SEB’s hydropower focus on track with completion of diversion tunnels

Members of the media on a virtual reality tour of Bakun HEP through the VR goggles.

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KUCHING, Dec 16: Sarawak Energy’s continued focus on hydropower is on track with the 1285MW Baleh Hydroelectric Project expected to be completed by 2026 following the completion of the diversion tunnels in October this year, a critical package in the construction of the main dam.

Its Group chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Sharbini Suhaili, highlighted in a media release today, that this was in addition to Sarawak Energy’s efforts to reinforce its supply system with major progress achieved on the 500kV Backbone as well as on the Northern Grid Extension project to connect areas in Northern Sarawak to the main grid.

“The Northern Grid Extension project is being implemented in phases to extend the transmission grid across the length of Sarawak and create injection points for potential power export to Sabah to realise the Borneo Grid.

“The focus on hydropower has enabled electricity export to Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia with the prospect of an additional export customer in 2023 to Sabah,” he told the media during an annual media update held today to showcase its transformation journey and future roadmap.

In progressing power export discussions, Sharbini revealed that Sarawak Energy has signed the Term Sheet with Sabah Electricity on Oct 21 this year which set out the intention for the interconnection to be completed by May 31, 2023, for 30-50MW over 15 years.

“This is a positive development which brings us closer to realising the Borneo Grid and subsequently to grow into a regional powerhouse,” he emphasised.

Sharbini also announced that the energy developer and power utility company would be marking 100 years of powering Sarawak in 2021.

With Sarawak Energy’s roots going back to 1921 when it was set up as a unit in the Public Works Department (JKR) to supply electricity to the public, he said the Sarawak government-owned corporation today employed over 5,400 employees and has a customer base of 710,000 accounts, achieving a significant sustainability milestone after it focused on renewable hydropower development and generation to become Malaysia’s largest renewable energy provider.

“Sarawak Energy has made tremendous strides over the past 100 years in our transformation from a traditional utility into a modern and agile company and energy developer with regional ambition.

“Our Sarawak Energy Excellence 2022 strategic roadmap is a blueprint for uniting and focusing our organisation as we work towards being on par with the best utilities in the region,” he explained.

With the world hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, he pointed out that Sarawak Energy has kept its projects on track with the support and guidance of the Sarawak government and the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).

In its ultimate mission to provide full electrification for Sarawak by 2025, Sharbini informed that since 2009, about 150,000 households have been electrified under various rural electrification strategies and expected to reach 97 per cent rural electrification in the next few months.

During the gathering, members of the media also got to experience a virtual reality tour of the 2,400MW Bakun HEP to see how electricity was generated, transmitted and distributed till supply reaches Samalaju Industrial Park.

The media were also updated on power supply reliability improvements as well as the ongoing digitalisation of its operations and its regional ambition.

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Sharbini (top left) dialing in to present the business updates to members of the media in a virtual hybrid session. Also dialing in were Sarawak Energy GEC members.

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Members of the media on a virtual reality tour of Bakun HEP through the VR goggles.