Sarawak Energy’s First Floating Solar Farm On Track For Commissioning By October 2024

20 JUNE 2024

The construction of Sarawak Energy’s Batang Ai Floating Solar Farm has reached 35% completion, and the project remains on track for commissioning by the end of October 2024, marking an important milestone for renewable energy in the region. Set to become the largest floating solar farm in Malaysia and the first major hybrid generation facility combining hydro and solar, the 50MW capacity facility is estimated to offset 52 kilotonnes of emissions annually, significantly contributing to the decarbonisation of Sarawak’s power system.

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, was briefed on the progress of the project by Sarawak Energy during a working visit to the project site on 20 June. He was joined by Minister for Utility and Telecommunication Sarawak, The Honourable Dato Sri Haji Julaihi Haji Narawi; Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Sarawak, The Honourable Datuk Dr. Hazland Abang Hipni; and Deputy Minister for Utility and Telecommunication (Utility), The Honourable Datuk Dr. Haji Abdul Rahman Haji Junaidi.

In his welcoming remarks, Sarawak Energy’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Haji Sharbini Suhaili said, “Sarawak Energy, as the largest renewable energy provider in Malaysia, is committed to accelerating renewable energy development in line with the Sarawak Government’s Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS 2030) goals. After transitioning our generation capacity mix from primarily fossil fuels less than twenty years ago to predominantly renewable hydropower today, we are now exploring other renewable energy resources and green energy solutions.”

“The Batang Ai HEP, the first hydropower plant in Sarawak, was commissioned in 1985 and will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year. This new 50MW floating solar farm is a significant addition to Batang Ai, marking Sarawak’s first floating solar project. It is a key initiative in our journey to expand our renewable energy share,” he added.

The project – driven by a joint venture between Sarawak Energy, China Power International Holdings and solar energy firm Trina Solar – officially began construction on 20 June 2023. Built on Batang Ai HEP’s reservoir, the solar panels will span over 190 hectares.

Extensive environmental studies, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), have shown that floating solar panels will have minimal impact on the reservoir’s water quality and biodiversity, emphasising Sarawak Energy’s commitment to sustainability. Throughout the construction process, Sarawak Energy has committed to transparent communication with the local community and stakeholders, complying with stringent safety measures, environmental standards and sustainable practices to minimise ecological impact.

The floating solar farm project will create employment, business and learning opportunities for the local community. This includes skill transfers, boat rentals, and site management, diversifying income sources in the area. Once the plant becomes operational, additional opportunities for local involvement in maintenance activities will further enhance community benefits.

“In developing this project, Sarawak Energy has taken an approach that prioritises sustainability, aligning with our commitment to maximising the positive impacts of our projects on the environment while minimising the negative ones,” said Sharbini.

Looking ahead, Sharbini shared that Sarawak Energy is exploring the feasibility of a second phase of the floating solar project at Batang Ai, with a potential capacity of up to 160MW. Additionally, the renewable energy developer is considering deploying floating solar technology at its other reservoirs, such as Bakun and Murum.

“With all the effort and planning in place, we are well-positioned to support Sarawak’s goal of achieving 10GW generation capacity by 2030,” said Sharbini.

Sarawak Energy, as the primary implementing agency of the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication, has plans to leverage hydropower, solar, gas turbine and biomass energy to meet the 10GW target. These projects will add to the current generation capacity of 5,745MW.

Sharbini outlined that Sarawak Energy plans to invest up to RM5 billion per annum over the next 10 years in generation, transmission and distribution projects, to provide a modern and reliable power system for Sarawakians.

Funding for these projects has been secured through a mixture of internally generated funds and a successful RM3.5 billion issuance under Sarawak Energy’s RM15 billion Sukuk programme. Sarawak Energy has also received an AAA credit rating from RAM Rating Services Berhad.

“Through our prudent financial measures, investments and strong support from the Sarawak Government, covering a variety of aspects from political frameworks to funding, Sarawak Energy has been able to achieve its mission of near full domestic electrification, enhanced reliability of supply and help to power Sarawak’s accelerated socio-economic growth,” said Sharbini.

Also present during the working visit were Sarawak Deputy State Secretary (Economic Planning and Development), Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Haji Zaidel; Sarawak Deputy Minister for International Trade, Industry and Investment and Batang Ai state assemblyman, The Honourable Datuk Malcolm Mussen Lamoh; Lubok Antu Member of Parliament, The Honourable Roy Angau Gingkoi; China Power International Holdings Chairman, He Xi; and Mahra Salleh, Resident for Sri Aman Division.

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg speaking after a briefing on the progress of the 50MW Batang Ai Floating Solar Farm project.

Once completed, the 50MW Batang Ai Floating Solar Farm is set to become the largest
floating solar farm in Malaysia.

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg and other dignitaries viewing the progress of the 50MW floating solar project on the Batang Ai HEP reservoir.