2019 – The year of collaboration and opportunity


A recent report by Frost & Sullivan has determined that in Asia “renewable energy will continue to be prominent, with a positive outlook for wind power generation,” and that energy storage and batteries will emerge as key sectors, with new business models in the microgrid segment likely to shake up the energy industry.

In preparation for Asian Utility Week, this year taking place in Malaysia, Smart Energy International examines the role of utility Tenaga Nasional Berhard – or TNB – the largest utility company in Malaysia. As the provider of electricity to 9.2 million customers across the commercial, industrial and domestic sectors, TNB spans the entire energy value chain from generation to supply.

This article was originally published in Smart Energy International 3-2019. Read the full digimag here or subscribe to receive a print copy here.

In keeping with global efforts to address climate change, TNB is pursuing an active sustainability agenda, along with a robust corporate management structure and policy which determines clear guidelines for the company’s future.

Grid division

TNB’s Grid division operates the 132kV, 275kV and 500kV transmission network. This division is responsible for strategy formulation, system planning, engineering, project management, control operations, maintenance, way leave management and more.

An interconnection to Thailand’s transmission system in the North provides an HVDC interconnection with a transmission capacity of 300MW and a 132kV HVAC overhead line with maximum transmission capacity of 80MW. In the south, the National Grid connects to Singapore’s transmission system at Senoko via two 230kV submarine cables with a firm transmission capacity of 200MW.

Distribution division

Distribution is divided into distribution network operations and electricity retail operations and is responsible for the planning, construction, operation, performance, repairs, maintenance and asset management of the 33kV, 22kV, 11kV, 6.6kV and 415/240 volt distribution networks.

Recent modernisation drives within TNB have included the implementation of smart meters and the establishment of a ‘grid of the future’ steering committee and a grid of the future (GoTF) maturity model to enable centralised decision-making, proving a clear accountability hierarchy and performance benchmarking.

Expansion and strengthening of the 500kV grid superhighway will continue to ensure secure and efficient power transfer to the Central Area region. This has been coupled with the continued modernisation and digitalisation of the distribution grid through a number of initiatives:

• Installation of 190,000 smart meters in Melaka. This programme will expand to homes and businesses in the Klang Valley during the course of 2019. The ultimate aim is to have 1.5 million smart meters installed by 2020. According to TNB the installation of the smart meters “will provide customers with more detailed and near real-time information on their energy consumption as well as promote energy efficiency practices and related services.”

• The fitting of 113 MVAr of capacitor banks throughout the distribution network. This initiative is in line with plans to optimise Volt-Var to improve the quality of electricity supply to our customers

• Conversion of 3,672 distribution substations into supervisory control and data acquisition enabled substations, bringing the total number of such distribution substations to more than 12,000 nationwide. Under the current GoTF strategy, there are plans to upgrade all distribution substations in major cities by 2025

• Deployment of mobility solutions for TNB meter management throughout the Malaysian peninsula.

• Upgrades to the grid will enable TNB to support the increased utilisation of sustainable energy, facilitating the bidirectional flow of energy as a result of the injection of distributed renewable generation along the grid.

TNB is enhancing digital and technological advancements to maximise the efficiency and reliability of the country’s national power grid. The electric utility aims to be one of the top 10 utility players globally by 2025 by developing and delivering a future forward grid, fully digitised and automated.

TNB has secured RM18.8 billion ($480 million) capital allocation to invest in its transmission and distribution grid until 2020. Of this amount, RM2.7 billion will be invested into GoTF technologies that help improve the grid’s reliability and efficiency, such as scheduled deployment of 340,000 smart meters in Melaka and subsequent deployment of an additional 1.2 million smart meters in the Klang Valley.

The investment will include advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and grid automation, which are expected to contribute to further advancements in network reliability and efficiency.

TNB’s grid strategy is directed by aspirations to grow the national grid to become one of the smartest, automated and digitally enabled grids; to ensure maximum efficiency and reliability of the grid; and to transform customer experience and offerings through embedding innovations into the grid.

This is of great importance, given the domestic demand for power. Electricity demand is expected to grow by 3.5% per year over the next 10 years, and 2.7% within 20 years.


TNB has implemented three cyber drills utilising attack simulations as part of their continued ISO27001:2013 certification. This is coupled with ongoing awareness training programmes for staff, increasing proficiency and highlighting the importance of data protection.

Strategic vision

TNS’s strategic vision Transforming TNB aims to position TNB as one of the world’s top utility players by 2025.

According to CEO and President Datuk Seri Ir. Azman Mohd, TNB wants to build on its rich legacy.

“TNB is a born and bred Malaysian company, which has a rich and deeprooted history in building the nation, even before the country received its independence,” says Mohd. “With 67 years of experience, TNB has a foothold as Malaysia’s leading electricity utility with a strong presence throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Labuan.

“Guided by the Reimagining TNB strategy, TNB is now venturing into new businesses and opportunities beyond our conventional business and territory,” he reveals. “Over the past few years, TNB has expanded its international footprint, having established its name in countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey and the United Kingdom, making TNB one of the largest electricity companies in Asia.”

TNB’s vision, built on four pillars, aims to: find future generation sources, create the grid of the future, win the customer and futureproof regulations.

As part of its drive to find future generation sources, the utility is shifting its focus towards renewables, aspiring to be the ASEAN leader in renewable energy. According to Mohd, TNB has thus far secured 237MW of renewable energy capacity globally.

By setting itself the task of creating the grid of the future, promoting greater digitisation and automation, TNB is set to introduce smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure facilities for its customers and implement data analytics, analysis and automation of its operations.

“As the backbone of the electricity system, the grid represents the single most impactful component of the energy industry and a country’s energy needs,” says Mohd.

“Therefore, we do not expect grid operations to stay the same as we progress into the future. We are looking to invest in technological advancements that will allow for greater digitisation and automation of the grid. This will lead to improved performance and reliability, which will ultimately benefit our customer.”


The third critical pillar, namely winning the customer, is the foundation for new and enhanced services and products. By putting its customers at the heart of its strategic plan, TNB intends to enhance its customer-centric focus.

“This means looking at customers as more than just a meter and understanding their values and needs beyond their kWh consumption,” he explains. “We have already identified several specific projects ranging from energy management to smart city utility services with various government agencies and corporate entities.” Datuk Fazlur Rahman Zainuddin, TNB’s Chief Financial Officer, adds: “Our simple business philosophy at TNB is that it’s all about serving people’s needs. Businesses must be clear about whom they serve and understand these people well. The moment a business loses sight of this is when it loses its value proposition, plus profits. Or worse, it loses its licence to operate.

“Many words can be used to describe Tenaga Nasional Berhad; however, I prefer the simple description of ‘empowering people’. If we were to go back in history and recall the development of Malaysia from a rural economy to what it is today, it is clear that by bringing electricity to homes, TNB has made a significant difference to the lives of people who, before then, didn’t have access to 24-hour electricity. With electricity, the lives of people, families and societies have been able to change for the better. As TNB, we are so privileged to be able to serve people in this way.” The fourth and final pillar of TNB’s strategic plan involves assisting the government in the execution of regulations and policies in the energy sector.

Chief Strategy Officer Megat Jalaluddin Megat Hassan elaborates on the vision by saying: “It is hoped that TNB can achieve or even surpass the target and aspiration outlined in the strategy towards becoming one of the top 10 utility companies in the world. This includes becoming the ASEAN leader in renewables; building profitable businesses in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East; the establishment of a robust smart grid that allows for bi-directional energy flow; and an increasingly digitally automated grid.” SEI