Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has received formal approval from the state government to proceed with the construction of the 1,285 mega watt Baleh dam, its second mega dam after Murum.
It is the company’s second hydropower project under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative after Murum; its first hydropower project was the 100MW Batang Ai dam which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
Sarawak’s third mega dam is the 2,400 mega watt Bakun which is owned by the federal government.
“We are pleased to announce that we have received official approval of the project from the State Cabinet, following the approval of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment report by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) last year,” SEB group chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said today.
Construction work on the first of eight packages for Baleh will begin before year end with the entire project scheduled for completion in 2025.
Unlike the controversial Baram dam, which has since been scrapped following strong objections by the local communities as it would displace over 20,000 indigenous people, Sjotveit said the upstream of the Baleh dam is not inhibited by indigenous communities and would not involve any resettlement issue.
“Baleh dam is set to meet the anticipated strong growth in demand for electricity especially in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu,” he said, adding that the energy demand has accelerated with energy sales growing from 4,700 Gwh in 2009 to more than 20,000 Gwh in 2016.
“From 2010 to 2015, energy capacity (electricity that can be produced from power plants) increased significantly from 1,300MW to 4,600MW, expected to rise to 5,300MW by 2020.
“About 3,000 MW has been committed to Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy industries and export customers through 14 agreements,” Sjotveit said.
He also said Baleh will be the biggest dam to be developed by SEB and move Sarawak closer towards achieving high-income status through industrialisation by 2030.