KUCHING, Dec 10 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today stressed that the state government is committed to ensuring all Sarawakian households have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
“We take this very seriously and we are working towards achieving the goal through our respective departments and agencies, building on the process which has already been set up,” he said.
“Guided by the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is currently implementing the Sarawak Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan, which aims to intensify efforts and achieve full electrification by 2025,” he said when addressing the Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) here.
“While the calls are getting louder for the world to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, Sarawak is pursuing a balanced and holistic energy development strategy to ensure energy security, sustainability and affordability,” he said.
He said while he believes that environmental sustainability is crucial, energy affordability and security are key factors in how the state develops its resources.
“This means achieving a realistic balance by maintaining predominantly renewable hydropower in our generation mix with indigenous coal and gas for energy security,” he said.
The chief minister said the state government is mindful that it needs to achieve development in a sustainable manner by learning from the experience and challenges of nations that attained development and eradicated energy poverty by utilising traditional fossil fuel before the global shift to renewable power.
“Therefore, we are formulating policies and implementing strategies that are best suited to our needs with sustainability embedded at the core of our processes,” he said.
He added that the target is for Sarawak to achieve high income status by 2030 with renewable energy as the driver and enabler.
He said that state’s confluence of rivers and mountainous interior landscape makes hydropower the best provider of renewable, reliable and affordable energy.
Sarawak’s first hydropower plant, Batang Ai, was commissioned in 1985, Murum in 2014 and is now embarking on the Baleh project.
The state government, through SEB, acquired Bakun from the federal government in 2017.
He said the hydropower from the dams have boosted industrialisation and the creation of a corridor of renewable energy — the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.
“This has attracted investors supporting job and business opportunities for Malaysians,” he said.
The chief minister said that South-east Asia’s first Integrated Hydrogen Production Plant and Refuelling Station was commissioned in Kuching this year by SEB working with Linde Group, a global leader in the international industrial and engineering company based in Germany.
“It is a pilot research facility that is generating a greater understanding of how we can green the transportation sector,” he said, adding that SEB will be building six more hydrogen refuelling stations to cater to the anticipated needs of the transportation sector.
He said two of the stations will be located in Kuching and one each in Sri Aman, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.
He added the outcome of this research will guide the state government in the next steps 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,” he said.
The chief minister also said the state government is studying and looking into building smart cities with smart power grids which encompass 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,” he added.