Sarawak Energy at CEPSI 2021: Inclusive Partnerships Vital to Realise Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Targets

14 NOVEMBER 2021

Sarawak Energy shared its energy development strategy in pursuing a sustainable, affordable and secure energy future for Sarawak and beyond with international energy thought leaders, experts and professionals during a panel discussion at the virtual Conference of the Electricity Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) 2021 held recently.

This year’s conference themed “Energised Countries, Empowered Communities” is focused on gathering stakeholders in the power industry to strengthen ties and create synergies to promote energy sustainability and social inclusiveness through various programmes over the month of November. The conference will continue running till 25 November 2021.

Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer delivered a presentation on how Malaysia’s largest renewable energy developer is advancing renewable hydropower as part of its efforts to decarbonise Sarawak’s power system and drive a sustainable energy future at the session titled “Executive Talks: Decarbonising Power Through Balanced Energy Solutions for Security and Sustainability”.

Panel speakers include Atty. Ray Espinosa, President and CEO for Manila Electric Company; Jimmy Khoo, Chief Executive Officer for Singapore Power – PowerGrid; Momoko Nagasaki, Managing Executive Officer for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.; Bonifacio Eyales, President and CEO for Sinag Global Energy; and Dr. Jesus Alcordo, Chairman for Sinag Global Energy.

Sharbini shared that the Sarawak and Malaysia’s governments have aligned with the increased global focus on renewable energy transition by demonstrating strong support towards energy transition in ASEAN. Earlier this year, large hydropower was recognised as a renewable energy source at the national level. This means acknowledging Sarawak’s hydropower generation capacity into meeting the national renewable energy target of 40% by 2035.

He said, “Sarawak leverages on renewable hydropower to balance our energy security, affordability and sustainability, enabling a holistic approach to energy development. As a result, our people enjoy reliable, affordable and predominantly renewable electricity.”

“We are able to decarbonise our power system by more than 70% since 2010 to 2020 and share our renewable energy resources with our neighbouring countries such as West Kalimantan, Indonesia through interconnections since 2016. By end of 2023, we will commence power export to Sabah.”

“This enables us to significantly contribute to the region’s carbon emission reduction efforts and enhances the resiliency of the energy transition in the region,” he added.

Sarawak Energy is also collaborating with Swedfund International AB on a Variable Renewable Energy Penetration Study to understand and better plan the integration of variable renewable energy particularly solar into Sarawak's future grid system as part of its efforts in decarbonising its power system.

In achieving its full electrification target for Sarawak by 2025, Sarawak Energy utilises solar and mini hydro installations under the Sarawak Accelerated Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES) to light up Sarawak’s rural communities in areas too remote to be connected to the main grid.

The State Government’s focus on ensuring inclusive access to ensuring reliable, sustainable and cost-effective electricity for all has also enabled the proper planning of electrification of Sarawak’s rural areas where commercial and economic viability is a challenge.

Through these initiatives, Sarawak is expected to reach 99% electrification coverage by the end of 2021, a marked improvement over the State’s electrification rate in 2009 when overall coverage was at 79% and rural coverage was only 56%.

Sharbini also emphasised the importance of a shared purpose amongst various stakeholders to achieve net-zero carbon emissions targets in plans to provide electricity to developing and remote regions in the Asia-Pacific region.

“This requires many countries in the region to gradually transition their energy landscape towards renewables, which will drive sustainable growth and prosperity while simultaneously enacting climate action,” he said.

For Sarawak, the transition to renewable hydropower as the predominant energy source in its generation mix has greatly bolstered the State’s socio-economic growth. Sarawak can serve as the battery of the region to drive energy transition, with hydropower as its core.

In 2019, Sarawak Energy organised a thought-leadership campaign, the Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) to lead energy transition discourse at the regional level.

“This year, we are partnering the UN Global Compact Network Malaysia and Brunei to organise SAREF 2.0 in parallel with the GO ESG ASEAN 2021 Summit, to continue the discussion on our shared energy future,” Sharbini shared.

In his closing remarks, Sharbini said, “Collaboration is key for us to turn our net-zero carbon emission pledge and goals into action. Embarking on energy transition is a huge investment in both developing the physical infrastructure and manpower capabilities. This requires meticulous planning and strategic execution that abides by international standards and best practices. It is, however, not impossible and through strategic partnerships, these are challenges that can be overcome.”

Sarawak Energy’s Group CEO, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, was a panellist at CEPSI 2021.

The six panel speakers discussed on “Decarbonising Power Through Balanced Energy Solutions for Security and Sustainability”.