Sarawak Energy Lights Up More Remote Communities In Batang Ai With Solar Home System (SHS)

Kuching, Thursday, 17 March 2016: Sarawak Energy is continuing to electrify villages upstream of Batang Ai that are currently too remote to be connected to its grid. The most recent longhouses to be installed with the solar home system (SHS) under Sarawak Energy CSR initiative is in Engkari. 

The project comes under a RM3million commitment the power developer and energy utility is spending in Batang Ai over the next few years in social investment projects, in conjunction with its Batang Ai’s hydropower station's 30th Anniversary celebration. Sarawak Energy recently expanded the SHS initiative by adding the solar freezer system (SFS) for each of the longhouses, to complement the solar home system. This enables the communities to have communal refrigeration to freeze some of their fresh food supply for later consumption.

Separate from the state's rural electrification scheme, this initiative is being implemented under Sarawak Energy's corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme to benefit project affected communities in Batang Ai area. 

Sarawak Energy’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Services, Aisah Eden said: “"Sarawak Energy is planning to extend this solar home project under this programme to the remaining villages in Ulu Delok which will further benefit 53 households. This new technology which is green and sustainable in nature is the best solution for areas which are currently not accessible to the grid.” 

"We want to ensure that our Batang Ai neighbouring communities benefit from our presence in this area, and we are guided by our role as a Sustainability Partner of the International Hydropower Association”. 

"Although the power station was commissioned 30 years ago, we believe that we should continue to play an active role in the Batang Ai communities so we may have a positive sustainability initiatives legacy in this area." 

The SHS project which is implemented partly as a community-based project helps to extend electricity supply to communities in remote areas where supply from the grid is unavailable due to remoteness of these villages and the huge infrastructure costs involved. 

The implementation of the solar powered home system reduces the dependency of these villages on diesel-powered generator sets which were costly to operate and maintain. The solar home system (SHS) is a friendly system which is easy to operate and maintain.  The daily operation of the SHS and the monitoring of the power usage are carried out by the villagers themselves with minimum support and periodic maintenance by Sarawak Energy.  

The implementation of this system helps to reduce the monthly household expenditure spent by these villagers on fuel for diesel generation.  

The first phase of the project was implemented at Rh Kino and Rh Manggat in Menyang in December 2014 in cooperation with the local villagers. With this initial success and positive reception by the villages, Phase II of the Solar Home System was expanded to a further three off-grid villages in Nanga Jengin and Ulu Delok that consists of Rh Griffin, Rh Jangong and Rh Ninting which were completed last month. 

The first two phases have seen solar home systems (SHS) successfully installed in 63 households, benefiting over 300 residents, at a total cost of RM2 million. 

The third phase of the project is now reaching Engkari area where installation of the system will start next month for Rh. Brown, Ng. Stapang which will benefit 16 households of 80 residents. This project is due for completion by September this year. 

The implementation of the CSR community based electrification scheme is done through “gotong royong”, where Sarawak Energy works hand in hand with the communities. Villagers assisted in logistics such as transporting the materials using their longboats to their respective villages, accessible only by river. They also assisted in building sheds to house the communal solar freezer system. Trainings were provided to the communities to manage the system and Sarawak Energy continues to provide technical support to ensure the system operates efficiently.  The direct participation of the villagers in this project helps to reduce costs and enable Sarawak Energy to implement SHS to more villages.

In officiating the successful completion and handing over of the first phase of the SHS project last month at Rh Kino, YB Malcolm Mussen Lamoh ADUN for Batang Ai expressed his appreciation to Sarawak Energy for the initiative and hoped to work closely with the utility to light up more villages in his constituency through this alternative power supply. 

Speaking for the community of Rumah Kino, Tuai Rumah Kino also expressed his appreciation to Sarawak Energy and said that the initiative has significantly improve their lifestyle with the availability of electricity from the SHS and also by having the solar powered freezer to maintain freshness of their food supply. 

Also present at the event were Sarawak Energy’s Station Manager for Batang Ai Hydropower Station, Encharang Ak Ngtingih and Sr. Manager for Research and Development, Ir. Goh Chin Chai. 

In addition to implementing the SHS and solar freezer system at these villages, Sarawak Energy also carried out the re-wiring project at the longhouses that were originally or form part of the Batang Ai resettlement scheme under its current CSR initiative.   The house internal re-wiring scheme is an on-going project in this area and is aimed at improving electrical safety of these longhouses by upgrading or replacing the existing internal house wiring which has lasted since the beginning of the Batang Ai HEP. 

Sarawak Energy's CSR programmes in Batang Ai further includes working with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation on the orang utan conservation, and with the local villagers on annual log or debris clearing in order to keep the rivers and lake safe for navigation as well as, educational programmes with schools in the area.  

Installation of the solar panels at one of the longhouses in Batang Ai under the solar home system (SHS).

Bird’s-eye view of the installed solar panels lined up on the rooftop of Rh Manggat, Menyang Taih, Batang Ai.

Installation of new internal wiring system in one of the longhouses for the solar home system (SHS).

Communal freezers in one of the longhouses powered by the solar freezer system (SFS).

Dinner under solar powered lightings at Rh Kino after the successful installation of the solar system.

YB Malcom Mussen Lamoh (4th from left) officiating the solar home system at Rh Kino while Sarawak Energy’s Sr. Manager for Research and Development, Ir. Goh Chin Chai, Station Manager for Batang Ai Hydropower Station, Encharang Ak Ngtingih and others looked on.