Wednesday, January 19

Sarawak Energy on track towards higher coal, gas mix

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KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Bhd (Sarawak Energy) is on track to achieving higher generation mix of energies from coal and gas as the state energy provider ramps up more plants over the next decade.

Currently, Sarawak Energy’s generation mix consists of hydropower (74 per cent), coal (10 per cent), gas (13 per cent) and diesel (3 per cent).

According to outgoing group chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjoveit, the group hopes to increase its power generated from coal to 21 per cent by the year 2020 and 14 per cent by 2025. He also added the group’s expectations for power generated from gas to reach 14 per cent by 2020 and 25 per cent by the year 2025.

“The coal part of the mix will increase because we are starting up the coal fire plant in Balingan (by 2017, with a total gross capacity output of 600MW),” explained Torstein during a meet-the-media session yesterday.

“The gas part is increasing as we start up Kidurong in 2019 which will add an additional 300MW capacity to the system.”

He highlighted that a combined cycle gas turbine plant in Samalaju – slated for commission by 2020 or 2021 – will add 1,200MW capacity to the grid.

This mix should ensure carbon intensity to stay around 0.3 kilo per kilowatt of power, he added.

In a corporate update, Torstein affirmed that Sarawak Energy boasts an impressive roster of customers with 14 agreements within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) totalling approximately 3,000MW.

“The biggest customer we have right now is Press Metal Bhd. They are taking more than 1,000MW from two plants in Samalaju and 200MW in Mukah. This single customer is taking more than 1,200MW, and they’re taking it every day up to 95 to 99 per cent with no issues,” he enthused.

Other main SCORE customers include Tokuyama Malaysia currently taking 340MW, OM Material Bhd at 330MW, Sakura Ferroalloys with an agreement for 80MW, Pertama Ferroalloys at 170MW, and Iwantani SIG at 13MW.

This suggests a healthy and diverse cash stream for Sarawak Energy, Torstein said, as showcased by its current annual revenue clocking in at approximately RM4 billion. This is a stark contrast from 2009 when Torstein initially joined SEB as revenue has increased about three times since 2009.

Similarly, SEB has demonstrated that they have been able to maintain their healthy profit margins as profit before tax (PBT) also witnessed a dramatic increase of about three times since 2009. Manpower also saw an three fold increase from that year.

“SEB’s power purchase agreements (PPA) rates has seen a 22 fold increase with value seeing an increase of 35 times,” he detailled. “This contributed to annual power sold increasing by a reported 336 per cent from 2009.

“If you look at the total volume of power — it is a tremendous increase. In 2009, we sold 4,700 gigwatts (GW) of power, this year we will sell more than 20,000GW of power. So it’s actually much more than 336 per cent.”

Looking towards SEB’s operational front, they have reported an 85 per cent decrease in power theft, 39 per cent decrease in SAIDI (average outage duration for each customer served) and a reported 86 per cent rural electrification scheme (RES) covered by 2015.

These results indicate that on an operational front, SEB has managed to demonstrate every increasing effectiveness in their efficiency and productivity.

Additionally, SEB is looking towards continuous improvement with the high adoption of current technology.

“SEB is using new technology in many new ways. We are extensively using drones for transmission line inspection,” stated Torstein.

This venture into drone utilisation seems promising as Torstein indicated that some operational mishaps could have been dealt with much easily via the use of drones.

Drones could easily identify the problem in operational mishaps such as the huge city wide blackout experience earlier this year in January due to a double circuit trip.

This would greatly help alleviate safety concerns and increase quality and effectiveness of risk assessment as erosion in Sarawak is common which is constantly causing geographical threats and risks.

Additionally, SEB has also integrated the use of mobile generator sets to support collapsed areas and amphibious cars which will help increase the speed of penetration into jungle areas.