Environment: Sarawak Dam Plans Controversial

Updated On: Jul 23, 2008

The Malaysian state of Sarawak plans to build 12 hydroelectric dams to meet its future industrialisation needs. The move has got environmentalists up in arms, questioning the need for the dams and the planned development of the state. They also suggested that Sarawak's national park may be threatened.
However, government officials claim the dams will be necessary to meet energy demands.
The new dams are in addition to the existing Bakun dam, which has been highly controversial after landmark court challenges. The Bakun dam already has a capacity of 2,400MW and the new dams will increase Sarawak’s total generating capacity to 7,000MW by 2020. This would represent a new 7 fold increase from, Sarawak’s current energy output of 933MW.
The dam plans were in a presentation entitled Chinese Power Plants in Malaysia – Present and Future Development in October last year at the China-Asean Power Cooperation and Development Forum in Nanning, China. Chinese companies were expected to design, build and commission the dams, the presentation said.
One project in Murum is scheduled to begin this year with a memorandum of understanding already signed between the Sarawak Energy Board and China Three Gorges Project Corporation.
According to media reports, the Sarawak Government has already approved the building of an aluminium smelter by local company Press Metal Bhd. Others which have shown interest includes China’s Luneng Group, Smelter Asia Sdn Bhd, Alcon Inc, Mitsubishi Corp, BHP Billiton Ltd and Australia’s Rio Tinto. Such smelters would be expected to need much of the power to be generated.

Source: Star, Wednesday July 23, 2008 Sarawak to build 12 dams to meet future power needs, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/7/23/nation/21894319&sec...

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