Saturday, January 22

Sarawak Energy Berhad closing in on Borneo Power Grid — CEO

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Sharbini (seated centre) in a photo with members of the media and staff of Sarawak Energy.

KUCHING: The completion of the northern grid will further enhance Sarawak’s power generation capacity as Sarawak Energy is eyeing power export opportunities to Sabah, Indonesia and Brunei.

Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili said the initiative will take Sarawak closer to realising the Borneo Grid to deliver uninterrupted power supply throughout the state by 2025.

“Our regional ambition is to become the Asean powerhouse. We have started to export power to West Kalimantan and we are in the process of agreeing with Sabah as well as to discuss with Brunei in the next couple of weeks,” he told a Media Business Update 2018 at its headquarters here yesterday.

“The vision is to connect the entire state so that we can have power exchange agreements very much like countries in Europe,” he said.

The utility firm has been in talks with Sabah for power exchange agreement but Sharbini said they would not be exporting until after year 2020 or 2021 when the northern grid is ready particularly the Lawas transmission line.

“We are in the final stage of the agreement which also touched on how much power we have and able to export by then.

“As for potential power development in Myanmar, we are looking at hydro project opportunities but we are not moving fast in this direction as it is something that we want to do in our next phase of growth,” he added.

In the next couple of years, he said Sarawak Energy will be focusing on Kalimantan especially involvement in hydro power projects.

Sharbini added that the current power generation capacity is 4,700MW through hydro and thermal (coal and gas) whereby the three hydroelectric dams – Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum – have a combined (installed capacity) of 3,500MW.

“Sarawak has the lowest average tariff (unsubsidised) in Malaysia at 28.5 sen per kilowatt hour compared to TNB at 39 sen and Sabah 33 sen as well as amongst the lowest average tariff in the region.

“We serve a population of 2.6 million covering 650,000 domestic, commercial, industrial and export customers through an extensive transmission and distribution network,” he added.

Other development in the pipeline to ensure security of supply for the state include the Balingian coal power plant, which will come on stream at the end of this year while the combine-cycle gas turbine in Tanjung Kidurong, Bintulu will come on stream in 2021.

“The 1,285MW Baleh dam, costing RM8 billion, will also boost Sarawak Energy’s generation capacity when it comes on stream,” he said.

Its construction has a total of eight packages namely road projects, explosive magazine, operator’s village, diversion tunnels, transmission line, mechanical works and clearing of biomass.

“Five packages have already been awarded and the diversion tunnel works have commenced. The remaining three packages (transmission line, mechanical works and clearing of biomass) should be awarded soon,” he added.

On the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology, Sharbini said they were working hard on putting the facility in place first.

“We are already generating hydrogen in our Sejingkat Power Plant to cool down generators but to be adopted for transportation is something different so we

need to work very closely with relevant authorities including JPJ, DOSH as well as the state government.”

He also reiterated Sarawak Energy’s commitment in supporting and realising the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s mission to put hydrogen powered vehicles in the city’s road by this year.

SEB’s group chief operating officer Lu Yew Hung, Sesco CEO Lau Kim Swee, executive vice president of corporate services Aisah Eden and SEB Power CEO James Ung were among those present.