Utility company supports Sarawak’s vision to reduce reliance on fossil fuel and other nonrenewable resources
Sarawak Energy is looking into the opportunities to commercialise low-carbon solutions, including clean energy technologies.
The strategic pivot to hydropower about a decade ago has decreased Sarawak’s carbon intensity for power generation by 68 per cent from 2011 to 2019.
Group CEO Datu Sharbini Suhaili said that building upon the proven success of its renewable energy development strategy, Sarawak Energy was supporting the Sarawak gvernment’s Green Energy Agenda in the development of a low carbon economy and greener transportation system.
Sarawak Energy aims to maintain at least 60 per cent renewable energy capacity mix in Sarawak by 2030, with large scale solar contributing about four per cent of the generation mix.
“We are developing a 50MW floating solar at the reservoir of our Batang Ai HEP to take advantage of the synergy between hydropower and solar and to increase the proportion of renewable energy in Sarawak’s generation mix.”
Sarawak’s abundant hydropower resources coupled with intermittent renewable energy like floating solar could provide reliable, renewable and affordable energy supply while further contributing to reducing carbon emissions in the region.
The initiative also contributes towards meeting regional renewable energy demand while attracting investments for economic transformation in the Borneo region.
This development is another step closer to realising the Borneo Grid and the development of the ASEAN Grid, as Sarawak’s hydropower resources can serve as the battery bank in the region, allowing for higher penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources.
“The flexibility and storage capacity of hydroelectric plants make them ideal in supporting the use of intermittent sources of renewable energy, as they can store energy and generate when the other renewable resources are not available,” he added.
“We are exploring the production and application of green hydrogen to ensure Sarawak stays at the forefront of renewable energy leadership in this region.”
Hydrogen is recognised globally as a fuel of the future for green energy, although still at the early stages of research and development. It is a versatile molecule that acts as an energy carrier and delivers a cleaner fuel in mobility and a feedstock to industrial chemical processes.
With its abundant renewable hydropower resources, Sarawak can produce green, carbon-neutral hydrogen through electrolysis.
In 2019, Sarawak Energy partnered with Linde Malaysia to commission Southeast Asia’s first Integrated Hydrogen Production Plant and Refueling Station in Kuching.
This project lays the foundation for research into the commercial viability of a hydrogen economy for Sarawak through the production, delivery, storage, and utilisation of this “fuel of the future”, particularly in a tropical environment.
Sarawak Energy is also forging collaborations with international corporations to collaborate on techno-commercial studies, exploring large-scale hydrogen production and export to meet the international clean energy market demand.
The State-owned energy developer is also the first corporation in Sarawak to have both electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in its corporate fleet.
It supports Sarawak’s vision of an emission-free public transportation sector and reducing their reliance on fossil fuel and other non-renewable resources. The company is also sponsoring EV charging stations in the capital city Kuching.
Rural electrification via alternative energy
Working closely with the Sarawak government, the company is also ensuring the rural population enjoys the benefits of its focus on renewable energy and target to achieve full electricity coverage by 2025.
“In addition to grid-connected electricity that is predominantly renewable, Sarawak’s rural communities enjoy off-grid access to alternative renewable energy sources via solar and mini-hydro hybrid plants and solar PV systems,” added Sharbini.
A rural electrification subsidiary arm, Sarawak Energy RES or SERES, was set up to look into Rural Electrification through a suite of grid and off-grid solutions.
“Our explorations and applications of renewable energy include innovative solutions to light up off-grid remote communities using standalone solar or mini-hydro systems until we can achieve grid-connectivity to these distant areas,” Sharbini said.
Renewable energy sources, especially solar and mini-hydro, are harnessed to supply remote rural communities through the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES) for smaller and dispersed rural communities and Hybrid Scheme for larger remote communities.
Renewable Energy Certificate
Sarawak Energy also launched the State’s first REC at the inaugural Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum or SAREF in 2019.
Each certificate represents the environmental benefits of 1MWh of renewable energy generated in the State.
It serves as a mechanism for the credible purchase of sustainable renewable energy generated in Sarawak, allowing corporate participation in sustainable energy development and driving greater integration of sustainable renewable energy into energy supply chains for a cleaner energy landscape in the region.
Sarawak has a comprehensive strategic plan to grow the renewable energy sector, and Sarawak Energy has a catalytic role as Malaysia’s leading renewable energy provider.
All these enable Sarawak to play its role in addressing climate change, in line with the objectives of the Paris Accord as a platform for world economic growth powered by environmentally friendly energy.