Brunei Darussalam is an oil and gas-rich country, with more than 90 percent of the total national export is accounted from these alone. The country is one of the largest producers of oil in Southeast Asia and it produced about 111,500 barrels of oil per day on average (2018). Producing about 935,154 MMBtu of liquefied natural gas in 2018 (Ministry of Finance and Economy, 2019), the country is also the fourth largest-producer of liquefied natural gas in the world, and over 90 percent of LNG is exported.
As of 2017, about 68.6 percent of Brunei Darussalam’s total final energy consumption came from oil, followed by electricity at 29.4 percent and town gas at 2.0 percent (APEC Energy Working Group, 2018). Currently, two public utilities generate electricity nationwide: Department of Electrical Services, Ministry of Energy; and Berakas Power Company. Natural gas power stations (Gadong 1A, Gadong 2, Gadong 3, Berakas, Bukit Panggal, Jerudong, and Lumut) generate about 99 percent of the electricity, while the remaining 1 percent comes from diesel power station (Belingus) and solar photovoltaic plant (Tenaga Suria Brunei).
Fossil fuels will continue to remain as the primary energy source in the next few years. Hence the country recognises the need to ensure energy security, as there is increasing complexity and therefore cost in the production of oil and gas. And at the same time, emerging markets on downstream production and the push towards sustainable energy production are on the rise. Looking at the country’s exemplary credentials of reliability and safety, Brunei Darussalam will continue to become a leading upstream producer and growing the downstream industry.
Renewable energy deployment in Brunei Darussalam is still at its infancy – the country currently has only 1.2 MW solar PV plant, Tenaga Suria Brunei located in Seria in Belait District, in addition to other small-scale grid-connected and off-grid solar projects. To attain a 10 percent renewable energy in the power generation mix is a challenge, despite abundance in sunshine with solar radiation of between 4.83 kWh/m2/month to 5.83 kWh/m2/month. Cost is one of the main challenges as citizens are currently enjoying one of the lowest electricity costs due to the abundance of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Therefore there is yet a policy being set up to incentivise residents to install solar panels of their own as grid parity is yet to be reached.
Despite this, several initiatives have been carried out by the Ministry of Energy to accelerate renewable energy deployment. One of them being Renewable Energy Installation Certificate (REIC) programme introduced by the Sustainable Energy Division of the ministry. It is a nationwide renewable energy recognition programme, open to individuals, private and government sectors who have existing and new renewable energy technology installations with a rated capacity of 1 kW and above. On the other hand, the ministry also have called for proposals from interested parties to build and operate a 30 MW solar PV plant in Sungai Akar area of Brunei-Muara District. In an effort to advocate the Temburong district’s green concept, the ministry has recently installed an 8 kW solar PV system on three-floor shop houses at Bumiputra Commercial Building in the district. The system is expected to reduce diesel fuel consumption of 4,200 litres per annum, and a corresponding carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 2,838 kg per annum (Ministry of Energy, 2020).
Such initiatives, along with other mitigation initiatives would be paramount in Brunei Darussalam’s efforts to reduce climate change impacts locally, and globally in general. The country officially ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, shortly after submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Recently in 2018, the government revived the Brunei National Council on Climate Change (BNCCC) to strengthen climate change governance and to ensure a whole-of-nation approach to address the challenges and impacts of climate change on a national level. The Brunei Climate Change Secretariat (BCCS), on the other hand, was formed in 2018 which functions as an operational wing to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate climate change policies, strategies and actions in Brunei Darussalam in addition to acting as a secretariat to coordinate the climate change governance.
Currently, the country is in the process of updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which will be based on the upcoming Brunei National Climate Policy (BNCP). The BNCP, produced by the Climate Policy Drafting Committee (CPDC) consisting of 39 agencies from government, private sector, research institutions, academics, associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), outlines mitigation and adaptation strategies to pave for Brunei Darussalam’s low carbon and climate-resilient pathways for a sustainable nation. Most of the strategies indicated in BNCP are mitigation strategies, i.e. reduction of emissions in industries, increase in forest cover to increase carbon sink, adoption of electric vehicles, renewable energy deployment, power management, carbon pricing, and waste management. Climate resilience and adaptation are collectively grouped under one strategy in BNCP.
Hydrogen has also been getting a lot of attention globally. Brunei Darussalam’s Energy White Paper also mentioned hydrogen fuel as the future energy source. A Japanese consortium completed the construction of Brunei Darussalam’s first hydrogenation plant located at Sungai Liang Industrial Park, Belait District, and was officially launched by the Minister of Energy, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny Haji Mohd Hussein in November 2019. Since then the plant, operated by the Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD), has shipped 4.7 metric tonnes of hydrogen to Kawasaki in Japan, to test hydrogen energy transportation through conventional shipping methods, as part of a global hydrogen supply chain demonstration project.
Recently, Brunei Darussalam organised a seminar-roundtable on ‘The Role of Hydrogen in ASEAN Energy Transition’ in February 2020. Supported by the ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (ASEAN-COSTI), the aim is to formulate a proposal for regional activities that would jumpstart large-scale hydrogen-based technologies in the region.
Brunei Darussalam may be small in terms of area, with the initiatives mentioned, it still is in a strong position to support the ASEAN region in achieving a collective 23 percent renewable energy in the energy mix by 2025.
Ministry of Finance and Economy (2019), ‘Brunei Darussalam Statistical Yearbook 2018’, Source of Data: Ministry of Energy, Department of Economic Planning and Statistics.
APEC Energy Working Group (2020), ‘Energy Balance Table’, Expert Group on Energy Data and Analysis (EGEDA),
Ministry of Energy (2020), ‘Installation of Solar Photovoltaic Rooftop and Energy Auditing Programme in Temburong District’, News, 18 April 2020
Ministry of Energy (2020), ‘The Role of Hydrogen in ASEAN’s Energy Transition Seminar’, News, 20 February 2020
Borneo Bulletin (2020), ‘Brunei ships 4.7MT of hydrogen to Japan’, News, 21 February 2020, https://borneobulletin.com.bn/2020/02/brunei-ships-4-7mt-hydrogen-japan/
Muhammad Nabih Fakhri Matussin is currently working as a Researcher at Brunei National Energy Research Institute, focusing on Renewable Energy and Climate Change. Since 2014, he has been involved in a number of projects in collaboration with local and external agencies. One of the projects involved was the development of Brunei Darussalam’s Initial and Second National Communications covering inventory years 2010 and 2014 respectively. He is also, among others, one of UNFCCC Roster of Experts for Brunei Darussalam, after having had recently completed an online training and certification programme organised by UNFCCC Secretariat and GHG Management Institute. In addition, he also holds an Energy Manager certification under the ASEAN-Japan Energy Efficiency Partnership (AJEEP) since 2018. He graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Engineering in Systems Engineering from Loughborough University, the United Kingdom in 2012, and the following year he obtained his Master of Science in New and Renewable Energy from Durham University, the United Kingdom.