Exploring hydrogen, solar power for alternative renewable energy

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KUCHING: In addition to its sources of hydroelectricity Sarawak Energy is also exploring alternative clean energy pathways with other renewables like hydrogen and solar power.

Hydrogen is primarily aimed at greening Sarawak’s transportation sector while solar energy is utilised to provide micro-grids to light up Sarawak’s remote hinterland villages.

Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Sharbini Suhaili said the company is integrating large-scale solar, beginning with a 50MW floating solar on the Batang Ai HEP reservoir, increasing the proportion of alternative renewable energy in Sarawak’s generation mix,” he said.

He said this as Sarawak Energy continued to share the state’s story on sustainable energy development during a recent gathering called ‘Clean Power New Energy Conference 2021’ with national and regional industry leaders and policy makers.

The virtual event, themed ‘Embarking New Path Towards Future Sustainable Energy’, was held from Oct 12 to 13 with representatives from leading power utility leaders, government decision makers, and renewable energy companies coming together to explore the context and implications of growing renewable deployment in shaping the energy industry.

Highlighting the role of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) in the state’s energy transition over a decade ago, Sharbini explained how this strategy and hydropower development was an enabler of many achievements.

“Since the launch of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE in 2008, we began to take a holistic view of energy development to balance energy security, sustainability and affordability to drive socio-economic transformation and harnessing hydropower was the ideal option to realise this.

“Our generation mix has evolved from being primarily fossil fuel to predominantly renewable hydropower, supplemented by gas, indigenous coal, off grid diesel and alternative energy for energy security,” he said.

Besides that, he also shared how rural electrification grew from 56 percent in 2009 to an expected 97 percent rural electrification by the end of this year.

Ung (bottom, right) speaks in a panel discussion ‘Advancing Malaysia’s Energy Transformation from the Present to the Future’.

“SCORE has also enabled Sarawak to position itself as the ‘battery’ of the Asean region and progress to spearheading the Borneo power grid,” he said.

Sarawak Energy has since been recognised as an important voice of sustainable hydropower development worldwide despite being a relatively small organisation.

“We are aligned with the San Jose Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower’s principles which was recently launched at the World Hydropower Congress 2021, committing to the principles that sustainable hydropower delivers ongoing benefits to communities, livelihoods and the climate, the only acceptable hydropower is sustainable hydropower, and sustainable hydropower requires stakeholders to work together,” he said.

Those who also spoke during the conference were the head of Sarawak Energy’s power generation arm, James Ung, and Sarawak Energy vice president for Rural Electrification, Dr Chen Shiun.

Ung participated in a panel discussion on ‘Advancing Malaysia’s Energy Transformation from the Present to the Future’ where he explained the advantages of hydropower within Sarawak’s context and how this has catalysed Sarawak Energy’s transformation and prominence in the renewable energy sector.

He also spoke on the company sharing its renewable energy resources with its neighbours through power grid interconnections.

Dr Chen was in a fireside chat themed, ‘Clean Power and New Energy Predictions in 2021 and Beyond’, during which he emphasised that aside from having relevant policies, support and demand from society and all sectors particularly financial institutions were essential in pushing for clean power and new energy.

He also talked about how crucial it was to balance affordability, reliability and sustainability in renewable energy development which varies from country to country and even localities depending on economic viability and respective needs.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay also commended Sarawak Energy for being an early mover amongst Malaysian companies in joining the Race to Zero and contribution to reducing carbon emissions.

UN-backed ‘Race to Zero’ is a campaign which rallies non-state actors including businesses, cities, regions, and investors to halve global emissions by 2030.

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