Sarawak ensures hydropower projects are aligned with best practices worldwide — Abang Johari

Abang Johari speaking on Sarawak's contributions to Malaysia's COP21 targets in a speech at the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) held at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching today.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 10: Sarawak is playing a leading role in contributing towards Malaysia’s 2015 Paris Climate Conference and Conference of Parties (COP) 21 target in the global fight against climate change, revealed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He added that Sarawak had reduced its carbon emission intensity from its power system by 77 per cent since 2009 ever since it embarked on hydropower development.

“The Sarawak Government through Sarawak Energy subscribes to international guidelines in implementing its hydropower projects, to ensure that what we do is in line with best practices and in partnership with global leaders in hydropower,” said Abang Johari at the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) held at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching here today.

He stressed that Sarawak was also sharing its renewable energy resources by the issuance of Sarawak’s first Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs, which was launched today.

“On land use for hydropower development, from our studies we estimate that only 2 per cent of the total land area in Sarawak would be utilised if all the identified hydro projects are implemented, including the ones in operation or being developed. Currently, less than 1 per cent have been affected.

“Besides this, Sarawak Government is implementing good sustainable management of its forests. Today, 63 per cent of Sarawak’s land mass or 7.8 million hectares continues to be covered in forests.

“We have made a commitment to be part of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative – a transboundary collaboration among the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia to enable conservation and sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo area,” he asserted.

On a related issue, the Chief Minister disclosed that South East Asia’s first Integrated Hydrogen Production Plant and Refuelling Station was commissioned in Kuching this year by Sarawak Energy working with Linde.

“It is a pilot research facility that is generating a greater understanding of how we can green the transportation sector.

“We will be building six more hydrogen refuelling stations to cater to the anticipated needs of the transportation sector. Two of the stations will be located in Kuching, one each in Sri Aman, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri,” he said.

Abang Johari said the outcome of the research will guide Sarawak in its next step on the application of hydrogen and fuel cells here and its success will benefit Sarawak by opening potential opportunities for export to global markets.

“As part of our research on the viability of this fuel of the future, we are currently testing three hydrogen buses on the road. These buses are under the ownership and management of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).

“Moving forward, we will continue to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel so that our people will be able to enjoy modern and efficient public transportation with minimal impact on the environment,” he said.

In addition, the Chief Minister pointed out that Sarawak was also turning the global push for energy decarbonisation into opportunities to progress renewable energy.

“Sarawak is also capitalising on other energy disruptors such as digitalization to improve and innovate. We are studying and looking into building smart cities with smart power grids which encompasses the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data to improve efficiency, sustainability and citizen welfare.

“All this requires energy, so it is inevitable that we achieve energy security first for this next phase of development to take shape. This forum supports the call for all to align and achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Abang Johari said that Sarawak provides an ideal setting for enabling the hydrogen economy, given its abundant hydropower resources which enable the production of clean hydrogen fuel. —DayakDaily