Sarawak Energy considering solar panels on lakes to generate renewable energy

Sharbini speaking at Lan Berambeh Anak Sarawak on Saturday (Oct 20, 2018).

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22: Sarawak Energy Berhad is mulling over placing solar panels on lakes to produce more renewable energy in its generation mix which currently sits at almost 75 per cent from hydropower.

Its Group Chief Executive Officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili said for every one megawatt (MW) of solar power to be produced, a land size of 2.5 acres would be needed for the panels.

“So you can imagine for 100MW, you will need 250 acres. That is a challenge. That is why we are now looking at putting up solar panels on lakes instead of on land because we have Bakun (HEP), we have Batang Ai (HEP) and we have Murum (HEP), big areas of water which currently support fishing activities,” said Sharbini.

He said panels could be placed on lakes to generate additional green renewable energy. The cost to do so is high currently, but as it is also coming down rapidly, he believed such an endeavour could be done in the future for Sarawak.

However, like all power generation projects, this would be subject to further stakeholder engagements and detailed studies including environmental and social impact assessments before proceeding.

On the question of constant blackouts within Sarawak, he said as Sarawak is big in size, an extensive network was needed to supply electricity for everyone.

“If you look at Singapore or Peninsular Malaysia, they have massive systems, like a ring where when there is interruption on one section, the others will come in. But because we are such a big state, it takes time for us to build that kind of system,” said Sharbini, while speaking as a panelist during the “Sarawak Transformation Plan: Towards High Income and Developed State 2030” session held during the one-day Lan Berambeh Anak Sarawak event at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre here yesterday.

Other panelists included Chairman of Tegas (Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Sarawak) who is also the Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif, State Secretary Tan Sri Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and General Manager of Sarawak Multimedia Authority Dr Zaidi Razak.

Sharbini said currently, Sarawak Energy spends RM300 million every year to install sub-stations and other infrastructure to create the “ring”.

Over the years, he said, there has been an improvement to the state’s grid system through the building of a RM2.7billion second grid. The System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) used to be 300 minutes but in 2018, it was reduced to 80 minutes. Sarawak Energy is targeting to reach an interruption index of 50 minutes similar to Peninsular Malaysia.

Apart from infrastructure, Sharbini said other factors leading to electricity supply interruptions were weather such as lightning, third-party contractor excavation of Sarawak Energy’s cables, power theft, vehicles hitting electric poles and hunting where bullets hit the cable which causes trips in the system. — DayakDaily