Sarawak to begin undersea power cable talks with Indonesia

Desmond Davidson

Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg (second from right) says the state’s plan to export energy to Singapore, with cables running through Indonesian waters, will be the building block of the Asean power grid. – Sarawak Public Communication Unit pic, October 31, 2023.

SARAWAK said it would study the feasibility of laying undersea cables from Kuching to Singapore to export hydropower to the island.

Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg told reporters at the World Hydropower Congress in Bali today Putrajaya had approved the power export in principle.

He said this after meeting International Hydropower Association president Malcolm Turnbull, who is former Australian prime minister, on the sidelines of the congress.

The premier said he would begin formal talks with Jakarta about the undersea cable project as the connections would run through Indonesian waters.

It is believed 70% of the cables will run through Indonesian territory.

Sarawak actively pursued the proposed project after Singapore last year expressed keen interest in buying hydropower energy from the state.

Singapore initially wanted to buy 1,000MW of electricity generated from Sarawak’s hydroelectric dams.

In his address to the congress at the Bali Nusa Dua convention centre, Abang Johari said studies showed the project could generate “at least 8,000MW of hydropower, of which 3,452MW would be harnessed from the Bakun, Murum and Batang Ai dams”.

He said the state would build a fourth dam, set to be commissioned by 2030, that would produce another 1,285MW of renewable energy.

Abang Johari said Sarawak advocates for regional cooperation and the development of the Asean power grid.

Its first power exchange was with Perusahaan Listrik Negara, an Indonesian state-owned power company – in West Kalimantan in 2016.

In 2021, Sarawak, via its power firm Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), signed a power exchange agreement with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd to export power from mid-2024.

“We are also working on a power exchange agreement with Brunei,” he said.

“Sarawak has partnered with Indonesian partners Adaro and Kayan Patria Pratama to develop the 1,375MW Mentarang Induk Hydroelectric Project in North Kalimantan.

“SEB and partners Sembcorp industries and Singapore Power Group have completed comprehensive technical studies and are well advanced in commercial negotiations for a potential interconnection with Singapore, “ he told the congress.

Interconnections, he said, were key mechanisms to achieve Asean’s regional sustainability goals. – October 31, 2023.

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