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UTM and UPM to Establish New OTEC Centre

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) announced a research collaboration aimed at supporting 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 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 and was signed by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) of UPM (representing the Vice Chancellor of UPM).

This collaboration falls under the 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-utilisation of Deep Seawater (DSW) in the Malaysian eco-system and is known as the “Malaysia model”. The Malaysian Model will be established as the final project output.

In addition, UTM is the only Malaysian university in Southeast Asia which has established an OTEC centre, the UTM Ocean Thermal Energy Centre (UTM OTEC).

This SATREPS OTEC Programme consists of 10 projects championed by UTM, UPM, UM, UKM, UMT and UMS. As highlighted earlier, the Programme was designed to enable research and development (R&D) into 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 developed in Japan.

In its 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.

There are two operating OTEC demonstration plants in the world currently, including 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 much more are achievable via Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a power generation technology that creates electricity via the utilisation 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.

In this method, natural energy replaces fossil fuels and could directly reduce the quantity of CO2 emissions. Thus, it is labelled a clean power generation technology that 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 largely influenced by meteorological conditions, ensuring a stable energy supply and achieving carbon net-zero by 2050.

This MoA strengthens both UTM and UPM in many ways and is not limited to research, innovation and commercialisation 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.


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