French group DCNS and the OTEC Centre of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM OTEC) are to investigate the potential for an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant on the Malaysian island of Layang-Layang.

At the recent DSA Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, the two entities signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to conduct a pre-feasibility study aimed at identifying the potential opportunities for developing a pioneer OTEC plant.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion uses the difference of temperature that naturally exists in tropical waters between the surface water (about 25°C) and deep water (5°C at a depth of 1,000 meters) to create electricity. It is a non-intermittent baseload energy source that could represent medium-term green alternative to gas, diesel and coa), which are still used heavily on isolated tropical sites that have no connection to continental electrical networks.

The island of Layang-Layang, situated off Sabah in the North of Malaysia, is well positioned for the development of OTEC with a temperature difference above 20 degrees throughout the year.

Aware of the great potential of OTEC in Malaysia, in 2013 UTM created a research center – UTM OTEC – dedicated to the development of this technology, supported by the Malaysian Ministry for Energy.

The OTEC technology developed by DCNS, currently being improved in Reunion Island and later installed in real conditions in Martinique, could represent an innovative solution for the development of this new source of energy in Malaysia.

"The outcome of the study would allow Malaysia to scope the nature and extent of its pioneer OTEC plant to generate electricity or to produce hydrogen fuel, and water" said Prof Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar. "A game changer!"