Sares initiative gets global recognition

Stephen (fifth right) receives the ARE award from Georgios Pantoulis, Head of Sector, Sustainable Energy Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission, as Dr Abdul Rahman (sixth left), Liwan (third left), Sharbini (seventh left) and others look on.

KUCHING, March 14: Sarawak’s integrated initiative to expedite electrification in the interior reached a significant milestone yesterday when the state was accorded international recognition at the 4th ARE Energy Access Investment Summit in Catania, Sicily.

The Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) is a government-community partnership model that utilises standalone alternative systems comprising solar and microhydro technologies for remote communities. It was recognised under the Government in Africa, Asia and Latin America category of the ARE Awards 2018.

According to a press release, Sares which is spearheaded by the state government and implemented by state-owned power utility Sarawak Energy, aims to provide 24-hour electricity to over 40,000 rural populace in 8,700 households by 2020 at remote Ulu Skrang, Katibas, Nanga Merit, Bukit Mabong, Tinjar, Long Bedian, Telang Usan, Bario, Julau, Tatau, Sungai Gaat, Sungai Pila and Medamit.

The RM500 million project commenced in 2016. By the end of 2018, 90 villages will be powered up under Sares with another 210 villages by 2020.

Receiving the award on behalf of the state was Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom. Also in attendance were Assistant Minister for Rural Electricity Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Assistant Minister for Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang and Ministry of Utilities’ Director of Electricity Supply Syed Mohamad Fauzi Shahab

Representing Sarawak Energy were its Group Chief Executive Officer Sharbini Suhaili and vice-president for research and development Dr Chen Shiun.

In his speech, Dr Rundi said: “Sarawak aims to reach 100 per cent electrification for all our people by 2025. This is challenging given that about 45 per cent of Sarawak’s people live in rural areas dispersed sparsely across a mountainous interior, winding rivers and headwaters and remote coastal villages.”

He said in the last ten years through the funding of the federal and state governments, Sarawak has raised its rural electrification rate from 56 per cent in 2009 to 90 per cent today paving the way for socio-economic development and opportunities for the communities.

In thanking ARE for the esteemed award, he said Sarawak could continuously learn from the experience of other countries and share the state’s success in the quest towards lighting up rural communities globally.

Commenting on the award, Sharbini said: “This recognition is testament of the dedication and hard work put in by several parties including the communities themselves. Meeting the basic needs by having 24-hour electricity supply represents a start for a brighter future ahead.

“Sarawak Energy is determined to help the state achieve its mission of 100 per cent electricity coverage by 2025 to benefit Sarawakians, whether they live in the city or in the remotest part of the state.”

The 24-hour Sares provides sufficient electricity for each household’s lighting, fans, television, refrigeration and can power electrical and telecommunication appliances. Sares displaces expensive, noisy and polluting generators that could only provide limited hours of supply for the villagers.

The 4th edition of the ARE Energy Access Investment Conference aims to provide participants with a comprehensive view of the clean-energy sector policy framework and key industry trends to foster the integration of remote communities into emerging economies around the world.

Over 250 participants attended the event and they include high-level representation from developing organisations active in Africa, Asia and Latin America and also from the private sector, financing bodies and technology providers involved in the off-grid sector. — DayakDaily