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Microgrids for Rural Electrification in Sarawak

Encompassing Technical, Environmental and Social Analysis


  • To develop a reliable and sustainable rural electrification model in Sarawak using microgrid technologies, considering optimal and economical energy dispatch, environmental impact and electricity market.


A microgrid is a small-scale power grid that can operate independently or in conjunction with the area's main electrical grid. Any small-scale localized station with its own power resources, generation and loads and definable boundaries qualifies as a microgrid. Among all the definitions, a microgrid has to have the following attributes:

  • Grouping of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources (DERs)
  • Can operate in island mode or grid-connected if desired
  • Can connect and disconnect from the grid if desired
  • Acts as a single controllable entity to the grid


Problem Statement

In remote areas, the cost of establishing new grids and connecting the small communities and villages to the main grid are very high and technically insufficient. So, islanded self-depended microgrids are reasonable alternative for such cases. Due to the fact that usages of renewable sources of energy are getting more popular in microgrids, the generation is also time dependent and therefore, the electrical energy is scarce and it is limited during specific hours.

Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia with total land area of 124,450 km2, which also occupies 37.5% of the total land area in the entire Malaysia. However, the population density is the lowest in the entire Malaysia with only 22 persons per square km. The population counts 2.4 million. Around 1.5 million populations are concentrated in the 4 major cities – Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu. The rest are distributed far apart in smaller populations and they usually live deep in remote areas. These distributed populations are mostly occupied by more than 40 ethnic groups. Each of these ethnics is rich in culture and tradition, which uniquely characterized and distinguished Sarawak from the other states in Malaysia. However, most of these remote areas in Sarawak are underdeveloped.

The following figures show a typical remote rural area in Sarawak (left) and the remote location in which the smart electrification is going to be performed by our research team (right).

Image Image

Generally the goal of microgrid management is to deliver the electricity to the people as efficient and cheap as possible while maintaining the utility of consumers. But keeping decreasing the price while increasing the utility of consumers are two contradicting goals and an optimal balance should be made between them. One way to tackle this problem is to schedule electricity consumption for future time, for example for next 24 hours. By scheduling the consumption, both generation units and consumers (and storage entity if there exist) could know the demand, price and availability of the electricity beforehand and they can make proper decision based on those knowledge. In this way, they could interact with each other to optimally control the microgrid.

Research Scope

The scope of research for this project has been identified to include:

The latter is the project scope of Intelligent Agent Technology (IAT) group that more more information can be found here.


This project is an international collaborative research between Swinburne University of Technology (SUT) in both Melbourne, Australia, and Sarawak, Malaysia, campuses and also University of Malaya (UM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; in addition to local government and industry. In Melbourne, Intelligent Agent Technology (IAT) group are working on the intelligent control and management of the system developed and implemented by the team in Sarawak and also UM Power Energy Dedicated Advanced Centre (UMPEDAC) in Kuala Lumpur.

Project Members

  • SUT Sarawak Campus Research Members:
    • Assoc. Prof. Wallace Wong
    • Dr. Lai Chean Hung
    • Dr. Sung Tao
    • Jing Wenlong
    • Paul Dylan Lim Yung Le

  • UMPEDAC Research Members:
    • Prof. Hew Wooi Ping
    • Dr. Che Hang Seng
    • Khaw Yan Ngee

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