Hydropower To Drive Economic Growth In The Asean Region

KUALA LUMPUR, 13th SEPTEMBER 2014, SATURDAY:  Sarawak Energy has been envisaged as the key energy provider to help realise the much anticipated ASEAN Power Grid.

This was one of the many topics discussed during the plenary session at the Power-Gen Asia 2014 Conference held yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.  Sarawak Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit was part of the panel for the plenary session entitled ‘Delivering Asia’s Sustainable Power Growth: The Strategic And Technology Challenge’.

The State owned utility company’s strong performance and stability through the years coupled with Sarawak’s generous hydropower potential, puts Sarawak Energy at the forefront in powering up the region.

Torstein said the state’s competitive advantage was a unique one given its abundance in natural resources and this placed the company on the right track, currently generating up to 13 TWh per year from hydro, gas and coal.

“We are steadily pursuing this and we are looking forward to supporting the Peninsula as well as our neighbouring state, Sabah. In addition to this, Sarawak Energy has been running at a profit for decades so we are very much self-sustained in terms of financing.  All this just places us in a strong position,” he said.   

Other panelists for the plenary session were  Datuk Ir. Ahmad Fauzi Bin Hasan, Chief Executive Officer Energy Commission Malaysia, Mr Charanjit Singh Gill, Senior General Manager and Head of the Single Buyer Department of the Planning and Regulatory Economics Division Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Mr Cyril Cabanes, Senior Vice President-Development, Marubeni Asian Power Singapore Pte Ltd and Mr Wouter Van Wersch, Senior Vice President East Asia Pacific and President Alstom Singapore, also Alstom International Senior Vice President Asia Pacific.  Mr Mark Hutchinson, Managing Director IHS Consulting-Energy and Natural Resources, presided as moderator to the panel discussion.

Earlier on, it was acknowledged by the panelists that demand for energy in the region would increase and within Malaysia itself, the peninsula side would need to look towards Sarawak for generation.

Charanjit said TNB definitely sees Sarawak having a big role to play as an energy provider to the peninsula. This was also reiterated by Datuk Ir. Ahmad Fauzi.   

“TNB is looking towards Sarawak not just for its hydro potentials but also a basket of technologies. Power can come across to the peninsula as the technology (to transmit) is well established,” he added.

Torstein also reminded that the truly sustainable renewable energy resource in this region was hydropower which Sarawak, Kalimantan and Myanmar were actively pursuing.

Given hydropower’s ability to produce at an average competitive cost of USD0.05, Datuk Torstein believed this alternative renewable energy source would drive the economic growth in the ASEAN region in a big way.

He also felt that hydropower was much better and more sustainable bulk of energy source for Sarawak compared to other alternative sources like solar for instance.

“If you look at Bakun, it is producing 20 TWh annually and if we were to build solar that gives an equivalent of 20 TWh, it would take about 500 square km of solar panels and this will run a cost of more than RM100bil.

“This is what I mean when I say sustainability is a balance between economic growth, social, technology and environment,” he said.  

The discussion also spoke on energy generation from coal still being favourable despite the issue of CO2 emission.

On this matter, Torstein pointed out that the bulk of CO2 emission was created by the developed countries and it was only right for the Western World to shoulder a bigger responsibility in solving this issue rather than imposing heavy carbon tax on the developing nations.

For the third time, Sarawak Energy is participating in the POWER-GEN ASIA conference in conjunction with ASEAN POWER WEEK in Kuala Lumpur from 10 to 12 September 2014.

The company’s dynamic growth through the years has grabbed the attention of the conference producer, PennWell, and an invitation was extended for Sarawak Energy to join as one of the supporting organisations.

In this conference, Sarawak Energy team participated in five sessions namely Joint Plenary Session Utility Perspectives on Integration, Hydro Power Project Development, Hydro Power New Technologies, Solar Project Development and Tough Planning Challenges.

Among the papers being presented include “Lessons from the Sarawak/West Kalimantan Interconnection”, “Hydropower Development in Sarawak”, “and Solar Hybrid Schemes for Electrifying Remote Villages in Sarawak”and“Rural Electrification Masterplan for Sarawak”.

ASEAN POWER WEEK saw the convergence of some 7,000 attendees, most of whom are professionals in the power generation sector, from over 70 different countries from around the world.

Sarawak Energy Group CEO Sharbini Suhaili presents Group COO Lu Yew Hung with a loyalty service award as Executive Vice President for Corporate Services Aisah Eden looks on.