Hydropower will provide foundation of Sarawak’s digitalisation, says Rundi

Dr Rundi (standing, first row, fifth left) and Sarawak Energy chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi (standing, first row, sixth left) with the delegation from Sarawak comprising representatives from the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy board members and senior management team, engineers, environmental experts and biologists.

PARIS, May 16: Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom says hydropower is providing the foundation for the state’s next phase of development which is digitalisation by providing reliable, renewable and affordable electricity.

He added that hydropower has also paved the way for a sustainable future for Sarawak through industrialisation.

Dr Rundi said this while presenting a plenary speech titled ‘Hydropower: Sarawak’s foundation for the digital economy’ at the 2019 World Hydropower Congress in Paris on Tuesday.

The congress is organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) in collaboration with more than 40 partner organisations and attended by more than 700 delegates from over 70 countries. The three-day congress featuring more than 200 speakers, provides a platform for sharing experiences and showcasing examples of best practice, guiding policies and strategies to strengthen the sector’s performance.

The Kemena assemblyman gave an overview of Sarawak’s journey in hydropower development and how this sustainable, renewable and affordable source of generation set the building block for Sarawak’s vision for a digital economy.

“Indeed, for Sarawak, reliable hydropower provides us the competitive advantage to catalyse our dual strategy of industrialisation and digitalisation. Hydropower is enabling Sarawak to pursue various initiatives and establish infrastructure that would support a digital economy that requires reliable and affordable electricity.

“Hydropower has helped us build up our generation capacity to realise our first transmission interconnection with neighbouring West Kalimantan, Indonesia — a key milestone in our ambition to materialising the Borneo Grid and subsequently becoming the renewable energy power house in ASEAN. We are also accelerating electrification efforts to achieve full coverage by 2025. We are now working on securing highspeed broadband and looking to attract data centres to be set up in Sarawak.”

In addition to energy security, Dr Rundi also shared with delegates how hydropower has provided Sarawakians a reduction in tariffs which are now the lowest in Malaysia and among the lowest unsubsidised tariffs in ASEAN.

He said with the development of hydropower, carbon intensity for power generation in Sarawak has also reduced significantly by 76.5 per cent since 2009 which makes for a major contribution to Malaysia achieving the Paris COP 21 target supporting the global agreement in dealing with climate change.

“Hydropower development drives economic sustainability, progresses social outcomes and improves our environmental footprint. This is a testament of the power of water in the development of a sustainable future for Sarawak and beyond,” he said.

Sarawak Energy voluntarily adopted the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and in 2011, formed a sustainability partnership with the IHA to ensure best practices in its hydropower development which includes resettlement of project affected communities. The Group is a sustainability partner and platinum member of the IHA since 2010 and its Group Chief Executive Officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili is an elected member of the IHA Board.

In addition, Sarawak Energy continuously embeds sustainability into its business aligning its initiatives to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Group is a member of the UN Global Compact Network (Malaysia) and a Gold Member of the Global Reporting Initiatives since 2016. — DayakDaily