‘Hydropower for high income economy’

Awang Tengah speaks at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China.

KUCHING: The development of the hydropower sector provides the foundation for Sarawak’s strategy to reach a high income economy by 2020 through the establishment of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this in turn would trigger growth and job opportunities for Sarawak, particularly for those in the remote interior living near hydropower sites.

“The essence of SCORE is to industrialise the state by leveraging on Sarawak’s competitive advantage in bulk hydropower.

“In doing so, we are able to attract investors mainly from energy intensive industries – thereby promoting growth, jobs and development for Sarawak, including those in the interior and indigenous people living near the hydropower sites,” he said at the World Hydropower Congress (WHC) 2015 plenary session entitled ‘Assessing Demand and Opportunities: ASIA’ on the final day of the conference in Beijing, China yesterday.

He elaborated that the sustainable development of hydropower projects also provided the opportunity for other spin-off economic development activities such as agriculture, eco-tourism and aquaculture potential of the lakes.

“The scale of activity under SCORE is spectacular with an inbound investment of about RM30 billion (USD$8.5 billion).

“Currently, the state’s generation capacity mix comprises 75 per cent hydropower and 25 per cent thermal sources. By 2020, to ensure an optimal generation capacity mix, hydropower will remain dominant at around 60 per cent with thermal at 40 per cent,” he said.

Awang Tengah was speaking alongside fellow panellists Pakistan Water and Power State Minister Abid Sher Ali, Asian Development Bank East Asia Division director Ashok Bhargava, Nepal Ministry of Energy joint secretary Keshab Dhoj Adhikari, Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power deputy minister Maw Thar Htwe, Barki Tojik chairman Rustam Rahmatzoda, International Finance Corporation (IFC) chief investment officer Raghuveer Sharma, and Laos Energy of Mines vice-minister Viraphonh Viravong.

He shared the state government’s concern about social issues and environmental sustainability associated with hydropower development.

“In this respect, we are proud that the state-owned utility, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), was among the first utilities in the world to become a ‘Sustainability Partner’ of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

“The state will continue to be guided by international standards and protocols in the development of hydropower in Sarawak as well as in managing the social and environmental challenges involved,” he said.

Awang Tengah also informed the audience of Sarawak’s experience in Murum HEP resettlement where affected communities are assured of continued support from the government and SEB to ensure their socio-economic condition improves after the resettlement.

“These arrangements are in line with our guiding principle and the state’s policy to eradicate poverty so resettled communities would better off than they were before,” he said.

He told the congress that Sarawak’s initiatives in generating bulk hydropower had benefited its people and enabled Sarawakians to enjoy cheaper tariffs.

“This means that everyone in Sarawak receives a fair share of the benefits secured by our development of hydropower. We are proud that the published tariffs for ordinary consumers, if not the lowest, are among the lowest in Asean.” Summing up, Awang Tengah reiterated that Sarawak had progressed very much due to the development of the energy sector, mainly hydro.

“We are able to industrialise and uplift the socio-economic status of our people. This is the way forward for Sarawak to industrialise and improve our economic growth. As a partner to IHA, we are committed to advancing sustainable hydropower development,” he said.

The session also heard from other panellists the crucial role hydropower played in energy security and in engineering the development of developing countries like Laos, Myanmar and Pakistan among others.



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