solid, liquid or gaseous form, regardless of the temperature at which they may be found.

According to the Act Orkustofnun is permitted to take the initiative in and/or give
instructions on surveying and prospecting for resources in the ground anywhere in the country,
regardless of whether the owner of the land has himself or herself begun such surveying or
prospecting or permitted others such surveying or prospecting, unless the party in question holds
a valid prospecting license pursuant to the Act. In the same way, Orkustofnun may permit others
to survey or prospect, in which case a prospecting license shall be issued to them. A prospecting
license confers the right to search for the resource in question within a specific area during the
term of the license, survey extent, quantity and potential yield and to observe in other respects
the terms which are laid down in the Act and which Orkustofnun considers necessary.
The utilization of resources inside the ground is subject to a license from Orkustofnun,
whether it involves utilization on private land or public land, with the exceptions provided for in
the Act. A landowner does not have a priority to a utilization license for resources on his or her
land, unless such an owner has previously been issued a prospecting license. A utilization license
permits the license holder to extract and use the resource in question during the term of the
license to the extent and on the terms laid down in the Act and regarded necessary by
Orkustofnun. Before the holder of a utilization license begins extraction on private land the
holder needs to reach an agreement with the landowner on compensation for the resource or
obtain permission for expropriation and request assessment. In the event of neither an agreement
made on compensation nor expropriation requested within 60 days immediately following the
date of issue of a utilization license, the license shall be cancelled. The same applies if utilization
on the basis of the license has not started within three years of the issuance of the license. This
also applies to the utilization of resources inside public land.
Orkustofnun may revoke the above licenses if their conditions are not fulfilled. If a
license holder does not comply with the conditions established in the license or contracts relating
to the license, Orkustofnun shall issue a written warning and provide time limits for rectification.
Should the license holder not comply with such a warning, the license shall be revoked.
According to the Electricity Act, a license issued by Orkustofnun is required to construct
and operate an electric power plant. However, such a license is not required for electric power
plants with a rated capacity of under 1 MW, unless the energy produced is delivered into the
distribution system of a distribution system operator or into the national transmission grid. The

owners of power plants with a rated capacity of 30 1,000 kW shall submit technical details of
the plant to the National Energy Authority. Also, the National Energy Authority shall be
informed annually of the total generation of power plants with a rated capacity of over 100 kW.
The National Energy Authority is responsible for monitoring mineral prospecting or
extraction areas and geothermal areas, as well as to regulate the compliance of companies
operating under issued licenses. The National Energy Authority will report to the Minister of
Industry, Energy and Tourism on the conduct of exploration, prospecting, and extraction in
accordance with further instructions issued by the Minister. The protection and monitoring of
prospecting and extraction areas is also subject to the Nature Conservation Act.

4.3 The variety of Icelands geothermal

Iceland is well known to be a world leader in the use of geothermal district heating. After
the Second World War, Orkustofnun carried out research and development, which has led to the
use of geothermal resources for heating of households. Today, about 9/10 households are heated
with geothermal energy.
Space heating is the largest component in the direct use of geothermal energy in Iceland.
The figure 4.3 below gives a breakdown of the utilization of geothermal energy for 2013. In the
year 2013, the total use of geothermal was high, with space heating accounting for 45%.
Figure 4.3: The distribution of geothermal energy 2013

4.4 Sustainability of Icelands Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that can be utilized in a sustainable or
excessive manner. Excessive production from a geothermal field can only be maintained for a
relatively short time, and can indicate over investment in wells and power plant equipment. After
a period of prolonged overuse, a field operator is forced to reduce the production to the level of
maximum sustainable use. To avoid excessive production, Stepwise development is initiated.
Stepwise development of geothermal resources is a methodology that takes into
consideration the individual conditions of each geothermal system, and minimizes the long-term
production cost. The cost of drilling is a substantial component both in the exploration and the
development of geothermal fields. With the stepwise development method, production from the
field is initiated shortly after the first, successful wells have been drilled. The production and
response history of the reservoir during the first development step is used to estimate the size of
the next development step. In this way, favorable conditions are achieved for the timing of the
investment in relation to the timing of revenue, resulting in lower long-term production costs
than could be achieved by developing the field in one step. Merging the stepwise development

method, with the concept of sustainable development of geothermal resources, results in an

attractive and economical way to utilize geothermal energy resources.

4.5 Electricity Generation

Generating electricity with geothermal energy has increased significantly in recent years.
As a result of a rapid expansion in Iceland's energy intensive industry, the demand for electricity
has increased considerably. The figure on the right shows the development from 1970-2013. The
installed generation capacity of geothermal power plants totaled 665 MWe in 2013 and the
production was 5.245 GWh, or 29% of the country's total electricity production.

Figure 4.4 (a): The production site and total energy produced as till 2012

Figure 4.4(b) : The consumption of geothermal electricity 2013