Friday, September 24

Electricity to be exported to Kalimantan by year-end

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KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is set to export 50MW of electricity to Kalimantan by the end of this year, and it hopes to export to Sabah, Brunei, and Peninsular Malaysia in the future.

SEB chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit told The Borneo Post yesterday that construction of the relevant substations and transmission lines is progressing on both sides of the Sarawak-Indonesian border.

“The project remains on track for completion by end of the year. This is consistent with our agreement with Indonesia’s National Electric Company (PLN) to start exporting electricity before the end of 2015.

“The new interconnection will deliver up to 230MW of renewable energy to West Kalimantan, replacing their current diesel generation. This will tremendously reduce carbon emission and provide significant cost savings for PLN,” Torstein told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He said similar to the Power Purchase Agreements between SEB and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) customers, the terms and conditions of the Power Exchange Agreement (PEA) with PLN were confidential.

The PEA, however, is for a period of five years.

“PLN will be paying a rate above that of domestic customers. Other than the revenue, this strategic business partnership will also benefit the people of Sarawak through infrastructure development from the
project.

Torstein added that the power export to Kalimantan would enable Sarawak to start playing a major role in regional energy supply in the context of the Asean power grid.

“It does not affect the power supply to SCORE nor will it exert any negative effect on the reliability or supply security to our organic customers.

Last year, the committed demand for electricity in Sarawak was 2,952MW and the grid generation capacity was 3,248MW, he said.

“This represents 160 per cent and 200 per cent increase in demand and generation capacity respectively since 2010. While there is sufficient supply of electricity for the state today, much more energy is required to accommodate future growth.

This projected increase in demand is due mainly to the fast-growing population and improving standard of living, along with a vibrant business sector.

“The success of SCORE has triggered strong growth in industrial demand of electricity supply, especially from the energy intensive industries at Samalaju Industrial Park. To date, Sarawak Energy has signed 14 agreements with a total demand of more than 3,000MW.

Torstein said SEB believed energy demand would increase to 5,000MW and generation capacity increased to 5,200MW by 2020.

“On a broader perspective, the Asean region is experiencing an economic boost, resulting in the rise of energy demand of between three and four per cent per year. We look forward to energy exports to our neighbours.

“We are optimistic of exporting to Sabah, Brunei, and Peninsular Malaysia next.

On the Murum HEP Dam, Torstein said it commenced initial phase of commercial operations recently with three turbine units ready for commercial operations. It is anticipated for full commissioning by the second quarter of next year.

“As for the Baram and Baleh HEPs, we have submitted the SEIA reports to the government for approval. Looking at the progress, Baleh might proceed sooner as we have completed the site investigation, and the land acquisition process is almost complete.

“However, which project comes first will depend on the state’s direction and official approval.

“We are planning the development in stages, securing adequate capacity to meet the current demand and the anticipated rapid expansion of demand for domestic, businesses and industrial customers.

Torstein said also that SEB would continue to pursue the development of indigenous hydro, coal and gas resources to meet power demand under the SCORE agenda and growth of local organic customers.

“With sites identified in the planning as being highly prospective for the development of hydropower projects, we anticipate to produce just over 4,000 MW.

Adding to the 2,400MW capacity of Bakun and the 944MW from Murum, the state will have a potential close to 8,000MW of hydro power by the late 2020s. This is in addition to coal and gas generation of as much as 3,000 to 4,000MW.

“Sarawak Energy recently established its new Coal Resources Department with the objective of meeting our increasing needs for coal, securing stable coal supply for our operations and strengthening our ability to leverage on Sarawak’s indigenous coal resources.

“With stable energy generation from different sources, SEB’s generation mix will be ideally set at 60 per cent hydro, 20 per cent coal, and 20 per cent gas.

“At the moment, with Murum coming online, our energy mix is currently at 75 per cent hydro and 25 per cent combination of coal and gas. In line with our commitment to serve our customers, Sarawak Energy is striving to achieve numerous major development projects to strengthen our generation and transmission systems.

Some of its on-going project developments are the construction of the 600MW Balingian coal power plant (expected to be in operation by 2018), construction of 600km backbone of 500kV transmission lines (expected to be completed in 2016), construction and expansion of extra high-voltage substations (expected to be completed in 2016), pre-engineering studies for Baram, and Baleh hydroelectric projects pre-engineering studies for additional thermal power plants.

“All these projects, when fully completed, will further enhance the State Grid System to ensure ample, secure and reliable power for our consumers. Planning ahead, we are also preparing the necessary infrastructure to play a major role in the regional energy supply through the anticipated ASEAN Power Grid.

“In addition to these important milestone projects, we have numerous projects at the distribution level all over Sarawak, with the target of ensuring high level security supply for all our customers.

“We are also working with the state and federal government to improve electricity coverage in the rural areas, which is currently at 85 per cent.”