By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 10: Sarawak is pursuing a balanced and holistic energy development strategy to ensure energy security, sustainability and affordability, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He reiterated that it was imperative for Sarawak to strike the right balance for sustainable energy in the long run.
“While the calls are getting louder for the world to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, Sarawak is pursuing a balanced and holistic energy development strategy to ensure energy security, sustainability and affordability.
“While we believe that environmental sustainability is crucial, energy affordability and security are key factors in how we develop our energy resources for the region and beyond.
“This means achieving a realistic balance by maintaining predominantly renewable hydropower in our generation mix with indigenous coal and gas for energy security,” said Abang Johari at the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) held at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching here today.
However, he said Sarawak must be mindful that it needs to achieve progress in a sustainable manner by learning from the experience and challenges of nations which attained development and eradicated energy poverty by utilising traditional fossil fuels before the global shift to renewables.
“Our target is for Sarawak to achieve high income status by 2030 with renewable energy as the driver and enabler. Sarawak’s confluence of rivers and mountainous interior landscape make hydropower the best provider of renewable, reliable and affordable energy,” he stressed.
The chief minister added that Sarawak first embarked on its hydropower initiative with the Batang Ai dam in 1985; followed by the commissioning of the Murum dam in 2014 and was now embarking on the Baleh dam project. It acquired Bakun dam from the federal government in 2017.
“We were able to boost industrialisation and created our own corridor of renewable energy through the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. This has attracted investors supporting job and business opportunities for Malaysians,” he said.
Abang Johari said Sarawak’s huge power supply has been able to attract foreign investors, while at the same time would help address the global issue on how to develop sustainable energy while contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change.
“In our local context, I hope that the discussions here will contribute towards a greater understanding of Sarawak’s journey in harnessing our renewable energy resources based on the guiding principles of sustainability prescribed by the United Nations to achieve prosperity for our people by 2030.
“I am also impressed and encouraged that although this forum is being held for the first time, we have a very impressive line-up of distinguished speakers — all of whom are experts and thought leaders in their own field — and an audience of delegates who share much concern about the direction forward in the future of energy development,” he said.
Abang Johari also praised the organising committee for their ability to invite a global icon who is also a Malaysian with a fondness for Sarawak, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, in her capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations Development Programme.
“In addition to representatives from international associations and companies, I am also happy to see community leaders and NGOs joining us here today. This will truly enrich the discussion.
“The delegates and speakers here may have diverse opinions on how to go about achieving it by 2030 and there may not be one ideal or fix-all option or solution. However, I believe that this conference will help build a more common understanding towards achieving the SDGs by providing a platform to share experience, thoughts and knowledge and see what best fits,” he added. — DayakDaily