Plans to revive a stalled renewable energy deal between Brunei Darussalam and neighbouring Sarawak that would see hydropower exported from the Malaysian state to the Sultanate have thrown a focus on its efforts to increase renewable energy sources.
Bruneian officials confirmed at the end of January that they would soon be receiving the business plan and details of a proposal to jointly develop hydroelectric dams in northern Sarawak, with a 40km power transmission line to Brunei Darussalam.
This forms part of a wider plan to reduce the Sultanateâ€™s reliance on fossil fuels by increasing its solar capacities and creating feed-in tariff mechanisms.
Electricity exports tapping Sarawakâ€™s considerable sustainable energy resources offers a shortcut to raising renewable energyâ€™s contribution to the Bruneian economy, which has been dependent on gas to generate electricity.
Sarawak has the goal of reaching installed hydropower capacity of 20,000 MW, and previous bilateral discussions have proposed the export of some 150 MW to Temburong.
A study, conducted under a memorandum of understanding between Sarawak Energy Bhd, Brunei Darussalamâ€™s Prime Ministerâ€™s office and the Department of Electrical Services (DES), was completed five years ago.
Under the proposals, the first phase of power exports would move from Tudan to the Sultanate via a border point at Sungai Tujuh.
Limbang, where a 200MW hydroelectric dam project is under review, was suggested for the second phase.
The proposal highlights the rising need to increase renewable energyâ€™s role in the Sultanate.
In a report from 2013, Minsoo Lee, the Asian Development Bankâ€™s (ADB) senior economist in the Macroeconomics and Finance Research Division pointed out that the Sultanate had spent US$470 million in fuel subsidies two years earlier, which amounted to more than $1,000 per person.
â€œFor Brunei, the benefit of these projects is that the country will be getting power from renewable energy,â€ the Minister of Energy at the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office, Pehin Dato Yasmin Umar, said, adding that it would conduct its own due diligence before investing in the project.
The Energy Plan Although unable to reach the ASEAN bloc target of renewable energy accounting for 15 per cent of collective energy supply by 2015, the government has made some inroads.
In its March 2014 â€˜Energy White Paperâ€™, the Energy Department at the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office (EDPMO) laid out the goals of reaching 124GWh of renewable power generation by 2017 and 954GWh by 2035.
So far, Brunei Darussalam has very little renewable generation, consisting mainly of a small solar power plant that produces about 1.7GWh a year.
The country lacks hydropower, a main source of alternative energy.
To meet this target the EDPMO is planning to introduce a feed-in tariff to encourage investment in renewable energy systems.
The policy should help to spur development of distributed solar generation within the country and enable homeowners with installed solar panels to sell their excess electricity back to the government.
The government is planning to take a leading role in identifying land for utility-scale solar projects and developing a waste-to-energy project using municipal solid waste.
The project is expected to generate 10 to 15MW of power.
Originally from Borneo Post