KUCHING: Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has challenged critics of the state’s hydroelectricity programme to come up with better alternative source of energy.
“I would like to throw a challenge at them (critics) on two fronts. Firstly, please provide us with the best source of alternative power besides fossil fuel, and secondly, they have to stop breathing if they criticise just for the sake of criticising,” Masing told The Borneo Post here yesterday.
He was commenting on South-East Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (Searepa)’s fierce criticism over the weekend of the state government’s intention to develop 12 dams to support the mammoth Sarawak Corridor of renewable Energy (Score).
These dams are to produce some 20,000 megawatt of electricity by 2030 to push the state to full industrialisation status.
SCORE is expected to employ some 1.5 million workers and would attract some RM300 billion worth of investments.
Searepa, during its regional meeting in Kota Kinabalu which was attended by more than 120 participants representing 11 nations in South-East Asia, made a declaration to reject the development of these 12 proposed dams.
It also urged the state government to abide by international standards in protecting indigenous people.
Searepa also said that it had discussed renewable energy problems in the nation and claimed that it was concerned with the construction of the mega dams to power polluting industries in the state.
“Across South-East Asia, we have witnessed the inefficiency, failure, and destruction caused by similar mega-dam projects. We have also witnessed the potential of community-based renewable energy projects and unanimously believe that instead of continuing to develop these mega-dams, there are many energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially and culturally inclusive,” Searepa was quoted as saying.
Masing said the state government decided to focus on hydroelectricity as it was deemed to be the best choice when compared to other renewable energy such as solar and nuclear.
“Hydro-electricity is renewable and clean. What better source of energy do we have when we do not have the capability to develop our solar energy? On top of that, we are also unable to venture into nuclear energy as it could be very expensive and destructive.”
Masing reiterated that the state government would build the 12 mega dams as and when they were needed. “The 12 proposed dams are just the potential number of dams that could produce electricity on a commercial scale. At the moment, we don’t have to develop all of them.”
So far, out of the 12 proposed HEP dams, the state had built two: Bakun (2,400 MW) and the 70 per cent completed Murum (944 MW).
The remaining 10 on the drawing board are Lawas (50 MW), Limbang (150 MW), Tutoh (220 MW), Baram (1,000 MW), Belepeh (110 MW), Metwajah (300 MW), Belaga (260 MW), Linau (290 MW), Baleh/Putai (1400 MW), and Ulu Air (54 MW).