Malaysia is investing into its electricity network to make it more resilient against lightning strikes

Malaysia opts for self-healing grid to attract industry

Malaysia’s government power agency Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is investing $2.65bn over the next four years to strengthen and expand its transmission network.

It will introduce new ‘self-healing systems’ technology as part of the plan to reduce interruptions (blackouts) and be ready to meet growing demand for power in developing areas.

The self-healing systems are needed to protect the network because Malaysia’s geographical location means it has one of the highest rates of lightning strikes in the world.

The bulk of the investment, 93 per cent, is intended for development projects, 6 per cent for asset maintenance and 1 per cent for bulk purchases. Twenty major projects in Peninsular Malaysia will account for $1.56bn, with just one of these, at Nusajaya in the southern state of Johor, allocated $313m.

Nusajaya, located in the south-west at the border with Singapore, is a newly developed area that will house the Nusajaya Tech Park currently under construction. This will be home to 420 companies involved in electronics manufacturing, precision engineering and medical supplies, creating jobs for 34,000 people.

TNB vice president for transmission, Rozimi Remeli, said the company is investing in self-healing systems, high-technology tools, low-loss conductors and a state-of-the-art national control system to ensure continuous power supply, although interruption is rare.

Malaysia is competing with others in the region to attract new investments, especially in high-tech industries.

“Malaysia has a well-developed infrastructure but we have to also ensure continuous power supply for the manufacturing and supporting industries, failing which the country will lose out,” Rozimi said.

TNB manages three businesses – generation, transmission and distribution. The transmission division manages and operates the 132kV, 275kV and 500kV transmission network known as the National Grid, including the 500kV backbone linking the northern state of Kedah with the Klang Valley, covering Kuala Lumpur, Klang and Petaling Jaya.

Power demand is projected to grow from 16,562MW in 2012 to 18,880MW in 2017.

In the north, the National Grid is linked to Thailand’s transmission system operated by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand via an HVDC interconnection with a transmission capacity of 300MW and a 132kV AC overhead line with maximum transmission capacity of 80MW.

In the south, the National Grid is connected to Singapore’s transmission system at Senoko via two 230kV submarine cables with a capacity of 220MW.

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