Sarawak Energy Shares Its Story at The 2021 World Hydropower Congress


Hydropower has paved the way for a sustainable energy future for Sarawak and beyond, while also providing the foundation for Sarawak Energy’s aspiration to be the green energy specialist of the region.

Sarawak Energy Group CEO, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, shared an overview of Sarawak’s journey in sustainable hydropower development at the 2021 World Hydropower Conference yesterday.

Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the biennial congress provides a platform to share experiences showcasing examples of best practices and the guiding policies and strategies of the industry. Held virtually for the first time, the theme for this year's congress is ‘Renewables Working Together in an Interconnected World’, under the patronage of the President of Costa Rica, supported by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).

At the opening plenary session during the launch event, Sharbini joined a panel with distinguished speakers Dr Ashok Khosla, Chairman of the Hydropower Sustainability Council; and Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International, to discuss “Challenges and Opportunities of Hydropower Over the Next Decade”. Sharbini highlighted benefits of renewable hydropower and how Sarawak Energy champions sustainability in its business and operations.

“Sustainability is key to maintaining our social license to operate and right to grow, and everyone has a part to play in this. The global energy market is evolving and there has been a clear shift in the demand for renewable energy,” he said.

He added, “Sarawak Energy is Malaysia’s largest provider of renewable energy through a power generation mix that is predominantly hydropower. Our aspiration is to be the green company of the region, sharing our renewable, reliable and affordable hydropower resources with our neighbours.”

During the panel, speakers shared their thoughts on various aspects of hydropower focusing on sustainability. The discussion provided a balanced overview of the positive and negative impacts of hydropower development with the conclusion that sustainable hydropower development would result in more benefits, especially with the inclusion of the standards and commitment to the San Jose Declaration.

The Declaration, which will be debated by delegates over the course of the congress, is intended to be a manifesto for change to spur more sustainable hydropower developments and sets out an ambitious new set of principles and recommendations to guide new hydropower development and advance the sector’s contribution to the clean energy transition.

During the forum, Sharbini highlighted the very real benefits of hydropower now enjoyed by Sarawak, “Over a decade ago, the renewable energy sector was identified as one of the sectors to accelerate economic development in Sarawak. Hydropower currently offers the lowest Levelised Cost of Energy or LCOE, giving Sarawak a sustainable and competitive advantage allowing us to transfer the savings to our domestic customers and at the same time attract energy intensive industries by offering competitive bulk power tariffs.”

Sarawak Energy currently offers the lowest average unsubsidised tariffs in Malaysia and among the lowest in the region. In addition to energy affordability, Sarawak’s focus on hydropower has enhanced sustainability by delivering energy security and reliability, and helping to power Sarawak’s ambition to achieve developed status by 2030 through hydro-industrialisation from Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE.

Sharbini also shared how Sarawak Energy is embedding sustainability practices in its business and operations, highlighting that the company’s projects are developed in accordance with the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

“We also have an internal Sustainability Division that assesses our hydropower development and operations to improve sustainability strategies and performance. Sarawak Energy's overall corporate sustainability performance is disclosed via our Annual & Sustainability Report, which is guided by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standard as part of our commitment to transparency."

Sarawak Energy voluntarily adopted the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and in 2011, formed a sustainability partnership with the IHA to ensure best practices in its hydropower development and operations which include social issues related to project affected communities. The Group is a sustainability partner and platinum member of the IHA since 2010 and Sharbini was recently re-elected as a member of the IHA Board.

Last year, Sarawak Energy became the first corporation in Malaysia to commit to the “Business Ambition for 1.5° Celsius” under United Nations Global Compact, joining another 249 companies around the world at the time. Signatories commit to set a science-based emission reduction target across relevant scopes, in line with the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2030.

Aside from the Declaration, the 2021 World Hydropower Congress will see a range of major announcements and commitments made by and on behalf of the hydropower sector, including the launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, a new Environmental Social, and Governance or ESG certification scheme, as well as recommendations from the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower, co-chaired by the United States Department of Energy.

The congress will take place from 7 to 24 September 2021 with virtual sessions across multiple time zones bringing discussions to participants around the world. Registration is free and those interested can sign up at

Sarawak Energy Group CEO, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili (top left) spoke in a panel session entitled “Challenges and Opportunities of Hydropower Over the Next Decade”, with Dr Ashok Khosla, Chairman of the Hydropower Sustainability Council (top left); and Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International (bottom)

Sharbini shared an overview of Sarawak’s journey in sustainable hydropower development at the opening plenary session during the launch of 2021 World Hydropower Conference yesterday.