Sarawak Energy’s largest hydropower project to date, the 1,285-MW Baleh Hydroelectric Project (HEP) in Malaysia, has reached a major project milestone with the successful completion of its dual diversion tunnels, river diversion and closure works in October.
Hydro Review previously reported Baleh’s main dam will be a 188-meter-high, concrete-faced-rockfill structure on the Baleh River about 95 km from its confluence with the Rajang River. Its construction is expected to require around 3,500 employees during its peak. Measuring 1.2 km long, the dual concrete-lined diversion tunnels run parallel to each other to enable river diversion activities and are fully functional.
Last week, a blessing or “miring” ceremony was organized at the request of local communities to mark the completion of this critical package of the project. The completion of the diversion tunnels, river diversion and closure is part of the Baleh project’s six work packages.
“Baleh HEP is one of Sarawak’s largest State infrastructure projects and Sarawak Energy’s largest hydropower project so far. The project is crucial towards securing the energy capacity needed for Sarawak’s future growth and development and will support the State’s ambition of achieving high income status by 2030 in providing renewable hydropower for our growth,” said Sarawak’s Minister for Utilities Dato Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi anak Utom.
“During my visit in July, I was able to see the immense scale of the project. At peak, the project is expected to employ some 3,000 people. I look forward to seeing Sarawak Energy reach future target milestones with the Government’s support.”
Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili said: “The Baleh HEP will contribute towards maintaining Sarawak Energy’s status as Malaysia’s largest renewable energy provider. The project involves multiple stakeholders with different needs. In balancing these, support from the Government and community has been crucial so that we can meet our completion target of the diversion tunnels for river diversion.
“On behalf of Sarawak Energy, I would like to express my appreciation to all who made this possible especially the Minister for Utilities, State Disaster Management Committee, Kapit’s Resident Office, District Office Bukit Mabong, Land and Survey Sarawak, Natural Resources Environmental Board, Sarawak Rivers Board, as well as the communities of Baleh and Kapit among many others.”
The river diversion and closure works for Baleh HEP commenced Oct. 1, 2020, and were successfully completed Oct. 16, 2020. The construction for closure berm or rock layer built across the upper Batang Baleh will continue to a safe design elevation level of 71 m in a month’s time. Once completed, main dam construction will begin.
When fully commissioned in 2026, Baleh HEP will join Sarawak’s stable of hydropower plants that includes Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun to support Sarawak’s aspiration to become a regional powerhouse of renewable and affordable energy.