SCORE: Developing Sarawak


Bakun Hydroelectric Dam: Backbone for SCORE developmentWith the growing demand for clean sustainable energy globally, Bakun Hydroelectic Dam (Bakun Dam) is set to become the power backbone for Sarawak’s SCORE development, supplying affordable energy for heavy industries as well as for commercial and domestic requirements moving forward.

One of the biggest dams of its kind in the world, Bakun Dam hydroelectric power house was slated to generate 2,400MW of power once fully commissioned.

It would be the prime electricity source for industries at Samalaju Industrial Park and the surrounding areas.

“It will provide plenty of energy guarantees for foreign investors and entrepreneurs to set up tourism, industrial and agro-related businesses,” said Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Hidro) chairman Tan Sri Izzudin Dali who is responsible for developing and managing Bakun Dam.

“We want to ensure we meet all those targets that we have agreed on.

“Our objectives over the next two years is to achieve all that we have promised and not have any technical problems,” he added.

The RM7 billion Bakun Dam is the second tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam in the world and rises 236 metres above sea level.

The crest is 750 metres long and its entire system, including the swathe of land that had to be flooded, is almost the size of Singapore.

The proximity of the Bakun Dam was one of the main criteria that the world’s top companies such as Tokuyama Corp and Asia Mineral decided to invest in the Samalaju project.

Tokuyama Corp president and managing director Akira Sanuki said the company had previously targeted a factory in Kerala (India) but was swayed by Sarawak’s preferential tax laws and the Bakun Dam which would supply Tokuyama Corp with 140MW of power.

“We looked around the region and almost decided on Kerala,” Sanuki was quoted as saying in the Inside Sarawak 2011 investment report.

“However, we took a u-turn and came over to Sarawak and witnessed the massive development ourselves.

“From the research, I believe Bakun Dam will be able to provide us with sufficient power for our operations.” The powerhouse is located at the base of the dam.

It accomodated eight turbines, each having 300MW of generating capacity. The first turbine started producing power on the August 16, 2011.

Subsequently, a new turbine was to be cranked into operation every two to three months until all eight were functioning smoothly to generate maximum power of 2,400MW.

“Since the turbine came into operation providing energy, Sarawak has been taking all the energy that we produce,” said Izzudin.

Apart from that, he also pointed out that the Bakun Dam would have a great potential as a tourism attraction.

“There is a hotel based on the concept of longhouses and in the evening, tourists can go on a boat ride while enjoying the sunset.

“There are tremendous potentials ahead for business tourism players,” added Izzudin.

On the market front, Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) had also agreed to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Sarawak Hidro, allowing SEB to take up the entire energy output of the dam.

In combination with the off-take agreements signed, the PPA meant that the full potential of the Sarawak government’s SCORE agenda was now firmly within reach.

By ‘blending’ the relatively low cost power secured from Bakun Dam into SEB’s generation portfolio, SEB had taken a big step forward towards developing the full range of new power projects identified in the Sarawak government’s SCORE initiatives.

The company was also halfway through the Murum hydroelectric project that was expected to generate 976MW of power while plans were afoot for five more hydroelectric stations and two coal plants to be completed before 2020. All this energy needed to be distributed to users and, to that end, SEB was building a 500-kilometre 500kV state transmission backbone.

It estimated that it would invest not more than RM30 million in the years leading up to 2020, which was Sarawak’s target for achieving high-income status in tandem with federal goals.