• WORLD HYDROPOWER CONGRESS
Sustainability is key to maintaining company’s social licence to operate
Hydropower has paved the way for a sustainable energy future for Sarawak and beyond while also providing the foundation for Sarawak Energy’s aspiration to be the green energy specialist of the region.
Sarawak Energy Group CEO, Datu Sharbini Suhaili, shared an overview of Sarawak’s journey in sustainable hydropower development at the 2021 World Hydropower Conference.
Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the biennial congress provides a platform to share experiences showcasing examples of best practices and the guiding policies and strategies of the industry.
Held virtually for the first time, the theme for this year’s congress is ‘Renewables Working Together in an Interconnected World’, under the patronage of the President of Costa Rica, supported by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).
At the opening plenary session during the launch event, Sharbini joined a panel with distinguished speakers Dr Ashok Khosla (Chairman of the Hydropower Sustainability Council) and Pavan Sukhdev (President of WWF International) to discuss “Challenges and Opportunities of Hydropower Over the Next Decade”.
Sharbini highlighted the benefits of renewable hydropower and how Sarawak Energy champions sustainability in its business and operations.
“Sustainability is key to maintaining our social licence to operate and right to grow, and everyone has a part to play in this. The global energy market is evolving and there has been a clear shift in the demand for renewable energy,” Sharbini said.
“Sarawak Energy is Malaysia’s largest renewable energy provider through a power generation mix that is predominantly hydropower. We aspire to be the green company of the region, sharing our renewable, reliable and affordable hydropower resources with our neighbours.”
During the panel discussion, speakers shared their thoughts on various aspects of hydropower, focusing on sustainability. The discussion provided a balanced overview of the positive and negative impacts of hydropower development, concluding that sustainable hydropower development would result in more benefits, especially with the inclusion of the standards and commitment to the San Jose Declaration.
The Declaration, which delegates will debate throughout the congress, is a manifesto for change to spur more sustainable hydropower developments. It also sets out an ambitious new set of principles and recommendations to guide new hydropower development and advance the sector’s contribution to the clean energy transition.
Renewable energy sector
During the forum, Sharbini highlighted the genuine benefits of hydropower now enjoyed by Sarawak.
“Over a decade ago, the renewable energy sector was identified as one of the sectors to accelerate economic development in Sarawak.
“Hydropower offers the lowest Levelised Cost of Energy or LCOE. It gives Sarawak a sustainable and competitive advantage to transfer the savings to our domestic customers. At the same time we can attract energy intensive industries by offering competitive bulk power tariffs,” added Sharbini.
Sarawak Energy offers the lowest average unsubsidised tariffs in Malaysia and among the lowest in the region. In addition to energy affordability, Sarawak’s focus on hydropower has enhanced sustainability by delivering energy security and reliability and helping to power Sarawak’s ambition to achieve developed status by 2030 through hydro-industrialisation from Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE.
Sharbini also shared how Sarawak Energy is embedding sustainability practices in its business and operations, highlighting that its projects are developed according to the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Sustainability Assessment Protocol.
“We also have an internal Sustainability Division that assesses our hydropower development and operations to improve sustainability strategies and performance.
“Sarawak Energy’s overall corporate sustainability performance is disclosed via our Annual & Sustainability Report, which is guided by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standard as part of our commitment to transparency.”
Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol
Sarawak Energy voluntarily adopted the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. In 2011, it formed a sustainability partnership with the IHA to ensure best hydropower development and operations practices, including social issues related to project-affected communities.
The Group is a sustainability partner and platinum member of the IHA since 2010 and Sharbini was recently re-elected as a member of the IHA Board.
Last year, Sarawak Energy became the first corporation in Malaysia to commit to the “Business Ambition for 1.5° Celsius” under United Nations Global Compact, joining another 249 companies around the world at the time.
Signatories commit to set a science-based emission reduction target across relevant scopes, in line with the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2030.
Aside from the Declaration, the 2021 World Hydropower Congress saw a range of significant announcements and commitments made by and on behalf of the hydropower sector, including the launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, a new Environmental Social, and Governance or ESG certification scheme, as well as recommendations from the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower, co-chaired by the United States Department of Energy.
The congress was on Sept 7-24, 2021, with virtual sessions across multiple time zones bringing discussions to participants worldwide.
Sharbini shared an overview of Sarawak’s journey in sustainable hydropower development at the opening plenary session during the launch of 2021 World Hydropower Conferenc. — @greenXtra