KOTA KINABALU: Electricity generation from solar power has reached 84 megawatts (MW) with more renewable energy projects being implemented, says Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan.
He said 50MW of energy is generated at the Kudat solar farm, operating since 2018, while large-scale solar projects to generate up to 62MW are being implemented and expected to be ready next year.
He said the projects are in Beaufort (6MW capacity), Kunak (5MW), Sandakan (20MW), Tawau (16MW) and Labuan (15MW).
"We will have about 146MW or 11% of the total generation capacity of the grid in Sabah," he told the state assembly on Wednesday (May 24).
Responding to a question from Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee (GRS-Nominated), Mizam said Sabah had the potential to generate up to 99,400MW based on the Malaysian Renewable Energy Roadmap (MyRER) that was drawn up by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) in 2021.
He said MyRER's projection was based on using an undeveloped land area of 1,887sq km or 2.6% of Sabah's total land area for solar farms.
However, he said that for the state's electricity grid to maintain stability, only a maximum of 220MW or 22% could come from solar power.
"Solar power needs consistent energy (inflow) from the sun's rays," he said, adding that the capacity of solar energy channelled into the electricity grid can only be increased when battery storage technology is sufficiently advanced.
"(The percentage of solar power in the grid can be increased) only when this technology is mature and competitive in the future," he said.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) said there was a need for comprehensive studies on the installation of solar farms as not all areas were conducive.
He cautioned that it was also important for locals to be trained in maintaining such installations as experience had shown that such systems failed when maintenance issues arose.
The issues of serious water supply problems and frequent power cuts from load shedding continued to dominate concerns raised by assemblymen from both sides of the political divide.
Datuk Masuing Banah (GRS-Kuamut) said load shedding and power cuts should not occur in housing estates and homes of the poor.
"I say this because these are people who cannot afford to keep changing their refrigerators or electrical appliances damaged due to power outages and fluctuation," he said.
He said the cost to ordinary people to replace such appliances is very high and it can take more than a year to finish paying for them through hire purchase.
"You can cut power to houses of the rich, high-ranking government officers, assemblymen but avoid the ordinary man's home in housing estates," he told the assembly while explaining that his district, Kuamut in central Sabah, has been suffering from water and electricity supply issues for years.