Sabah Renewable Energy Rural Electrification Roadmap (Sabah RE2 Roadmap)

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Forever Sabah Logo         RE Logo Full Colour with Grey

Country:  Malaysia
Sector:  Energy

Helping Sabahans in energy poor areas, move towards a future of energy equity, sustainable livelihoods, climate resilience and improved wellbeing. 

The Sabah Renewable Energy Rural Electrification Roadmap (RE2) has developed a Roadmap to implement renewable energy mini-grids for at least half of the unelectrified villages in remote areas in Sabah by 2027. 400 unelectrified villages in Sabah were mapped and 200 of these were scoped for feasibility, of which 11 sites were identified as feasible for the implementation for renewable energy mini-grids. Furthermore, the project has successfully received further funding for the establishment of renewable energy mini-grids at 3 sites, with 2 having already began implementation as of September 2023.   

The first nine months of this project focused on developing the Roadmap for renewable energy to address the challenges of remote area electrification in the State of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. 

The Roadmap, agreed by stakeholders, proposes a diverse approach to mini-grid operational models and implementing and contracting systems, and applies a funding map with phased and blended deployment of finances.   

Approval of the Roadmap included the development of a mock self-regulatory environment for mini-grids under 72 kW. It also included criteria for selecting the first 5-7 demonstration mini-grids for implementation in Phase One, whereby a diversity of approaches will be prototyped in a variety of contexts for future scale-out. 

Key project actions:

  • Working with state government agencies, District Officers, official data and through local networks, the SabahRE2 Roadmap Consortium mapped 400 rural communities without access to the state’s electrical grid, layering this with the first public maps of the distribution grid, rural road network and watersheds.   
  • Surveys and focus groups were conducted in more than half of these villages through indigenous networks to understand local needs, aspirations, and capacities for electrical power among these diverse communities.  
  • Feasibility studies for renewable energy (micro-hydro and solar) installation were undertaken for 57 of the villages served by 35 mini-grids. 





FS Malaysia quote v3

Consortium partners:

  • PACOS Trust
  • Green Empowerment

    Malaysia - Forever Sabah (3)





Forever Sabah Malaysia map 1


   Key facts


  • An estimated 72% of unmet rural electrification need in Malaysia is in Sabah. Addressing this is a priority for Malaysia’s federal government.  Innovation will be needed to achieve coverage as most unmet need is now among remote rural communities too far from the existing state grid to be connected cost-effectively.
  • Sabah’s indigenous communities have proven to be increasingly well-organised and capable of installing and managing renewable energy infrastructure. Over 20 mini-grids are already community-operated in Sabah.
  • This effort is aligned with Sabah’s state government’s current focus on strengthening the quality of GIS and other digital data about the state for planning and sustainable development purposes.
  • Micro-hydro systems depend on stream flows from healthy forests and so encourage community forest stewardship. This is aligned to state priorities around preserving and developing ecosystem services. Additionally, this may attract international funding for renewable energy development in Sabah in the future.

What has the project achieved so far?

  • RE2 has mapped 400 unelectrified villages across Sabah with a population of 120,000 of predominantly indigenous peoples. These communities live in isolated regions far from the existing grid. More than half of these villages experience partial or seasonal exodus as people relocate for access to electricity, markets and services.

  • The RE2 team scoped over 200 unelectrified villages in the state of Sabah, conducted feasibility studies on 40 and have identified 11 project sites that are feasible for implementation of renewable energy mini-grids (mini-hydro and solar).  

  • Before project end, Forever Sabah received funding for the implementation of mini-grids at 7 sites, with 2 sites having already started construction before the project end. A third site has started construction as of September 2023. At project end Forever Sabah have received an additional USD 75,000 for the implementation of renewable energy mini-grids for additional sites.

  • The RE2 project has begun construction of renewable energy mini-grids on 3 out of 7 identified for implementation with the funding obtained before project end. It has also received further funding so all 11 sites identified for initial implementation can start construction.  

  • RE2 has provided an analysis of the regulatory and policy framework to recommend ways to shape an enabling environment for a successful rural mini-grid roll-out.  

  • Forever Sabah were awarded a grant of $80,000 by the Tara Climate Foundation, the Asian regional platform of the European Climate Foundation to continue the overarching policy development and advocacy work.

  • The RE2 team has developed and adapted toolkits to support implementer and policy analysis and design for renewable energy solutions.



Malaysia - Forever Sabah (2)

Malaysia - Forever Sabah (1)

  • The RE2 team has provided robust training in renewable energy mini-grids. It has also facilitated a multi-stakeholder process between government and civil society to co-create a three-phase roadmap to address at least half of the unmet rural needs for electricity (SDG-7) with renewable energy sources by 2030.

  • To improve public understanding of the Roadmap and the nature of rural energy poverty in Sabah, the project built an interactive website featuring all the project data and reports which has garnered visits from over 2500 users from across 48 countries. The project also generated 95 social media posts, 18 videos, and a podcast available on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.  


Explore further: check the latest project resources

Sabah renewable energy rural electrification roadmap video

Sabah renewable energy rural electrification roadmap

This video highlights the progress in the development of a roadmap for renewable energy.

SabahRE2 project information

SabahRE2 project information

The roadmap provides the tools, data andapproaches required to optimize renewable energy deployment inrural Sabah, and connects climate change mitigation with energyjustice, local economies and environmental stewardship.

SabahRE2 Roadmap website

SabahRE2 Roadmap website

The Sabah Renewable Energy Rural Electrification Roadmap (SabahRE2) navigates towards a future of energy equity, right livelihoods, and wellbeing for rural Sabahans.