Sarawak initiates formal talks with Indonesia on undersea cable for electricity export


Malaysia’s Sarawak will soon commence formal talks with Indonesian government regarding the proposed undersea cables for transmitting electricity from Sarawak to Singapore. This project will run through Indonesian waters, as stated by Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Sarawak plans to export up to 1,000 MW of renewable energy to Singapore via 700 km of submarine cables, with approximately 70% of the cables will be laid under the Indonesian water.

Abang Johari said state-owned Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and its partners, Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Power Group, have completed technical studies and are well advanced in the commercial negotiations for a potential interconnection with Singapore.

The matter was discussed during the recent bilateral meeting between Malaysian delegation led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. Abang Johari was part of the Malaysian delegation.

Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Tun Openg. (Photo:Office of The Premier of Sarawak)

“Sarawak is proud to play our role by spearheading a shared grid in Borneo, and to work with Indonesia and Singapore to progress the Asean power grid,” he said when addressing the opening of the World Hydropower Congress in Indonesia last week.

On the development of the ASEAN power grid, he said Sarawak’s first power exchange with Indonesia’s PLN in West Kalimantan in 2016 had demonstrated the shared benefits of interconnection, paving the way for other interconnection projects to advance the Borneo Grid. SEB has been exporting electricity to West Kalimantan for seven years.

In 2021, SEB inked a power exchange agreement with Sabah Electricity to commence power export by mid-2024. The premier said the state is also working on a power exchange agreement with Brunei for electricity export.

Abang Johari said the state has a high hydropower potential, with studies indicating at least 8,000 MW of hydro power at suitable sites. Currently, 3,452 MW have been harnessed through three major dams: the 2,400 MW Bakun dam, 944 MW Muram dam and 108 MW Batang Ai dam.

Batang Ai Hydroelectric Powerplant (HEP). (Photo: SEB)

A fourth hydro dam with an installed capacity of 1,285 MW in Baleh, Kapit Division, is currently under construction to meet the increasing demand for power from domestic and export customers. SEB is also developing a pilot 50 MW floating solar farm at the Batang Ai reservoir, expected to be commissioned next year, said Abang Johari.

He said hydropower development has meant that Sarawak is almost fully electrified, from only 79% in 2009 and the carbon emission intensity of the state power grid has declined by 73% from 2010 to 2021,

“We have moved from 100% fossil fuel since the 1980s to predominantly renewable hydropower in our generation mix today,” he said.

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