Malaysia can achieve 20% RE production with hydropower plant

Other countries in the world have acknowledged hydropower as 1 of the resources for RE, but Malaysia remains vague

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic credit: Sarawak Energy Bhd

MALAYSIA will be able to achieve 20% of renewable energy (RE) production in the next five years if the government includes hydropower plant in its target plan, according to Sarawak Energy Bhd.

Group CEO Datu Sharbini Suhaili (picture; right) said while other countries in the world have acknowledged hydropower as one of the resources for RE, Malaysia’s position on hydropower production remains vague.

“It is frustrating that our government is not recognising hydro as part of RE, while compared to other countries in the world, it is a different case altogether,” he said in the CNBC Fireside Chat interview in Kuching, Sarawak, yesterday.

The programme is part of the two-day Sustainable and Renewable Energy Forum held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.

Currently, RE production in Malaysia stands at 6%, according to Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia.

Sharbini said if the federal government is willing to consider hydropower to be a part of the RE, it will boost the number to up to 22.5%, surpassing the target set.

He said the state will continue its engagements with Putrajaya to ensure that both parties will reach an understanding on the matter.

Sarawak is the powerhouse in hydro generation, currently operating three hydro dams in Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum — which produce 3,452MW or about 73.5% of the total mix in the state.

By 2025, the under-construction Baleh hydro dam would be rolled out, which is expected to generate another 1,285MW to the state. By then, Sarawak is expected to generate over 7,000MW compared to the current 4,700MW.

Additionally, Sharbini said the state is expected to embark on its floating solar project construction at Batang Ai’s hydro plant next year.

He said this is part of the pilot project, which could be expanded into a larger scale by the state government as it could complement the existing hydro plants in Sarawak.

“Solar with hydro is a very good combination because the hydro itself is a “battery”. So during day time, you can dispatch solar and conserve the water.

“During night time, you can use water to generate power (as no there is intermittent in solar energy). It’s a good combination and that is where we are moving to,” Sharbini explained.