Silence on power import sparks LegCo questions

National 2 minutes, 38 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Energy Minister yesterday confirmed that he has received the feasibility study on the possibility of Brunei importing a total 400MW of electrical supply from Bakun Hydroelectric Dam in Sarawak and from Limbang Hydroelectric Dam, both in Malaysia.

However, facing questions from fellow members of the State Legislative Council (LegCo), currently in its sixth session, the minister did not elaborate on the findings of the study.

The feasibility study was commissioned after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Brunei's Department of Electrical Services and Sarawak Energy Board in May 2009. More than six months later, appointed LegCo member Dato Paduka Hj Idris Hj Abas yesterday raised the question on the study's findings.

Energy Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (R) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Mohammad Hj Daud said that he " had received the feasibility study in February, and now the ministry is looking into it in more detail before we make our final decision about the matter".

Appointed Council member Hj Sulaiman Hj Ahai asked the Energy Minister why there was a need for Brunei to buy electric power from outside the Sultanate, to which the minister explained, "We have enough electricity supply to meet current demand. However, with demand increasing due to (commercial) development and an increase in the number of residential homes, and to provide for industries in the future, we have to prepare to meet future demand.

"The plan to import electric power from Sarawak is to ensure that we have enough power for the future and to reduce our dependency on gas-powered electricity generation," he added.

"If we can reduce our electricity generation by importing power, we can sell these resources (the gas used to generate electricity in Brunei) to market that offer higher prices. This means that we will be able to profit economically and increase the country's revenue," he added.

In light of Brunei's efforts to delve into sustainable energy solutions, Dato Hj Idris also asked about the government's collaborative solar-power project with Mitsubishi.

The Tenaga Suria Brunei solar energy project, funded by Mitsubishi Corporation, is set to generate some 1.2MWh of electricity per year and is touted as using the largest photovoltaic system of its kind in Southeast Asia.

The operation coming onstream is expected to save 340,000 litres of Brunei crude oil a year and reduce the country's carbon emissions by up to 940 tonnes a year.

Dato Hj Idris asked when the project will start and how it is going to be applied in Brunei's development projects.

"The project is going well, and it is expected to begin operation in August 2010," the Energy Minister replied.

"The power generated by the station will be channelled to the country's national grid, adding to the current electricity supply," he said.

"For now, we don't know the effect it has on certain buildings, but it is capable of contributing to the power generation for the whole country," he said, adding that the project may become the basis for future solar-power projects in Brunei.

The Brunei Times