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Sarawak aims to be ‘powerhouse’ of S-E Asia

Sarawak aims to be ‘powerhouse’ of S-E Asia

28 Feb 2022

Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) is working with its Indonesian counterpart on the development of a hydroelectric dam project in northern Kalimantan.

The project will be undertaken via a joint-venture company, according to SEB group chief executive officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili.

If implemented, it would be SEB’s first international project and a significant milestone for it to become a regional powerhouse in South-East Asia, he said.

“Our experience and expertise in renewable hydropower development were crucial to our first international venture,” he added at an SEB event to mark its 100-year of powering Sarawak, here last week.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg graced the event.

Sharbini said SEB has raised its installation power generation capacity by 3.8 times to 5,233MW in the last decade, with large hydropower contributing 3,452MW to the total capacity. SEB owns the 2,400MW Bakun, 944MW Murum and 108MW Batang Ai hydro power plants.

The state utility body is currently constructing the 1,285MW Baleh hydro dam in upper Rajang Basin (where Bakun and Murum dams are located) which is expected to come onstream by 2027.

Sharbini said in advancing its regional powerhouse ambition, SEB took the first step in 2016 in driving a transboundry Borneo Grid with the commission of Sarawak’s first interconnection to west Kalimantan.

SEB is exporting electricity to west Kalimantan via a 275Kv interconnection.

“This successful implementation led to the identification and possible implementation of other similar bilateral interconnections projects, laying the foundation for an interconnected Borneo and eventually Asean.

“Last year, we signed power exchange and interconnection agreements with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd. We will export 30MW to 50MW to Sabah after the completion of transmission infrastructure in the next few years.

“Sarawak Energy is also progressing talks with Burnei and Singapore. With the strong support of the government of Sarawak, we believe we can ensure that Sarawak becomes the ‘battery of Asean’ with interconnection from Borneo to elsewhere in the region.”

Sharbini said renewable hydropower will continue to be an important capital for a sustainable energy future and SEB aims to increasing the share of renewable and alternative energy in its generation mix.

He said SEB is embarking on its first floating solar farm at the Batang Ai hydropower plant in southern Sarawak, by leveraging on the reservoir’s existing body of water to do so.

“Once commissioned, the 50MW solar farm will offset around 52 kilotonnes of carbon emissions annually, further decarbonising Sarawak’s power system,” he added.

By 2030,SEB plans to add about 5% solar energy into its generation mix.

Sharbini said with renewable energy identified as a key enabler of its decarbonising strategy, SEB’s efforts are focussed on maintaining 60% renewable energy capacity mix by 2030, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 600,000 tonnes per annum through electric vehicles and achieving more than 15% income from foreign markets in line with its South-East Asia renewable energy powerhouse ambitions.

He said these targets are supported by five initiatives,namely:

> Increasing private sector participation in solar, mini hydro,oil palm and biomass projects;

> Stimulating Sarawak’s hydrogen economy via exports, with Sarawak serving as the hub for hydrogen value chain;

> Promoting net metering for domestic,commercial and industrial energy generation;

> Enhancing power export to increase interconnectivity within the region, and

> Encouraging electric vehicle usage to reduce carbon emissions and decarbonise the transport sector.

SEB, which has been tasked by the state governrnent to sprearhead Sarawak’s green hydrogen agenda, has commissioned South-East Asia’s first integrated hydrogen production plant and refuelling station here.

Commenting on the growth that SEB has achieved especially in the last decade, Sharbini said it has increased its annual revenue by 3.6 times to hit the RM5bil mark and has doubled its workforce to 5,400 from 2,500.

SEB has increased Sarawak’s rural electrification rate from 56% in 2009 to 96.5% in 2021.

“We are Malaysia’s largest renewable energy developer.

“As of last year, we have 1,800 bumiputra vendors and contractors who are offering various services to Sarawak Energy.” he added.

Source: The Star

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