Malaysia’s Sarawak State plans two more hydro projects

Malaysia’s eastern Sarawak State plans to build two more hydroelectric dams in the next 10 years, state news agency Bernama reports.

Sarawak, on Borneo Island, already has two hydro projects, 108-MW Batang Ai, in operation, and the 9 billion ringgit (US$2.47 billion) 2,400-MW Bakun Dam, which is under construction. (HNN 9/14/06)

Bernama quoted Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud saying Sarawak wants the additional hydroelectric projects to be state financed to help power development.

“We are looking at one in Murum in the Belaga District where the Bakun Dam is also sited and somewhere in the Baleh area in the Kapit Division,” Mahmud said.

Asia Times reported in October that Sarawak Enterprise Corp. Bhd said it wants to build a 1,000-MW hydro project at Murum in the Upper Rajang River Basin and that officials are “conceptualizing” another, 20,000-MW hydro project on the Rajang River.

Bakun is 75 percent complete, but has no customer for its power. Although Malaysia had a power shortage when the dam was approved 12 years ago, there is a surplus now.

The government has been undecided between two plans for Bakun’s power: Deliver it to peninsular Malaysia by building a 500-kilometer undersea cable; or build an aluminum smelter on Borneo to use the power.

Malaysia state power utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd said in October that it is looking at building two hydroelectric projects in the states of Pahang and Terengganu on the Malay Peninsula. Tenaga said it expects electricity demand there to grow 7 percent in 2007.

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