Baleh HEP ready in 2026

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KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is committed to advancing hydropower and exploring renewable energy resources, driving its ambition of becoming a regional powerhouse while championing sustainability practices.

Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili said the Covid-19 pandemic had not stopped the advancement of its major projects.

“In all our projects, it is crucial to address health and safety concerns first with the support and guidance of the Sarawak government.

“We have resumed work in most of our projects with stringent Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety measures in place,” he said during SEB’s Business Update 2020 virtual session at iCube Innovation here today.

Sharbini said work on the 1,285MW Baleh Hydroelectric Project was progressing well with the implementation of stringent SOPs. 

“When completed in 2026, it will join Sarawak’s existing Hydroelectric Plants (HEPs) and support the state’s aspiration of becoming a regional powerhouse,” he said, adding that the river diversion and closure works for the project had been completed in October.

One of SEB’s presentation slides outlining its aims.

Sharbini said the other three large HEPs in Sarawak were the 108MW Batang Ai HEP, 2,400MW Bakun HEP, and 944MW Murum HEP — providing an installed capacity of 3,452MW.

“Our hydropower journey has accelerated Sarawak’s leadership in renewable energy solutions. We are also exploring the production and application of green hydrogen as part of SEB’s green energy agenda,” said Sharbini.

He said SEB was also developing a 50MW floating solar system at Batang Ai HEP to increase the proportion of renewable energy in Sarawak’s generation mix.

On the Northern Agenda, he said major project works were being carried out to connect Limbang and Lawas to the state grid.

He said this was scheduled to be completed in 2023, adding that the project was being implemented in phases to extend the transmission grid across the whole length of Sarawak and also cater for potential power export to Sabah and Brunei in realising the Borneo Grid.

One of SEB’s presentation slides on its Sarawak Energy Excellence 2022 Roadmap.

He said discussions on power export had been fruitful, adding that talks with Brunei were still ongoing.

“In progressing power export discussions, we signed the Term Sheet with Sabah Electricity on Oct 21 this year which sets out the intention for the interconnection to be completed by May 31, 2023 for 30-50MW over 15 years.

“This is a positive development which brings us closer to realising the Borneo Grid and subsequently to grow into a regional powerhouse,” he said.

“As land matters are critical to the success of this project, I appeal for the community’s support to allow us access to the site to ensure that we can provide stable and reliable power supply to all,” he urged.

On SEB’s aim of achieving 100 percent electrification for Sarawak by 2025, Sharbini said it was currently focused on reaching its target of 99 percent electrification throughout the state within the next few months through strategies under its rural electrification master plan.

One of SEB’s presentation slides.

“This means about 97 percent in the rural areas as we have already achieved 100 percent in the urban areas. Currently,we are at 95 percent rural coverage to reach 97 percent in the next couple of months, hopefully we will be able to achieve this by the end of the first quarter next year,” he said.

Sharbini said since 2009, about 150,000 new rural households had been connected under the various rural electrification strategies.

He said SEB was now implementing the Sarawak Energy Excellence 2022 Roadmap as a blueprint to provide focus in the organisation.

On the Covid-19 pandemic, he said SEB supported the government’s efforts in cushioning its impact such as the implementation of discounts on electricity bills under the economic stimulus package while also contributing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other facilities to support Covid-19 frontliners.

He assured that SEB would continue to improve to be best in class in the areas it worked on.

“Our future is bright as we are taking bold steps to support the transformation of Sarawak and its vision of achieving developed status by 2030,” he said, adding that SEB had been built on a strong legacy of close to 100 years and would be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year.

Sharbini said SEB currently served an estimated 710,000 customers through its extensive transmission and distribution network, with a workforce of about 5,400.

Looking forward to helping Sarawak

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