KUCHING (Sept 6): Sarawak can play a central role in progressing regional energy transition by sharing its hydropower-based resources with regional neighbours via interconnections, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Abang Johari believes Sarawak can be the ‘battery’ of the Southeast Asia (Asean) region and interconnections are one of the ways for the region to achieve regional net zero and energy transition targets.
“Sarawak is in a prime central location in Southeast Asia, on Borneo’s northeast coast sharing our borders with Indonesian Kalimantan on the island of Borneo as well as Brunei and the Malaysian state of Sabah.”
The premier said this at the opening ceremony of the Sarawak Energy’s Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum (Saref) 3.0 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here.
As a first step towards realising the Borneo power grid, the state established its first interconnection with West Kalimantan in Indonesia in 2016, he added.
“Building upon this strong relationship established with our Indonesian neighbours, Sarawak Energy is progressing the Mentarang Induk Hydroelectric Project or Mihep in North Kalimantan via a joint venture company with our Indonesian partners.”
Other discussions and agreements about interconnections are also progressing well, with the signing of power exchange and interconnection agreement with Sabah in 2021 involving the initial export of 30 megawatt (MW) to 50MW of electricity over a 15-year period.
An agreement currently being negotiated is electricity export to Brunei, he said.
As for exporting electricity to Singapore, Abang Johari said the state government, together with its Singapore partners Sembcorp International and Singapore Power Group, has completed a comprehensive technical study and the commercial negotiations are in the advantage stage.
Among the plans is the laying of undersea power cables directly linking Sarawak to Singapore.
“Collectively, the projects are vital building blocks for the aforementioned Asean Power Grid and in pursuing them, I believe Sarawak can become the battery of Asean, helping to link power grids across the region,” said Abang Johari.
He lauded the federal government’s decision to lift the ban on cross-border trade in renewable energy in May this year.
Nonetheless, Abang Johari urged all member states of Asean to work closely together to realise the objectives of environmental sustainability in the face of global warming and climate crisis.
“Cooperation, communication and understanding are essential if we are to see collective success for Southeast Asia. As policymakers, we must do our part, providing the necessary political frameworks and programmes to facilitate public-private partnerships and encourage collective action,” he said.