KUCHING, Sept 6: Sarawak’s integrated initiative to accelerate rural electrification has received regional recognition at the Asean Energy Business Forum (AEBF) 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or SARES, which is an innovative government-community partnership model that utilises stand alone alternative systems comprising renewable solar and micro-hydro technologies for remote communities, won first runner up under the Off-Grid–Power Category at the Asean Energy Awards 2019.
SARES is spearheaded by the Sarawak government under the Ministry of Utilities and implemented by energy developer and power utility Sarawak Energy to provide 24-hour reliable electricity to remote villages that are currently located very far from the grid.
Receiving the award on behalf of Sarawak Energy was the Research and Development general manager Dr Ng Sing Muk.
Federal Minister for Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin was present.
Commenting on the award, Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom emphasised that the Sarawak government and the Ministry of Utilities, through Sarawak Energy, wanted to ensure reliable and affordable electricity supply for 99 per cent of Sarawak by 2020 and towards full electrification by 2025.
“We hope to achieve this with the Sarawak government’s allocation of RM2.37 billion under the Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan,” he said in a media release today.
The current state domestic and rural electrification rates in Sarawak today are at 96.4 per cent and 92 per cent respectively, which is a tremendous increase from 79 per cent and 56 per cent back in 2009.
Sarawak Energy group chief operating officer Lu Yew Hung said that this recognition was testament of the dedication and hard work put in by several parties including the communities themselves.
“Meeting the basic needs by having reliable 24-hour electricity supply represents a start for a brighter future ahead,” he added.
With the theme ‘Advancing Partnership for Sustainability’, the 20th Asean Energy Business Forum aims to contribute towards energy sustainability and to provide mechanism for organisations to continuously search, benchmark and acknowledge initiatives as well as best practices in energy development.
The 3-day event was hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Energy and was attended by about 500 participants and 70 speakers, including government officials, policy makers, global private sector organisations, as well as utilities, suppliers, renewable energy pioneers and technology innovators from all 10 Asean member states and beyond.
In March 2018, SARES was also accorded international recognition under the Government in Africa, Asia and Latin America category of the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) Awards 2018 at the 4th ARE Energy Access Investment Summit in Catania, Sicily.