KUCHING (Oct 31): Sarawak will soon commence formal discussions with Indonesia regarding the proposed undersea cables to supply electricity to Singapore, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He explained this discussion is in the positive spirit of Asean and with full respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty and interests, although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has given his blessing for the direct connection to Singapore during a recent bilateral meeting with the island republic.
“(This is because) the proposed undersea interconnection project will run through Indonesian waters,” he said when speaking at the World Hydropower Congress 2023 in Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre, Indonesia today.
Also present was Indonesian president Joko Widodo – fondly known as Jokowi – who officiated the opening ceremony for the congress.
Abang Johari said Sarawak is venturing beyond the Borneo Power Grid as part of the Asean Power Grid.
He revealed that Sarawak Energy Berhad, together with their partners Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Power Group, have completed comprehensive technical studies and are well advanced in the commercial negotiations for a potential interconnection with Singapore.
“Interconnections are one of the key mechanisms to achieve shared regional sustainability goals in this region, with hydropower as the key renewable energy generation resource that will accelerate the Asean Power Grid.
“Sarawak is proud to play our role by spearheading a shared grid in Borneo and to work with Indonesia and Singapore to progress the Asean Power Grid,” he added.
He also said Sarawak has partnered with strong Indonesian partners, Adaro and Kayan Patria Patrama, to develop the 1,375MW Mentarang Induk Hydroelectric Project (MIHEP) in North Kalimantan.
He told those present that he had the privilege of attending MIHEP’s historic groundbreaking ceremony by Jokowi in March this year.
“This multi-billion dollar project is a joint effort to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable renewable energy to support Indonesia’s Green Industrial Park in North Kalimantan. Early works for MIHEP are well underway and the project is on track for first power by the end of this decade.
“Guided by the International Hydropower Association’s sustainability standards, sustainable hydropower projects like MIHEP present a holistic approach to the most pressing challenges of our time – offering a vital transition towards cleaner energy production, reduce carbon emissions; drive socioeconomic growth; improve water resource management; mitigate climate change impacts; and foster the conservation of vital ecosystems,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari said studies have indicated that Sarawak has at least 8,000MW of hydro power at high potential sites, of which 3,452MW has already been harnessed through three large dams.
He also said hydropower development means Sarawak is almost fully electrified, from only 79 per cent in 2009, while the carbon emission intensity of the state’s power grid from 2010 to 2021 has decreased by 73 per cent.
He added that Sarawak is now building a fourth dam, which will add 1,285MW of renewable hydropower to the existing capacity before the end of this decade to meet strong demands from domestic and export customers.
“We have moved from 100 per cent fossil fuel since the 1980s to predominantly renewable hydropower in our generation mix today.
“It also means we have the capacity to offer the most competitive unsubsidised power tariffs in Southeast Asia, and bulk power customers have made significant investments in Sarawak,” he said.
He said Sarawak is at the forefront of the energy transition and is capitalising on renewable energy sources like water, solar and wind.
“Solar in particular has synergies with hydropower, and Sarawak Energy is developing a pilot 50MW floating solar farm at Batang Ai HEP’s reservoir. It is expected to be commissioned in 2024 and is projected to offset about 52 kilo tonnes of carbon emissions annually,” he said.
He also mentioned Sarawak is also embarking on the production of green ammonia, green methanol, and green hydrogen, scheduled for commercial production by 2028 through two separate ventures with Japanese and Korean investors in partnership with the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
“This further exemplifies our commitment to reducing carbon emissions, embracing clean energy solutions, and propel Sarawak into a more environmentally responsible era,” he added.