No hurry to revisit Baram dam yet

Natasha Jee

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has no plans to revisit the Baram hydroelectric dam yet, but has other alternatives in place to ensure sufficient power supply.  Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said there are better ways to get sufficient power supply through existing dams, cascading dams, and having floating solar systems.

“As the late Tok Nan (former chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) said, it is moratorium. We hold it (Baram dam) unless there is really a need for us to go into it.

“But we cannot look at development at a static manner. Unless there is a demand, then we will work out what is best for us to do and indulge in,” he said in a press conference after officiating at the soft launch of the International Energy Week (IEW) 2020 at Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) Tower yesterday.

Dr Rundi was responding to question whether there is a need to build more dams as Sarawak is going to supply more power to Sabah and Indonesia. 

“There is no need to reopen the Baram dam or relook to having more hydro dams, as power supply is still sufficient at the moment,” he said.

He said with the Bakun hydro dam and coming up of the Baleh dam, it will be able to generate the energy that is required for domestic usage and for export.

“We must emphasise here that we are concerned for the environment and the livelihood of the people.

“It is not just business matters or about the money, but also about social impact,” he pointed out.  On the development of Indonesia moving its capital city to Kalimantan, Dr Rundi said it would benefit both parties including Sarawak where it could earn extra revenue.

“Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is looking at a partnership with an established Indonesian power company to develop hydropower. We are also in negotiations with Sabah to supply our energy to them.

“We are lucky, in terms of energy, we have our own autonomy as all the dams are under our authority,” he stressed.

Moving forward, he said the state government is heading towards green energy, which is why it has tapped into hydrogen energy.

“Although some think it is not relevant, actually it is because of our water resources that we can produce very good hydrogen power. 

“Right now 75 percent of our energy is from hydropower, and the rest is from coal, gas and fossil fuel. We are trying our best to reduce carbon emission,” he added.

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