Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar[1]

The alignment of the Ministry for Energy[2], Green Technology, and Water since 9 April 2009 toward realising the concept of “sustainability”, as a result of the most recent change in the Cabinet line-up of the federal Government of Malaysia under the leadership of the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abd Razak, is timely and in line with the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI)[3], adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, which addresses energy in the context of sustainable development. Among other things, the JPOI calls for action to:

- Improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services;
- Recognize that energy services have positive impacts on poverty eradication and the improvement of standards of living;
- Develop and disseminate alternative energy technologies with the aim of giving a greater share of the energy mix to renewable energy and, with a sense of urgency, substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources;
- Diversify energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective energy technologies;
- Combine a range of energy technologies, including advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies, to meet the growing need for energy services;
- Accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and energy conservation technologies; and
- Take action, where appropriate, to phase out subsidies in this area that inhibit sustainable development.

As stated in the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), the access to electricity in the rural areas is expected to increase: in Peninsular Malaysia from 97.5% in 2000 to 98.8% by 2010; in Sabah from 67.1% to 80.6%; and in Sarawak 66.9% to 89.6%. Though the coverage[4] has improved, the remaining areas would be best served by the in-situ generation of renewables: from pico-hydros to mini-hydros, solar and wind energy, and biogas from the anaerobic digestion of organic-waste including that of palm-oil mill effluent (POME), the perishable household waste, “green” waste from grass cutting and tree-pruning.

Established as early as in 1955 by Professor Dr William F. Cottrell[5] of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio-USA, there is a direct link between “energy”, “social changes” and “economic development”. Thus, it has been well recognized that the availability of “energy services” would help eradicate poverty, particularly in the rural areas. Therefore, rural electricity coverage, especially in Sabah and Sarawak need be improved by developing and applying the “green” renewable energy techonologies.

On the diversification of energy supply from oil-coal-gas-hydro to other sources of energy, there is a pressing need to plan and develop more advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective energy technologies. There is also a need to re-visit the use of nuclear energy, but the question of nuclear waste management including its safe disposal site remains uncertain.

Nonetheless, a high priority ought to be given to the development of renewable energy not only from solar and wind, tide-tidal and wave, biomass-biogas, but also from ocean-thermal sources[6] in deep waters with 5 degree to over 20 degree Celcius of temperature differential in the water column of about 2900 metre deep in the Sabah Trough.

Ocean Thermal Conversion (OTEC) “ technology is not new. In 1881, Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval, a French physicist, proposed tapping the thermal energy of the ocean. But it was d'Arsonval's student, Georges Claude, who in 1930 actually built the first OTEC plant in Cuba. The system produced 22 kilowatts of electricity with a low-pressure turbine. In 1935, Claude constructed another plant aboard a 10,000-ton cargo vessel moored off the coast of Brazil. Weather and waves destroyed both plants before they became net power generators. (Net power is the amount of power generated after subtracting power needed to run the system.) In 1956, French scientists designed another 3-megawatt OTEC plant for Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa. The plant was never completed, however, because it was too expensive. The United States became involved in OTEC research in 1974 with the establishment of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. The Laboratory has become one of the world's leading test facilities for OTEC technology.”[7]

“OTEC has important benefits other than power production. For example, air conditioning can be a byproduct. Spent cold seawater from an OTEC plant can chill fresh water in a heat exchanger or flow directly into a cooling system. Simple systems of this type have air conditioned buildings at the Natural Energy Laboratory for several years. OTEC technology also supports chilled-soil agriculture. When cold seawater flows through underground pipes, it chills the surrounding soil. The temperature difference between plant roots in the cool soil and plant leaves in the warm air allows many plants that evolved in temperate climates to be grown in the subtropics. The Natural Energy Laboratory maintains a demonstration garden near its OTEC plant with more than 100 different fruits and vegetables, many of which would not normally survive in Hawaii. Aquaculture is perhaps the most well-known byproduct of OTEC. Cold-water delicacies, such as salmon and lobster, thrive in the nutrient-rich, deep seawater from the OTEC process. Microalgae such as Spirulina, a health food supplement, also can be cultivated in the deep-ocean water. As mentioned earlier, another advantage of open or hybrid-cycle OTEC plants is the production of fresh water from seawater. Theoretically, an OTEC plant that generates 2-MW of net electricity could produce about 4,300 cubic meters (14,118.3 cubic feet) of desalinated water each day. OTEC also may one day provide a means to mine ocean water for 57 trace elements. Most economic analyses have suggested that mining the ocean for dissolved substances would be unprofitable. Mining involves pumping large volumes of water and the expense of separating the minerals from seawater. But with OTEC plants already pumping the water, the only remaining economic challenge is to reduce the cost of the extraction process.”[8]

Indeed, during the Ninth Malaysia Plan period (2006-2010), the energy sector will further enhance its role as an enabler towards strengthening economic growth. In this regard, the sources of fuel will be diversified through greater utilisation of renewable energy. A market-based approach will be promoted to ensure efficient allocation of resources. Emphasis will be given to further reduce the dependency on petroleum products by increasing the use of alternative fuels. In ensuring efficient utilisation of energy resources and minimisation of wastage, the focus will be on energy efficiency initiatives, particularly in the industrial, transport and commercial sectors as well as in government buildings.

In terms of priority, special attention ought to be given to the most energy-consuming sector of the economy, that is, the “transport sector”. In 2005, the transport sector was the largest consumer of energy, accounting for 40.5 per cent of the total final commercial energy demand[9]. This was followed by the industrial sector at 38.6 per cent and the residential and commercial sector at 13.1 per cent. By 2010, the transport sector’s share would increase the most, by another 0.6 per cent, to 41.1 per cent.

To regulate the demand of energy from the transport sector is beyond the purview of the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology, and Water. It rests with the whole Government of Malaysia itself on the question of balancing the needs of maintaining the current fuel-subsidies for transport and related-sectors and that of for energy conservation and efficiency.

Nonetheless, there are hidden subsidies or “barriers” within the transport sector itself, which is not only inefficient but also unbalanced. More goods and services are transported by roads and highways than by waters and rails. Increasingly greater number of commuters rely more on their private motor-vehicles than on public transport: buses, commuter trains, and LRTs.

Another source of energy-wastage is traffic congestion not only due to heavy traffic at road and street-intersections but also due to road-hogging and “zig-zagging” by somewhat inconsiderate drivers. At major intersections, there is a pressing need to build more flyovers or underpasses. Thus, more investments ought to be given to such infrastructure than by widening the existing roads approaching to these usually congested junctions.

Nonetheless, over the major roads and toll-highways, serious consideration should be given by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water to the prospects of harnessing both rain-water and solar-wind energy. Furthermore, the eventual structure with solar-panels would also provide some sun-shade to motorists who might opt not to switch on their car-air conditioning to save some fuel.

Under the existing energy-policy framework, it is still far from being conducive for the other sectors, namely, the manufacturing, commercial, and residential to switch their dependency from fossil-fuel based energy and electricity to the renewables, namely, solar-wind, and biogas. However, with access to attractive financing and with the right incentives, it would make more “sense” and “cents” to install solar panels, wind-turbines, or waste-to-biogas generators, at home and offices, than “to put money in bank saving accounts”.

It is not the question of the lack of knowledge, skills, and technologies for Malaysia to be so far behind in realizing a greater share of its energy mix to renewable energy; it is the question of having to introduce the appropriate legal and policy framework in place and to remove or phase out subsidies in this area that inhibit sustainable development. “Legislation does provide a framework for implementation and creates a market. For example, a renewable portfolio standard can set a target for 5 per cent of renewable power by 2030. The legislation also have to be stable for a long enough period of time to give investors the confidence to invest. Once the market is created, we need incentives like a feed-in tariff for a fixed number of years to encourage investment. This tariff should be substantial enough for investors make reasonable return from renewable projects,” said Mr Nguyen Xuan Thang, GE-Vietnam Executive[10].

“The German Renewable Energy Sources Act is regarded as the world‘s most successful law for the introduction of renewable energies in the power sector. Apart from the power sector, the Act also applies to the heating sector – as a result of its use of waste heat emitted during the generation of power from bioenergies and geothermal energy. The Renewable Energy Sources Act has given Germany a large internal market and brought about a tumultuous series of innovative developments in wind energy, photovoltaics, biogas, wood-generated electricity and vegetable oil-fired district heating plants. In the years to come, similar successes are to be expected in the generation of power from deep geothermal energy, while marine energies will also have a limited impact at a later date. Traditional hydropower has also benefited from the Renewable Energy Sources Act. The Renewable Energy Sources Act has created more than 150,000 new jobs in Germany without any commitment of taxpayer’s money. In total, more than 250,000 jobs have been created in the renewable energies industry. This is particularly significant at a time when stimulus packages are being adopted in response to the world recession. The Renewable Energy Sources Act is a stimulus package that does not involve new public borrowing! It creates incentives for private investment, above all with money from civil society, but also with money from financial investors. The costs for the market introduction of renewable energies have been considerably lower than in other countries. For instance, the average cost for the generation of power from wind energy in Germany is approximately 8 euro cents per kilowatt hour, compared with approximately 14 euro cents per kilowatt hour in the UK, which has far more wind. At the same time, the expenditure avoided in 2008 thanks to the reduced amounts of fossil and nuclear fuels that had to be purchased and the external costs that were avoided amounted to a total of 17 billion euros – several times the additional costs for the generation of power of approximately 3.2 billion euros, according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Many observers have been astonished by this development, which has become possible thanks to the principle of cost-covering feed-in tariff. The feed-in tariff provided for in the Renewable Energy Sources Act is oriented consistently towards the minimum economic requirements of investors in the generation of power from renewable energies. As a rule, returns of 7% are taken as the basis for the calculations. It is true that there are now a great many copies of the successful German legislation. But only a very few have been successful over the long term. The basic fact that a certain feed-in tariff is fixed by law is not by any means a guarantee for the functioning market introduction of renewable energies. There are a great many details that have to be right if the desired momentum towards the industrial development of renewable energies is to arise.
Of course, as well as functioning legislation on feed-in tariff further statutory parameters have to be laid down. They should relate, above all, to the approach taken to the approval of plants for the generation of power from renewable energies. All over the world, there are barriers of various heights to the approval of renewable energies. Lowering these barriers to approval is just as indispensable.”[11]

In short, a more integrated planning approach should be undertaken to enhance sustainable
development of the energy sector. The newly aligned Ministry for Energy and Green Technology has to be the “champion” for Malaysia to move forward toward “energy with low impact on carbon” and future “sustainability”.

Danang, Viet Nam,
July 1, 2009

[1] Former Director-General, Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia (1990-95). Dato’ Bakar is a mechanical engineer by profession (www.akademisains.gov.my), environmental scientist by specialization (www.envirolift.com.my), and a maritime expert by current pre-occupation (www.un.org/depts/los). He can be reached by e-mail: bakar.jaafar@gmail.com

[2] http://www.kttha.gov.my/bm/index.asp 29 June 2009
[3] http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/dsd_aofw_ene/ene_index.shtml 29 June 2009
[4] This refers to rural housing units served as a percentage of total rural housing units.
[5] William F Cottrell (1955). Energy and society: The relation between energy, social changes, and economic development. McGraw-Hill.
[6] http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/marine/articles/37091.aspx June 1, 2009
[7] http://www.energysavers.gov/renewable_energy/ocean/index.cfm/mytopic=50010 10 April 2009 7:07 pm

[8] http://www.energysavers.gov/renewable_energy/ocean/index.cfm/mytopic=50010 10 April 2009 7:07 pm
[9] Ninth Malaysia Plan (2005-2010). Chapter 19. p. 395.
[10] Song Ngoc “Renewable energy sector is heating up,” Vietnam Investment Review, June 29-July 5, 2009. P. 9.
[11] Hans-Josef Fell, Member of the German Bundestag, Spokesperson on Energy and Technology Policy ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Vice President EUROSOLAR, “Feed-in Tariff for Renewable Energies: An Effective Stimulus Package without New Public Borrowing”, March 2009.

Sunday, July 12, 2009



by Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar[1]

Daddy “Happy 34th Birthday!”
Hajar “Daddy, do you have a secret child who turns thirty four today that I’m not aware of.”
Daddy “Jat! You know me … I have always been open and transparent!”
Hajar “So who is this other not secret child that you have? Do we share a mother?”
Daddy “No. His wife does!”
Hajar , from DownUnder, went panic, and called her Daddy in Malaysia immediately : “Daddy … are you serious!?”
The truth of the matter was that it was the birthday of Hajar’s brother-in-law, Hafiz, who is married to Hajar’s eldest sister, Mona.
Their Dad is Abu Bakar Jaafar who sits on the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (

May 13, 2009 was also the deadline for the majority of States Parties to the UNCLOS of 1982 to make their respective submissions, either unilaterally or jointly, through the UN Secretary-General to the Commission.

By this date, some 69 countries filed claims to oceanic territories along their coast for an area extending 200 nautical miles from shore, said Hariharan Pakshi Rajan, Secretary of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

He said a list of countries, and their submission papers, had been posted on the website of the Commission’s secretariat. There were 50 completed submissions and 39 preliminary submissions, which States submitted individually or jointly with others.

Mr. Rajan explained that, under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, coastal States could stake a claim to their part of the continental shelf -- which is the natural prolongation of their territory into the sea. If that area went past 200 nautical miles, States must submit data proving that it was, in fact, an extension of their territory, before they could take steps to establish that claim legally. They must submit scientific evidence to a body of 21 experts in geology, geophysics and hydrography, who determined the validity of their claims.

“Scientifically, the natural prolongation of the land under the territory can go up to the end of the continental margin, but, legally, it has to be delineated. That’s where the role of the Convention comes into being, that’s where the role of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is”, he explained.

In August, the Commission would hear oral presentations from 29 countries, while seven others had been invited to make presentations in April 2010, he said. The Commission would then break into smaller subcommissions of seven experts to examine each case in detail. Two countries were already expected to appear before their respective subcommissions soon.

The Commission’s task was not to prove sovereignty, he stressed, but to show actual prolongation of underwater territory beyond 200 nautical miles, which implied that countries were entitled to the resources found there. “In the continental shelf, States have a right to the resources. It is not an extension of sovereignty; it is only an extension of sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting its resources”, he said, adding later that areas outside the delineated zone were considered international areas governed by the International Seabed Authority.

Just because a country submitted its claim ahead of other countries did not mean its claim was reinforced, he added. Rather, verified submissions would be used as a basis for drawing their maritime boundaries in negotiation with other States. The Commission was the only body under the Convention that could verify such data.

Asked how long it would take to process all the claims, Mr. Rajan said that was a matter of serious concern. “We’re trying to see how many more subcommissions could meet and what kind of a timeframe it would be. It all depends on the availability of the members. Members are involved in more than one subcommission.”

Two years ago, the Chairman of the Commission said it might take by 2035 to review all the claims, which Mr. Rajan said could change if more subcommissions were authorized, or if they gained access to state-of-the-art equipment. “Members of the Commission are working in their individual capacity as experts back home or elsewhere. The number of days that they spend in New York twice a year is very large”, he said, explaining that the experts met at numerous intersessional meetings and at laboratories of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

The information submitted by States sometimes contained sensitive information, he said, and meetings between the Commission and those States were held in private. But once an executive summary of the claim was published by the Commission, there was always a possibility for other States to react and respond.

Mr. Rajan stressed that the Commission was governed by strict rules of procedure when examining scientific evidence, and was not designed as a tribunal to arbitrate between parties in cases of dispute.

One reporter asked about a joint filing by Somalia and Kenya, with help from Denmark, suggesting the possibility of abuse by developed countries interested in extracting oil in a developing country’s territory. Mr. Rajan said that the Convention contained provisions allowing coastal States to seek technical advice from any party. States could also draw from a special trust fund established by the United Nations to complete their submissions. The fund could not be used to conduct ocean surveys or to collect data, but only to prepare a written submission following the establishment of entitlement.

Asked to comment on early claims by Arctic States, Mr. Rajan stressed the Commission’s neutral stance towards issues of sovereignty, saying that the decision to “delimit” the territory of a country would be agreed by States themselves.

So far, Denmark had filed a claim with respect to the Faroe Islands. Russia had submitted its claim in 2001, but was asked to provide additional data.

The United Kingdom and Argentina had submitted claims with respect to the continental shelf around the Falkland Islands, but Mr. Rajan said that the Commission had rules preventing it from examining claims for territories under dispute. However, if disputing parties resolved their differences, the Commission would consider their submissions without prejudice to future border discussions.

Under the Convention, States must submit their claim within 10 years from the Convention’s entry into force, in November 1994, he explained. But the adoption of a set of scientific and technical guidelines, on 13 May 1999 – 10 years ago today -- had complicated matters.

“States that had ratified the Convention before that date had not had the benefit of those guidelines”, said Mr. Rajan. For those States, the Conference of States Parties decided that the 10-year period would begin on 13 May 1999.

Mr. Rajan said that, last year, States parties had decided to give leeway to States unable to meet the 13 May 2009 deadline, allowing them instead to submit preliminary information explaining the status of their claims and when they could be expected to complete their submission.

Malaysia and Viet Nam have made their joint submission in respect of the southern part of the South China Sea, one week before the deadline, that was on 6 May 2009, but it is queued behind 32 other earlier submissions made by other coastal States Parties to the Convention.

(http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2009/090513_Sea.doc.htm 18 May 2009)

Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam
May 26, 2009

[1] Dato’ Bakar is The Adviser to the National Committee on Continental Shelf, Secretariat to the National Security Council, Prime Minister’s Department, Putrajaya, Malaysia. He is also an Elected-Member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (1997-2002)(2002-2007)(2007-2012)

Saturday, May 30, 2009



Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaaar[1]

By May 13, 2009, about 50 over countries[2] which have become Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) before May 13, 1999 have to make their respective submissions through the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), should they have decided to extend the outer limits of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles (M) from the baselines from which the breadth of their territorial seas are measured. As at March 30, 2009, a total of 18 submissions have been made by the following countries (in the order of submission): Russian Federation (25 December 2001), Brazil (17 May 2004), Australia (15 November 2004), Ireland (25 May 2005), New Zealand (19 April 2006), France-Ireland-Spain-the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (FISU)(19 May 2006), Norway (27 November 2006), France (French Guiana and New Caledonia) (22 May 2007), Mexico (13 December 2007), Barbados (8 May 2008), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Ascension Island) (9 May 2008), Indonesia (West Sumatra)(16 June 2008), Japan (12 November 2008), Mauritius-Seychelles (1 December 2008), Suriname (5 December 2008), Myanmar (16 December 2008), France (French Antilles and the Kerguelen Islands) (5 February 2009), and Yemen (20 March 2009).[3]
By the 23rd Session of the Commission, over the period March 2-April 9, 2009, the first six submissions by the said coastal States have received their respective recommendations of the CLCS, for these coastal States to make further revisions to their own submissions, in the case of the Russian Federation and Brazil, and for the next four, to proceed either with the necessary delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf, or with the delimitation of such limits with their opposite or adjacent coastal States. According to Article 76 (8) of the Convention, “[t]he limits of the shelf established by a coastal State on the basis these recommendations shall be final and binding.”
“On 9 April 2008, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf adopted recommendations confirming Australia’s entitlement to a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline (extended continental shelf) of some 2.56 million square kilometers. This is an area slightly larger than the land area of Western Australia and one-third the size of the Australian continent.”[4] Thus, Australia is the first country to be in a position to proclaim the outer limits of its continental shelf on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission.
The next country to be a similar position is New Zealand which has received its Recommendations from the Commission on 22 August 2008. “New Zealand's claim over 1.7 million square kilometres of seabed has been confirmed by a United Nations commission, Prime Minister Helen Clark says. Miss Clark says the continental shelf is the area of seabed outside New Zealand's existing 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Recognition of the new continental shelf boundaries will enable New Zealand to exercise its rights to the area, including exploiting resources such as minerals and petroleum. Miss Clark says New Zealand's submission to the UN was the result of a $44 million project carried out by officials and scientists. The new boundary will be binding on other countries, although the Government will negotiate with Fiji and Tonga on the continental shelf north of New Zealand.”[5] “It is in addition to the approximately four million square kilometres of seabed in the New Zealand EEZ. The extended continental shelf is about six times New Zealand’s total land area (about 270,000 square kilometres).”[6] Thus, the ratio of the New Zealand’s total maritime jurisdictions over its land territories is at least about 21:1.
Other countries which have received similar recommendations from the Commission are Ireland (on 7 September 2006 for its partial submission in respect of the area of the Porcupine Bay), France-Ireland-Spain-the United Kingdom of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland for their Joint Submission in respect of the area of the Celtic Sea and the Bay of Biscay) (on 24 March 2009), Norway (on 27 March 2009), and Mexico (on 31 March 2009 for its partial submission in respect of the area in the Gulf of Mexico [“Western Polygon”]).
The first two countries which have made their respective submissions to the Commission, namely, Russian Federation and Brazil, are yet to be in a position to make their respective proclamation over the entitlement to their respective extended continental shelves, though these two wide-margin countries have received their respective recommendations from the Commission on 27 June 2002 and 4 April 2007 respectively.
In the case of the Russian Federation, four areas relating to the continental shelf extending beyond 200 nautical miles were contained in its submission to the Commission: the Barents Sea, the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Central Arctic Ocean.
In respect of the areas of the Barents and Bering seas, the Commission recommended to the Russian Federation, upon entry into force of the maritime boundary delimitation agreements with Norway in the Barents Sea, and with the United States of America in the Bering Sea, to transmit to the Commission the charts and coordinates of the delimitation lines as they would represent the outer limits of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation extending beyond 200 nautical miles in the Barents Sea and the Bering Sea respectively.

However, regarding the Sea of Okhotsk, the Commission recommended to the Russian Federation to make a well-documented partial submission for its extended continental shelf in the northern part of that sea. The Commission stated that this partial submission shall not prejudice questions relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States in the south for which a submission might subsequently be made, notwithstanding the provisions regarding the 10-year time limit established by article 4 of annex II to the Convention. In order to make this partial submission, the Commission also recommended to the Russian Federation to make its best efforts to effect an agreement with Japan in accordance with paragraph 4 of annex I to the Rules of Procedure of the Commission.

As regards the Central Arctic Ocean, the Commission recommended that the Russian Federation make a revised submission in respect of its extended continental shelf in that area based on the findings contained in the recommendations.[7]

In the case of Brazil, it is still in the process of seeking further clarifications on the recommendations made by the Commission.

Under the said international law, a coastal State has exclusive rights only over the non-living resources (e.g. petroleum and minerals) and sedimentary species (e.g. oysters and sponges) of the seabed that comprises the submerged prolongation of its landmass (known as the “continental shelf”). These rights exist by virtue of the State’s sovereignty over its land territory. However, a proportion of the revenue from the exploration and exploitation of the resources of the continental shelf outside the 200 nautical mile limit, that is up to a maximum of 7% the net proceeds, must be paid to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for distribution to developing States.
On living resources, coastal States do not have any special rights to, including rights over fisheries in, the water column beyond the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and above their respective extended continental shelves, or any control over other activities such as shipping and navigation in these areas of high seas.
Nonetheless, under article 246 of the UNCLOS, coastal States could exercise their rights to regulate any activity relating to marine scientific research in the extended continental shelf areas, should they designate the areas under their respective plans to explore and exploit the natural resources therein.
The areas beyond any national maritime jurisdictions would belong to the global commons; the net proceeds from any exploration and exploitation of the non-living resources would go to the ISBA which is entrusted to manage the Common Heritage of Mankind Fund.
The living resources beyond the national jurisdictions would continue to be up for grab!

New York City

31 March 2009
[1] Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar is Adviser, National Committee on Continental Shelf (since 2001), Secretariat to National Security Council, Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia; and Elected-Member of the UNCLOS Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) (1997-2002)(2002-2007)(2007-2012). The views expressed herein are personal, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Department nor that of the Commission. He can be reached by e-mail: bakar.jaafar@gmail.com
[2] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Meeting of States Parties, Fifteenth Meeting, New York, 16-24 June 2005.
Report of the fifteenth Meeting of States Parties, 25 July 2005 (SPLOS/135) http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/439/16/PDF/N0543916.pdf?OpenElement
[3] http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm, 31 March 2009
[4] Australia, Geoscience. AUSGEO News, Issue 93 March 2009. 2p.
[5] http://newszealand.blogspot.com/2008/09/un-recognises-nz-continental-shelf.html. March 31, 2009
[6] http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Media-and-publications/Features/990-NZ-extended-seabed-claim.php. March 31, 2009
[7] United Nations General Assembly , 8October 2002, Fifty-seventh session, Agenda item 25 (a), Oceans and the law of the sea, A/57/57/Add.1 (http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/629/28/PDF/N0262928.pdf?OpenElement, para 21, March 31, 2009)

Sunday, April 12, 2009



by Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar

During the past five Year Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), “[e]fficient utilization of energy resources as well as the use of alternative fuels, particularly renewable energy was encouraged.” During the current 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), “the energy sector will further enhance its role as an enabler towards strengthening economic growth. In this regard, the sources of fuel
will be diversified through greater utilization of renewable energy. Emphasis will be given to further reduce the dependency on petroleum products by increasing the use of alternative fuels. In ensuring efficient utilization of energy resources and minimization of wastage, the focus will be on energy efficiency initiatives, particularly in the industrial, transport and commercial sectors as well as in government buildings.”[1] In short, energy efficiency is a prerequisite to the development and utilization of sustainable energy from renewable sources.

To date, the current Plan has covered the only following sources of renewable energy (RE), namely, hydropower, biomass, and solar energy. “By 2010, RE is expected to contribute 350 MW … to a total energy supply of 3,128 peta Joule (PJ) or to help meet a peak demand for electricity reaching 20,087 MW,”[2] that is less than 1.7 per cent of the total generation. This percentage will still be far short of the expected pattern, based on the global primary energy supply mix of 24.3 per cent renewable by 2020: which consists of plantation biomass (13.0 per cent), organic wastes (6.6 per cent), hydro (3.9 per cent), solar and wind energy (0.8 per cent). On the other hand, the non-renewables will still be dominant sources of energy, that is, 75.7 per cent consisting of natural gas (29.1 per cent), oil (29.0 per cent), coal (12.7 per cent), and nuclear (4.9 per cent).[3]

Thus, other sources of renewable energy which ought to be featured in the forthcoming 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015) are: energy from organic waste including solid waste, tide and tidal energy, wave energy, wind energy, and ocean thermal energy off the North Borneo (Sabah) Trough.

By 2010, it is estimated that the total amount of solid waste generated by the projected population of Malaysia of almost 29 million is 23,200 tonnes per day[4]. About 45 per cent of the waste generated in Malaysia is food waste which could be sorted at source, collected, and processed by anaerobic digestion to generate methane gas or compressed natural gas as fuel. The composition of the remaining waste that contains “some energy value” is as follows: plastic (24 per cent) and paper (7 per cent). Thus, about 75 per cent of the so-called “organic” waste has the total potential of generating 1,770 MW of power.[5]

Other type of organic waste is that of palm oil mill effluent (POME) which could potentially be harnessed to generate a total of 700 MW power from the conversion of the waste to gaseous methane, by anaerobic generation, from over 400 mills throughout the country. For instance, a typical palm oil mill with capacity of processing 60 tonnes per hour of fresh-fruit bunches (FFB) produces 237,000 cubic metre per year of POME, from which 6,600,000 cubic metre of biogas per year could be produced, and converted, to generate about 1.82 MW of power. This potential does not include the combustion of other biomass, namely, palm fronds, palm trunks, empty fruit bunches (EFB), meso-carp fibres, and shells, into electricity, since these “so-called waste” have competing demands as “materials” for agriculture and other industries.

Along the long shorelines facing the open seas, and at sea, Malaysia has yet to exploit the potential of wind energy, tide and tidal energy, and ocean thermal energy[6].

Wind energy is extracted from wind passing through a turbine, introduced into the traditional windmill design, which has become a power source for electricity generation. A wind turbine can generate from 30 kW of power with swept blade diameter of 10 metres to 3-4 MW with swept diameter of 100 metres.

Tide and tidal energy is the energy extracted from the rise and fall of tides, that is a result of tidal range. The total peak power available from tidal generation at optimum sites throughout the world is estimated to be about 100,000 MW. One major installation at La Rance, Britanny, France has been realized. With 10 square km of surface area of tidal basin, 10 metre of tidal range, the average power that could be generated is about 17 MW.

As highlighted in the February issue of MILENIA Muslim, Malaysia should be on the global map of world’s “ocean thermal energy” resources.

In summary, in order to close the gap that exists between the enormous potential of renewables and their current relatively low market share in energy supply and consumption, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has been founded in Bonn, Germany on 26 January 2009 (http://www.irena.org/). It is the first international organization to focus exclusively on the issue of renewable energies, addressing both the industrialized and the developing world. Its major functions will be to advise its members on creating the right frameworks, building capacity, and improving financing and the transfer of technology and know-how for renewable energies.

Again Malaysia, though its representative did participate at the Preparatory Conference in Madrid on 10-11 April 2008, was not a Signatory State nor in attendance at the Founding Conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency in Bonn in January this year. Over 120 official delegations from across the world attended the founding Conference, and a total of 75 nations, a broad cross-section of developing and industrialized countries, signed the Agency’s Statute.

The founding of IRENA is a key milestone on the road towards a future-oriented energy supply that is secured, reliable, affordable, green, clean, and sustainable. Thus, Malaysia must demonstrate its commitment towards these goals for its sustainability and prosperity.

It is, thus, high time for Malaysia to create its own “National Renewable Energy Agency (NERA)”.

Kandang, Melaka
6 February 2009

Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar, P.Eng., FIEM, FASc, received his first degree with honours in Engineering from the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia in 1972/3, and a Mechanical Engineer by profession (BEM: 12555), Master of Environmental Science (Miami) on the application of solar energy technology and hydrogen for pollution control in 1976, and PhD (Hawaii) in Marine Geography in 1984.

[1] Ninth Malaysia Plan (2005-2010). Economic Planning Unit. p.393 (http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/english/Chapter19.pdf, 1 February 2009)
[2] Ibid, p. 403.
[3] Jose Goldemberg et al (1988). Energy for Sustainable World. New Delhi: Wiley Eastern Ltd. p.489

[4] It is based on the average generation of waste at 0.8 kg per capita per day.
[5] This is based on refuse with an average heating value of 8.8 MJ/kg (Goldemberg et al (1988: 488))
[6] The treatment of this source of renewable energy has been covered in the February 2009 issue of MILENIA Muslim.

Saturday, March 7, 2009



Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar[1]

Malaysia is not yet on any global map showing the areas with the potential of generating ocean-thermal energy. However, with the completion of a recent marine survey in the South China Sea during the period 2006-08 (MyMRS)[2], it has been confirmed that indeed the temperature at the bottom of the North-Borneo Trough (and also known as “Sabah Tough”) at a water depth of 2900 metres (m) is about 3 degree Celsius (º C), compared to that of the surface at about 29º C. According to the popular scientific literature, any area with such a temperature-differential of over 22º C has the potential generating not only renewable energy but also freshwater[3].

Nonetheless, the latest technology using a highly efficient cycle called "Uehara Cycle” which has been developed by Dr Haruo Uehara, a former President of Saga University, can generate electricity with temperature difference of only 15º C and also desalinate seawater with 5º C temperature difference. As long as there is temperature difference, power generation and desalination are possible regardless whether or not the site is within tropical or subtropical region. That also implies that “waste heat” from industries can be recovered as energy source. This technology is called Discharged Thermal Energy Conversion (DTEC). DTEC system has been under operation at oil refineries in Chiba Prefecture[4].

Most of the planet, over 70 per cent of its surface, is covered by the oceans and their adjoining seas, and they absorb a staggering amount of energy from the Sun each day. Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, taps into this energy to produce electricity.

Ocean thermal energy conversion relies on the fact that water near the surface is heated by sunlight while seawater deep in the dark is much colder. OTEC plants use warm surface water to heat ammonia or some other fluid that boils at a low temperature. The resulting gas is used to drive turbines that produce electricity. The gas is then cooled by cold water pumped up from the ocean depths and the resulting fluid is recycled to help generate power[5].

In other words “OTEC is a power plant to use warm surface seawater to evaporate working fluid of ammonia-water, and then the ammonia vapor drives turbines to generate electricity. The ammonia vapor is cooled by cold deep seawater to be condensed and the re-liquefied ammonia-water is recycled as the working fluid.”[6]

In fact, the history of this technology is not that new; the basic of which was introduced by a French scientist Mr. A. D'Arsonval in 1881, over a century ago. Since then, there had been hardly any development or interest until the oil crisis in 1970s. Particularly, researchers in Japan, and in the USA as well, were strongly motivated for in-depth study of OTEC. The said professor at Saga University of Japan started in 1973 his OTEC study and since then, his study team has been tackling all sorts of theme needed for the realization of a commercial OTEC plant. They have built so far 11 experimental plants, acquired the necessary technical data and know-how, and have registered a number of patents both in Japan and in other countries.Xenesys Inc., Ltd., Japan, a company undertaking the commercialization of the Saga University's OTEC study, also took part in the research and development works at the university and was granted in January 2000 by the Japanese Ministry of Education to acquire all patents held by Saga University.

Among many events in the short history of the technology development is the experimental 1MW project by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennnai, India, that is worthy of special mention from the point of view of its output capacity. The plant, which has been put into operation since mid 2001, has been a stepping stone for a commercial use of OTEC: Prior to this, Saga University succeeded with 1 kW experimental plant in 1977; The Mini-OTEC project by USA was a success with 50kW gross power in 1979; Tokyo Electric Co., and its subsidiary undertook successful experiment of a 120 kW OTEC in the Republic of Nauru 1981; Kyushu Electric Co., of Japan succeeded with their 50kW OTEC in Tokunoshima island in 1982; A 75 kW experimental OTEC plant was installed at Saga University in 1985; USA completed their 210kW open cycle OTEC plant off coast of Kona,Hawaii, in 1993; and Saga University built another experimental 4.5 kW OTEC plant with a newly invented cycle in 1994.[7]

Further development in Japan since 2001 has been the completion in 2002 of Enzan Facility at Enzan City, Yamanashi Prefecture which is equipped with fully automated pressing and welding lines for the production of heat plate exchangers, the key device for the OTEC, thermal energy, and seawater desalination systems; the establishment in 2003 of the Institute of Ocean Energy, Saga University (IOES) with the following activities: basic experiment facility for 30kW OTEC power plant utilizing “Uehara Cycle”; basic experiment facility for seawater desalination system utilizing spray-flash evaporation method (10tonne/day); basic experiment facility for production and storage of hydrogen; basic experiment facility for extraction of lithium from deep seawater; and simulation experiment facility for environmental impact study of deep seawater; and in 2004, the completion of the basic design of power generation system for DTEC to 4,000kW in winter, (and 3,300kW in summer), which is a joint research project undertaken by Chiyoda Corporation, Fuji Oil Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., with the support of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and Sodegaura Oil Refinery of Fuji Oil Co. Ltd, Japan.

What’s the potential in Malaysia, off the Sabah Trough? Based more on the advanced “Uehara Cycle”, than on the classic Rankine Cycle, 1 MW of power could be generated by “pumping” 1.5 cubic metre of “cold water” from a certain depth per second. The size of the Trough is estimated to be about 60 km in width and 100 km in length with the depth of 2500 metres on average. Thus, the amount of energy that could be generated until eternity is well above 50,000 MW, that is about 25 times the size of the 2100 MW of the coal-fired power plant of TNB Janamanjung, in Lumut, Perak, or a challenging alternative nuclear power plant of similar size.

OTEC will be worth over US $50 billion, in terms of the size of the capital required, for its total energy development alone.

What will it take for Malaysia to move forward toward such a sustainable energy future? It would not be any difference from a standard approach that ought to be in place: legal and policy framework with strong political commitment, the necessary institutional arrangement and alignment, and of course, finance. The said technology will follow through … InsyaAllah, God willing!

Penaga, Seberang Prai
1 January 2009

[1] Former Director-General, Department of Environment Malaysia (1990-1995), Advisor to Malaysia National Committee on Continental Shelf, and Elected-Member of the UN CLOS Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (since 1997) (www.un.org/clcs)
[2] The survey has been conducted under the auspices of the Malaysian National Committee on Continental Shelf, Secretariat to the National Security Council, Prime Minister’s Department with the Technical Support of PETRONAS, Department of Survey and National Mapping Malaysia, the Hydrography Directorate of Royal Malaysian Navy, and the Department of GeoSciences Malaysia.
[3]http://www.nrel.gov/otec/markets.html; http://www.nrel.gov/otec/what.html
[4] www. http://www.xenesys.com/english/otec/area.html
[5] http://coolsciencenews.blogspot.com/2008/12/energy-debates-ocean-thermal-energy.html
[6] Nihon Keizai Shimbun, “Xenesys gets rolling for commercialization of its OTEC plant in Tahiti”, October 18, 2008.
[7] http://www.xenesys.com/english/otec/history.html

Monday, January 26, 2009




Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar

The policy that requires the subjects of science and mathematics be taught in English in all national-type schools has been well understood by the few involved in decision-making, but misunderstood by many, including those not in favour of such a policy. The proponents of the policy have been arguing inter alia that the future of Malaysia, in order to be competitive, will also rest with the competency of its citizens in keeping up with the rapid progress in science and technology that is largely communicated in English. It is also recognized that much of the world’s literature especially those relating to science and technology is indeed in English.

At least there is one convincing counter-argument not in support of the said policy, put forth by Prof Dr Shahrir Mohd Zin, is that in order to excel in the subject of mathematics particularly, it is best taught in the language of one’s mother tongue. This subject demands not so much one’s competency in language but more in thought-processes that are easily understood by one’s naturally-born instinctive images. For instance, according to Prof Shahrir, over 90 per cent of Nobel Laureates in Physics and Chemistry are not English-native speakers.

However, some confusion arises at least from the following questions:

· Are the subjects of “science and mathematics” are best taught in English in order to improve one’s competency in English?
· Should the subject of “history” or “general studies” be taught in English instead?

Explained by Tan Sri Datuk Dr Wan Zahid Nordin that “it is not quite true that the subjects of science and mathematics be taught in English, in order to improve one’s competency in English; actually, it is to ensure that the same scientific terms or mathematical expressions in English, not the translations thereof, be taught and used in all type-schools, as such there shall be no difficulties, or confusion arising from using such terms, whenever one is gaining access to the widely available scientific and technical literature in English. That would also save all the trouble of translating the original terms in English into Bahasa Malaysia.”

The writer would argue that if one were to improve one’s competency in English, either the subject of “history” be taught in English or specifically the subject of “creative writing in English” be introduced in all national-type schools. In history, one learns to “describe events, people, and places”, “to analyse the periods of such events”, “to draw lessons learnt”, “to state one’s position relating to such events”, and “to argue what the future events would hold”.

The writer would also argue that it is not so much one’s competency in a language that would bring about excellence; it is the quality of “thinking”. One might try to find an excuse for not having presented a good report in English by saying that his “English is poor!” The truth was his “Bahasa Malaysia was worse than his English!”

The trouble with formal education in Malaysia, the writer would argue that, too much emphasis has been given on the formal aspects of education, that is, the first three Rs: Reading, aRithmetic, and wRiting, but very little attention devoted to the non-formal aspects, that is, the second set of three Rs: obseRvation, Reasoning, and oRal presentation. For instance, the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong seemed to have missed the benefits of the first three Rs, but he had acquired his fame through excellence by having possessed the second set of 3Rs with high-skills, positive attitude, and extreme-aptitude. The other well-known Malaysian, none other than LAT, did admit that “arithmetic” was not his “best” subject. Nonetheless, with the power of his sharp-observation and strong reasoning, he has managed to express himself so well, not in person in the public nor in “normal writing”, but in quick-sketches that capture the imagination of most Malaysians, and residents of Malaysia alike, from all walks of life.

The challenge before the country is as much to attract the “best” back to teaching in schools, colleges, and in universities as to introduce multi-lingualism in all national-type schools, that is, mandatory teaching of four important languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, and Arabic (for Muslims), Tamil (for Hindus), or any other UN languages (French, Russian, and Spanish) (for others too). In overcoming such a challenge, InsyaAllah, Malaysia would have a large citizenary who ought to be enlightened by the need for change, not only for the sake of change, but would demand as much for themselves as they would do for others.

5 November 2008