NEWS & UPDATES
Electrification Of Bario Highlands Via Solar Hybrid Power System
Sarawak Energy Appointed To Operate And Maintain The Rm27mil System.
BARIO, 25TH OCTOBER 2016, TUESDAY: The Bario community now enjoys 24-hour supply of affordable and renewable electricity through the completion and commissioning of a 887 kilowatt Solar Hybrid Power System, the biggest solar project to date of the government’s alternative rural electrification initiative in Sarawak.
The system currently powers over 200 households in 9 villages; Kpg Baru, Kpg Padang Pasir, Pa Ramapoh A & B, Ulung Palang A &B, Pa Umor, Pa Ukat and Pa Derong; the nearby bazaar and a few administrative offices. Extension works are now ongoing to connect to 2 more villages; Arur Layun and Bario Asal; and expected to be ready before end of this year, bringing the total number of households supplied by this system to over 300.
Supply will soon be extended to more government facilities like clinic, immigration office, airport, sub-district office and two primary schools. Aside from this Bario Central Solar Hybrid Power Station, there are smaller standalone solar hybrid stations in the vicinity supplying to 5 other villages - Arur Dalan, Pa Lungan, Pa Mada, Pa Dalih and Pa Remudu.
Sarawak Energy through the Rural Off-Grid Operation Division has been appointed by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development (KKLW) to carry out the operation and maintenance of this federal-funded RM27mil system and other surrounding solar hybrid stations.
An official ceremony to mark this rural electrification milestone took place here today with Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Public Utilities launching the Bario Central Solar Hybrid Power Station located at Kampung Baru, Bario. Also present were Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Assistant Minister for Public Utilities (Electricity and Telecommunications), Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Assistant Minister for Public Utilities (Water Supply) and Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer.
In his speech, Torstein said the Bario Central Solar Hybrid Power Station benefited the community in more ways than one.
“Besides lighting up the Bario community, it has also created job opportunities for the locals. During the construction of the project, the contractor hired the local community to assist in construction works, including transporting building materials and taking care of the site.
“Since the commissioning of the power station, Sarawak Energy also hired some of the local youth to become our power plant operators. This is a meaningful project that will bring positive changes to the Bario community,” he said.
Torstein said Sarawak Energy strongly advocates that everyone should have the equal right to enjoy basic amenities like electricity supply and the corporation is committed to supporting the Federal and State Governments on rural electrification initiatives.
The construction of this system in Bario began in 2010 and was first commissioned in September last year before it was handed over to Sarawak Energy in June this year.
The system makes use of two energy sources namely solar photovoltaic as the primary source and diesel generator as back up with battery banks for energy storage. As such, at least 70% of the energy derived from this system is solar power while the remaining is from diesel generation.
Currently, there are 17 similar solar hybrid power stations in operation throughout the interior of Sarawak. Another 12 to 15 stations are in various stages of implementation are expected to be commissioned within the next two years.
Rural electrification is a challenging task due to the vastness of Sarawak and the mountainous geographical terrains along with a dispersed population, half being rural based. Wherever possible, Sarawak Energy’s primary approach is to connect rural households to the State Grid but if this is not feasible then off-grid Alternatives are explored.
A total of 70,882 new rural households have been connected either through grid expansion or off-grid hybrids with electricity coverage in the state now reaching 91%. To accelerate rural electrification, the State Government recently launched the SARES (Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme) aiming to construct community based solar and microhydro systems for over 300 remotest villages. A budget of RM 500 million has been allocated to complete this challenging agenda over 5 years from 2016 to 2020.