Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How is hopeful that the state government will re-examine its policy on building the state’s future power generation capacity and consider leading the way in advocating and implementing a renewable and sustainable energy agenda in the country.
Speaking during his welcoming address at a luncheon talk on ‘Building alternative renewable and sustainable energy capacity for economic growth and development in Sarawak’ which he hosted yesterday, See said the talk served as a small and humble start to examine this significant issue of global concern.
“With your enthusiastic support, I have no doubt that we have a good start, with the numbers and the needed force to help nurture and raise public awareness for the furtherance of this important task.”
However, See noted that there were many challenges ahead.
He spoke about an incident earlier this year which involved a collaboration with residents of Star Garden to replace four conventional street light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs. These energy-saving light bulbs are almost three times brighter than conventional ones and consume less than 40 per cent of electricity.
However, not long after, See said he received a letter from the Kuching North City Commission (DBKU), informing him that Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) had written to them to say that they will not be responsible for maintaining these four street lightings.
“In my meeting with the Mayor (Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai) later, I gave him my assurance that we will
take care of the maintenance of these street light bulbs. But I am heartened with DBKU’s own efforts.
“They have installed energy-saving bulbs, they have tried solar power-generated street lightings and even wind-powered lightings in areas under their jurisdiction and I have heard that they are making efforts to achieve ISO 50000 Standards which include their commitment and performance to conserve and better utilise energy.”
During the last State Legislative Assembly sitting, See had questioned the state government on their plans and programmes to encourage the production and utilisation of alternative renewable and sustainable energy sources such as solar and mini-hydro to better conserve and safeguard the environment.
“I received a reply which in short stated that there are currently 18 operating renewable hybrid stations using mini-hydro and solar systems powering 30 remote villages and there are 12 other hybrid stations under construction; nine at an early planning stage.
“In 2016/2017, 50 inaccessible remote villages or longhouses will have stand-alone solar systems to light up their homes.”
Despite this, he said that it appeared that the Ministry of Public Utilities was unconvinced that mini-hydro and
solar systems as alternative renewable energy sources are economically viable or adequate and reliable to replace large hydro power sources.
“Using Batang Ai Hydro Electric Power (HEP) dam as an example, the Ministry of Public Utilities said it will require 108 mini hydropower of 1MW (megawatt) each to replace Batang Ai HEP but they are unreliable. Alternatively, 4,000 hectares of land will need to be cleared for solar power systems but yet they can only supply between four and five hours of electricity each day.”
See pointed out the ministry however did not disclose that Batang Ai HEP alone had flooded 8,500 hectares of land.
“Additionally, with the advanced technological development in solar power facilities, only between 1.5 and five hectares of land are now needed for a solar power station to generate 1MW of power.”
He highlighted the fact that solar, wind and mini-hydropower systems emitted far less carbon-dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour when compared to the natural gas and coal plants as well as large dams that presently formed the core of Sarawak’s energy power.
“With the commitments of the Paris Agreement, our country’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and commitments of developed countries to fund and assist in building, development and implementation of renewable energy capacity globally, I hope that the state government will seize the opportunity for Sarawak to tap into the available technology transfer, climate finance and capacity building aid from advanced countries to develop and promote the use of energy from alternative renewable resources, while at the same time, preserving our depleting fossil resources.”
With the assistance of experts such as University of California, Berkeley’s professor of renewable energy Dr Daniel M Kammen and his team who had submitted a proposal to the state government last year, See said the state had the ability to lead the nation in developing and building its energy capacity from sustainable and renewable sources.
Jonathan Chia, firstname.lastname@example.org