Sarawak in negotiations to build undersea power cable connection with Singapore

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg speaking at the opening of the Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum in Kuching. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak can play a central role in advancing regional energy transition by sharing its hydropower resources with neighbouring states and countries, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier noted such interconnections were vital for realising the Asean power grid.

“In pursuing them, I believe Sarawak can become the battery of Asean, helping to link power grids across the region,” he said when opening the third Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) here on Wednesday (Sept 6).

Abang Johari said interconnections were a primary way for South-East Asia to achieve regional net zero and energy transition targets.

In this respect, he welcomed the Federal Government’s move to lift the ban on cross-border trade in renewable energy in May.

“While this did not affect Sarawak’s power interconnection with Indonesia, which commenced in 2016, we see this as crucial in encouraging cross-border electricity trade for the region,” he said.

“Our first interconnection with west Kalimantan, Indonesia, in 2016 was the first step towards realising the Borneo power grid, and its success encouraged us to pursue similar bilateral interconnection projects.

“Building upon this strong relationship established with our Indonesian neighbours, Sarawak Energy is progressing the Mentarang Induk hydroelectric project in north Kalimantan via a joint venture company with our Indonesian partners,” he added.

Abang Johari also said Sarawak signed power exchange and interconnection agreements with Sabah last year. It involves an initial export of 30MW to 50MW over 15 years.

He said Sarawak was also working on a power exchange agreement with Brunei for electricity export.

In addition, he said Sarawak Energy had completed technical studies with its partners Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Power Group and was in advanced commercial negotiations for an interconnection with Singapore, with direct undersea power cables linking Sarawak and Singapore.

“At the recent energy transition conference in Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) said Malaysian utility companies, including Sarawak Energy, are progressing in the cross-border business, leveraging the Asean power grid.

“We are grateful for the support of the Federal Government for Sarawak Energy’s role in this venture,” Abang Johari added.

Moving forward, he said, interconnections and intraregional partnerships were important to meet rising energy demand in South-East Asia.

“Accommodating this growing demand while meeting sustainability requirements will require us to work together even more closely.

“Sarawak offers sustainability and renewable energy opportunities, and we are interested in working with like-minded countries, organisations or entities that are similarly committed to a sustainable energy future for our region and the world,” he said.

Sarawak Energy's two-day SAREF focuses on business, government and civil society collaborations in charting energy transition towards sustainability and net zero emissions in South-East Asia.

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