Sarawak-West Kalimantan interconnection is first ASEAN power grid outside Asian mainland

Alice Jawan Empaling

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Aug 26:  The Sarawak and West Kalimantan cross-border interconnection, which is the first ASEAN power grid interconnection outside the Asian mainland, has brought Sarawak one step closer towards the Borneo Grid.

Permanent Secretary of Utilities Ministry Dato Alice Jawan Empaling in her presentation titled ‘Borneo Grid:  Sarawak – Brunei – Sabah – Kalimantan’ during BIMP-EAGA Conference and Exhibition (BECE) 2021 Webinar recently, said the Sarawak and West Kalimantan cross-border interconnection is one of the initiatives of Sarawak which has been working towards becoming the regional powerhouse by capitalising on its vast hydropower resources.


“Sarawak’s generation mix is predominantly hydropower. Currently, we have three Hydroelectric Power (HEP) plants, namely the 2,400MW Bakun, the 944MW Murum, and the 108MW Batang Ai. 

“The new 1,285MW Baleh is expected to be completed in 2026. All these Hydroelectric Power plants will contribute to the approximately 66 per cent of hydropower in the generation mix. 

“Our targeted installed capacity by 2026 is about 7,000MW. With this capacity, we are confident that we will have enough energy to power Sarawak; and can share surplus renewable energy with neighbouring member countries,” said Jawan.

The Sarawak-West Kalimantan interconnection is a cross border High Voltage Alternating Current link connecting two systems at the Mambong 275kV substation in Sarawak to Bengkayang 275kV substation in West Kalimantan through a double circuit 275kV transmission line at a system frequency of 50Hz. 

The Line 1 – Mambong-Bengkayang circuit was successfully energized and synchronized on 20th January 2016. Currently, the nominated capacity is 110MW (peak) and 80MW (off-peak) with rooms for further negotiation. The average demand is approximately 141.8MW as of June 2021. 

Jawan reported that Perusahaan Listrik Negara (or PLN is an Indonesian government-owned corporation which has a monopoly on electricity distribution in Indonesia and generates the majority of the country’s electrical power) had requested for a two-year extension of the First Phase (2022 and 2023). 

“Currently, both parties are negotiating for the extended period. We are targeting to sign the amendment for the extension of First Phase with PLN, this year,” said Jawan.

Apart from Sarawak-West Kalimantan cross-border interconnection, the second interconnection is the Sarawak-Sabah enclave connection where it will consist of about 34km of 275kV line connecting Sarawak’s future Lawas substation to Mengalong substation near Sipitang, Sabah. 

Jawan said this interconnection is made possible by our planned 275kV line connecting Limbang and Lawas to the Grid by 2023. 

A joint interconnection study between Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy) was completed on Nov 4, 2016; and concluded that this project is feasible to provide energy up to 300MW. 

“The Sarawak Cabinet had approved the term sheet in March 2019. The Power Exchange Agreement (PEA) Term Sheet was signed on Oct 21, 2020 for a Nominated Capacity of 30MW to 50MW with the PEA itself signed on Aug 6, 2021. 

“The Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) is expected to commence the power offtake in 2023,” said Jawan.

The Sarawak-Brunei interconnection is the third interconnection and it is feasible to supply up to 50MW from Tudan in Miri of Sarawak to Lumut in Brunei. 

“However, both countries are still in the negotiation and discussion stage to finalize the terms for this interconnection,” said Jawan.

Overall, she opined that these Borneo Grid interconnections are important, but they need the support of EAGA member countries to push the projects through with high-level discussions. — DayakDaily