Datuk Ir. Baharin Din is a towering figure within the energy industry with three decades worth of experience. Most recently, he was appointed the new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) earlier this February.
His appointment comes at a time when the energy and power sector of the country is wading into uncharted waters, amid a global pandemic and economic recession. For too long, Malaysia has been extremely reliant on fossil fuel energy for electricity generation. Now, as the tide shifts in favour of renewables, the urgent need to invest in energy transition has been made clearer. Malaysia is focusing on its power generation plan with a target of 40% renewable energy (RE) in its installed capacity by 2035.
As such, Datuk Ir. Baharin has plenty on his plate, ensuring Malaysians continue enjoying a reliable supply of electricity and futureproofing the company to insulate it against any probable future shocks in the long term. Speaking to Energy Watch recently, he said, “A financially stable TNB can be a cornerstone in Malaysia’s effort to rebuild and reshape its economy in the process towards economy recovery post Covid-19 crisis.”
A financially stable TNB can be a cornerstone in Malaysia’s effort to rebuild and reshape its economy in the process towards economy recovery post Covid-19 crisis.
Datuk Ir. Baharin’s primary order of business will be to drive TNB’s aspiration of being a leading provider of sustainable energy solutions in Malaysia and internationally. The target set is to achieve 8,300MW of power from renewable energy both domestically and internationally. This will help contribute to the nation’s broader goals of deriving 31% of its energy within the national installed capacity mix from renewable energy by 2025. Currently, TNB’s (RE) generation capacity stands at 3402MW which means that it is just over 41% of the way through towards attaining this goal which is expected to be achieved in the next four years.
However, TNB, with Datuk Ir. Baharin in charge, have been confident and optimistic in realising this vision. Under his stewardship, TNB has been operating with a renewed sense of urgency as the utility giant aims to progress further towards a zero-carbon future.
Already, TNB is working with strategic partners in Europe and Singapore to tap into the burgeoning renewables market in the region and expand its renewable energy footprint through acquisitions and greenfield developments. Initial projections indicate that by 2025, with the retirement of four gas plants totaling 1,484 MW, renewable energy will contribute to 45% of TNB’s total generation capacity.
While energy transition represents a crucial priority for TNB, now more than ever, its focus is on contributing to the welfare of the country amid a raging global pandemic. Datuk Ir. Baharin has found a balance in managing energy transition goals and Covid-19 relief efforts, at a time when many are struggling with the effects of a pandemic induced economic recession.
This commitment is displayed through four focus areas – which are, saving lives, protecting the vulnerable, keeping the lights on, and driving economic recovery.
With regards to saving lives and protecting the vulnerable, TNB has channeled aid through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm to roll out initiatives such as Program Baiti Jannati and Golongan Asnaf. In total, TNB contributed RM1.2 million (24 homes), adding to the RM1.45 million contribution (31 homes) made in 2020 and distributed basic necessities and pocket money to 9,918 asnaf, with a total contribution worth RM420,000.
In its efforts to keep the lights on for the people during these tough times, TNB continues to provide their services throughout the spate of lockdowns. By ensuring smooth operation of its power stations through dedicated technical teams, TNB ensures that its customers receive an uninterrupted and stable supply of electricity.
In 2020, our contributions towards Covid relief to the community amounted to RM300 million. This included RM250 million in bill discounts from KWIE and RM43 million committed to reskilling Malaysians.
Another effort in this regard is the Diskaun Prihatin carried out in partnership with the government. RM50 million worth of electricity discounts have been channeled to the rakyat to date. They have also pledged to not disconnect electricity supply for overdue customers until the end of June 2021 and offered residential customers options to settle their bills in interest-free monthly installments.
On a wider scale, TNB has also worked to support the National Recovery Plan (NRP) in driving economic recovery by ensuring a reliable supply of electricity at the five new mega vaccination centres (PPV) in Klang Valley, facilitating a smooth vaccination process. On top of that, they have been focused on keeping more than 40 vaccine storage facilities and over 400 vaccination centres running without a single disruption in power.
“In 2020, our contributions towards Covid relief to the community amounted to RM300 million. This included RM250 million in bill discounts from KWIE and RM43 million committed to reskilling Malaysians.” said Datuk Ir. Baharin.
From an economic standpoint, Datuk Ir. Baharin has elevated TNB’s importance within the national post-COVID-19 economic recovery agenda framework.
Collectively these areas (TNB’s six-pronged game-changing strategy) deliver a massive impact to the economy between 2021 and 2030 by contributing an estimated RM120 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), benefitting local vendors and providing up to 4.5 million in skilled employment opportunities.
This has been achieved through a proposed six-pronged game-changing strategy including, Catalysing the Economy through Grid of the Future, Building a Global Solar Manufacturing Hub, Raising National Competitiveness through Energy Efficiency, Electrifying Mobility for Malaysia, Advancing Connectivity for our Digital Economy and Reskilling Malaysia by embracing future of work. Collectively these areas deliver a massive impact to the economy between 2021 and 2030 by contributing an estimated RM120 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), benefitting local vendors and providing up to 4.5 million in skilled employment opportunities.
Within these six areas, several are low hanging fruits, attainable in the short to medium term which TNB has been focusing on.
The first area is to catalyse the economy through the Grid of the Future with the aim of transforming Malaysia’s traditional grid into a world-class automated and digitally enabled grid, capable of providing maximum efficiency and reliability to consumers. This is necessary to ramp up energy transition and pave the way for a decentralised energy system. TNB aims to invest RM27 billion in “Grid of the Future” technologies which is expected to contribute RM20 billion to the national GDP and create over 300,000 jobs from 2021-2023.
Next, is to build a global solar manufacturing hub in the country to drive the growth of the solar manufacturing sector. TNB is looking to invest up to 1,400MW in large scale solar (LSS) and 75MW in distributed solar generation in Malaysia which would contribute to the country’s 31% renewable energy target in generation mix by 2025. This is expected to generate RM6 billion in GDP and 47,000 jobs over the next two years.
TNB is also committed to reskilling the Malaysian workforce through the TNB Integrated Learning Solution (ILSAS).
On the international investment front, TNB has found preliminary success in its global ESG efforts. This has helped kickstart the launch of Vantage RE Ltd, a RE investment and active asset management company. It is tasked with owning, operating, and managing a portfolio of RE assets in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.
Within a broader scope, Datuk Ir. Baharin’s aspirations are for TNB to embrace and trailblaze sustainable energy initiatives, as well as becoming a leading provider of sustainable energy in the region and possibly the world. TNB’s transformation agenda, outlined in its “Reimagining TNB” strategy outlines future generation sources, Grid of the Future technologies, and consumer experience enhancement as the three pillars of achieving this ambition.
Internally, these aspirations have been reflected in the company’s alignment and integration of its corporate strategy with sustainable strategies on ESG issues as well as contributions to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The four UN SDGs most relevant to TNB’s value creation in business are, Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), Goal 13 (Climate Action), and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
In line with this, TNB has pledged to not invest in any Greenfield coal plants internationally. With regards to domestic coal, the organization will adhere to the guidelines within the New Economic Policy (NEP) and ensure that its revenue from coal generation plants does not exceed 25% of its total group revenue.
Taking it a step further, TNB has strived to elevate its governance of ESG to its highest management committee via the Sustainability Development Committee (SDC). The SDC is responsible for managing sustainability risks and opportunities as well as monitoring the effectiveness and performance of related initiatives. It oversees evaluating and advising on the strategic direction and implementation of sustainable measures and is directly answerable to the Board of Directors (BOD).
The future holds great things to come for TNB under Datuk Ir. Baharin, with a focus on “saving lives, protecting the vulnerable, keeping the lights on, and driving economic recovery.”
The positives of these four areas extend beyond the three indicators driving the NRP which relate to Covid-19 transmission figures, public healthcare capacity and the national vaccination drive.
It is estimated that the renewable energy industry generates 2.5x to 3x more employment per dollar of investment than fossil fuel technologies. Through RE developments, TNB will be looking forward to playing a key role in the country’s recovery from the pandemic by creating a viable path towards a low carbon economy.
Datuk Ir. Baharin lauded TNB’s priorities in its long standing philanthropic, education and socio-economic programmes, which benefit local communities, especially the underserved.
As the nation heads on the path of economic recovery, electricity demand is expected to improve. Nevertheless, the careful planning and execution of industry reforms will still serve as a fundamental catalyst in attracting high value, high tech businesses that create multiplier effects within the energy sector. This would go a long way in helping the economic goals of the nation to transition towards a high-income nation with a digitally skilled workforce.
Meanwhile, having refreshed its 10-year strategic plan, TNB is expected to be devoting time, energy, and effort on the ongoing energy transition plan. This would ensure that in time to come, TNB would be ready to deploy its capacities and provide sustainable energy solutions to Malaysians. On the investment front, effective energy transition will pave the way and open doors to fruitful investments that will contribute positively to the national economy. It is estimated that the renewable energy industry generates 2.5x to 3x more employment per dollar of investment than fossil fuel technologies. Through RE developments, TNB will be looking forward to playing a key role in the country’s recovery from the pandemic by creating a viable path towards a low carbon economy.
As one of the largest power utility firms in Southeast Asia, TNB has demonstrated incredible flexibility to change in accordance with the nuances of energy shifts experienced the world over. However, it has not lost sight on its commitment to the rakyat, evidenced by the continued steady supply of electricity as well as a host of Covid-19 relief measures rolled out to help Malaysians. Under Datuk Ir. Baharin’s astute leadership, TNB has proven that it is an integral asset to the public. It only stands to play a more significant role in the lives of all Malaysians as the country recuperates from the effects of the pandemic.
*All data and figures listed in the article are updated as of April 2021.