Malaysia’s largest hybrid floating solar farm in Batang Ai 35pct complete, targeting October 2024 commission

A worker at the Batang Ai Floating Solar Farm spanning 190 hectares of the reservoir surface on June 20, 2024. Photo credit: JaPen Sarawak

By Karen Bong

LUBOK ANTU, June 20: The construction of Batang Ai Floating Solar Farm, set to become Malaysia’s largest and first major hybrid generation facility combining hydro and solar power, is now 35 per cent complete and on track for commissioning by the end of October this year.

Spanning 190 hectares of the reservoir surface, the project occupies less than three percent of the total lake area.


It is driven by a joint venture between Sarawak Energy, China Power International Holdings, and solar energy firm Trina Solar, with construction officially starting on June 20, 2023.

Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Sharbini Suhaili highlighted that once completed and fully commissioned, the 50 megawatt (MW) capacity facility is estimated to offset 52 kilotonnes of emissions annually.

“This will significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of Sarawak’s power system. It is a key initiative in our journey to expand our renewable energy share.

“Floating solar allows us to optimise our renewable energy generation options, while contributing to sustainable socio-economic development within Sarawak’s vision to advance energy transition,” he said in his speech welcoming Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg during a working visit to the solar farm today.

The Batang Ai Hydroelectric Project (HEP), Sarawak’s first hydropower plant, was commissioned in 1985 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

Abang Johari (second left) and other cabinet ministers and deputy ministers taking a boat to inspect the floating solar farm at Batang Ai HEP on June 20, 2024. Photo credit: JaPen Sarawak

Sharbini pointed out that solar energy and hydropower are two renewables that complement each other, by leveraging solar power during the day while conserving hydropower, which can be utilised to generate more power at night.

“Floating solar provides a higher energy yield due to the natural cooling effect of the water body.

“This addresses some of the inherent intermittency issues that variable renewable energy sources have,” he explained.

More importantly, Sharbini affirmed that extensive environmental studies, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), have shown that floating solar panels will have minimal impact on the reservoir’s water quality and biodiversity.

“This demonstrates Sarawak Energy’s commitment to sustainability. Throughout the construction process, Sarawak Energy has committed to transparent communication with the local community and stakeholders, complying with stringent safety measures, environmental standards and sustainable practices to minimise ecological impact,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the floating solar farm project will create employment, business and learning opportunities for the local community, including skill transfers, boat rentals, and site management, thus diversifying income sources in the area.

“Once the plant becomes operational, additional opportunities for local involvement in maintenance activities will further enhance community benefits.

“In developing this project, Sarawak Energy has taken an approach that prioritises sustainability, aligning with our commitment to maximising the positive impacts of our projects on the environment while minimising the negative ones,” Sharbini added.

Also present during the working visit were Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Dato Sri Julaihi Narawi, Deputy Minister of Energy and Environment Sustainability Datuk Dr Hazland Abang Hipni, Deputy Sarawak Secretary (Economic Planning and Development) Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, Deputy Minister for International Trade, Industry and Investment Datuk Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Lubok Antu MP Roy Angau Gingkoi, China Power International Holdings chairman He Xi, Base Floating Solar Sdn Bhd chairman Zhao Yong Gang and Sri Aman Resident Mahra Salleh. — DayakDaily