Spotlight: Sarawak Energy integrating sustainability tools into business operations
14 January 2020
Sarawak Energy has benefitted from a sustainability training programme which is helping the company achieve its vision to deliver reliable, renewable energy for the people of Sarawak, Malaysia.
The state-owned energy development company and power utility is responsible for electricity generation, transmission and electricity generation, providing electricity to about three million Sarawakans in both urban and rural areas.
In the last ten years, Sarawak’s generation mix has reoriented towards renewable hydropower and away from thermal fossil fuels such as gas, coal and diesel. Its large hydropower plants include the 2,400 MW Bakun Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) and the 944 MW Murum HEP. Under development is the 1285 MW Baleh project as well as smaller hydropower projects such as the 10MW Kota 2 project.
“Hydropower generation has an important role that provides a foundation for Sarawak’s development by providing reliable, renewable and affordable energy, while meeting environmental and economic needs,” says Mohammad Irwan Aman, the company’s Senior Manager (Sustainability).
The company is committed to implementing and operating its hydropower projects in accordance with international good practice, he says, in order to “minimise any negative impacts and maximise positive impacts”.
To build understanding among its staff on how to incorporate sustainability principles into current and future project developments, Sarawak Energy recently enlisted IHA to provide advanced training on using the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Tools to assess the social, environmental, technical and governance performance of its portfolio of hydropower projects.
The series of training workshops held in Kuching, Sarawak, explored how the suite of tools – including the Hydropower Sustainable Assessment Protocol (HSAP), Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG) and Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP) - can be used to enhance company practices.
Irwan says the company engaged IHA because of its ability to deliver a tailored training package. This training was divided into two categories for certified users and official accredited assessors.
“The Certified User Training was attended by our new batch of internal assessors, along with other staff who are directly or indirectly involved in hydropower development and operation, to introduce them to sustainable hydropower,” he says.
‘Training was an eye opener’
One of the trainees was Iswandy Sureia, a senior civil engineer for the Kota 2 Mini Hydro Project, who participated in the three-day Certified User Training. Despite nearly a decade’s experience with hydropower projects, he says the training was of great benefit to him.
“My primary role is to coordinate and control all phases of project execution and administration, cost, schedule and qualities of deliveries and changes of scope,” he says. “Based on my past experience, huge challenges and hurdles have been encountered from local stakeholders as there were no proper tools or guidelines to refer to. I believe with the tools in place in the business system and processes, all the problems can be minimised or eliminated.”
Iswandy adds the training was an “eye opener” for those directly involved in hydropower development as the Hydropower Sustainability Tools cover all aspects of a project’s life cycle.
“The tools can guide the team and the business entity in developing the hydropower project in a sustainable manner,” he says. “The team can also assess their performance against international good practice, areas for improvement and subsequently the recommended action to be taken.”
The course included 20 participants and eight observers from Sarawak Energy’s senior management.
‘Engaging and easy to understand’
Dayang Zanariah, a civil engineer, was one of 11 participants on the Official Accredited Assessor Training, a more comprehensive course. She learned about the various ways in which the Hydropower Sustainability Tools can be applied, ranging from decision-making to capacity building.
“The training was really engaging and further reinforced my understanding, especially in the interpretation of the statements for each of the [sustainability] topics,” she says. “The training structure was developed in a way that was easy to understand.”
Since the training course was completed in July 2019, Irwan says his team has been able to identify new ways to improve and incorporate the recently gained knowledge and lessons learned into their day-to-day responsibilities.
“In-depth understanding on sustainable hydropower and its application enables Sarawak Energy to strengthen its efforts in embedding sustainable practice into the business system by introducing and implementing new processes,” he says.
Learn more about IHA’s Sustainability training programmes here.