Wednesday, March 20

First turbine unit ready for Murum Dam

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Representatives from SEB and Three Gorges posing for a group photo with the first turbine unit in the background.

BINTULU: The first power-generating turbine of the Murum Hydroelectricity Project (HEP) has completed its reliability run and is now ready for operation.

It is the first of four units having undergone rigorous testing to prepare for the dam’s full commissioning by the second quarter of next year.

Yesterday, a ceremony was held at the HEP powerhouse to signify the official handover of the first turbine unit to SEB from contractor Three Gorges Development Company (M) Sdn Bhd.

Present to witness the ceremony and to officiate at the running of the first set was SEB chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi, who was accompanied by the company’s senior management team led by senior vice president for project execution Einar Kilde, and vice-president for hydro Polycarp HF Wong.

Coming on behalf of Three Gorges was general manager Zhao Jian Qiang.

“With the full commissioning of Murum HEP next year, our generation mix will be about 75 per cent hydro and 25 per cent thermal. This will lead to a more secure, sustainable and affordable energy to power the state’s development agenda,” said Hamed, adding that the state government’s strategy was to develop the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) by harnessing its abundant hydropower potential in driving its economic growth, job creation and development of wealth for its people.

SEB, he said, would also be on track to grow the output and consumption of power in the state by more than eight-fold, from approximately 5,000GWh in 2009 to approximately 40,000 GWh in 2020.

“Sarawak will eventually be ranked among the energy giants such as Norway, Iceland and Canada in becoming one of the most energy-rich regions in the world, measured per capita. The commissioning of the Murum dam is therefore only the ‘end of the beginning’,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the SEB chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, Wong said that with the full commissioning of Murum HEP, the state’s energy supply would reach about 4,500MW to power up SCORE Phase 1.

“Murum HEP also marks a major step in SEB’s sustainable development journey through our strategic participation as an International Hydro Power Association (IHA) sustainability partner.This is an area that we want to further focus on especially in the way we develop our hydropower projects with a long-term perspective of continued improvement.

“The IHA Sustainability Protocol that SEB is guided by covers a wide spectrum of sustainability topics such as social, environment, safety and governance. Through our early work here, I look forward to the day when SEB becomes a global benchmark for sustainability in hydropower development,” he said.

Murum HEP is the second hydroelectric project belonging to SEB, following the Batang Ai HEP which was commissioned in 1984.

The Murum HEP is innovative in its design with the tallest steeped chute spillway in the world, which is currently undergoing testing. Due to the dam’s uniqueness, it has become a subject of interest to many people including dam designers, contractors and engineers.

Impoundment of the reservoir began on Sept 21 last year and by now, it has reached supply level.

Each of the main turbine units has a maximum generating capacity of 236MW. The dam’s powerhouse stores the four vertical Francis turbines, which will allow a total installed capacity of 944MW.

Another work in progress at Murum includes the Ecological Power Station, which functions to ensure that the ecosystem of the upper reach of Murum River would remain active.

It houses two 3.7MW horizontal Francis turbines, with a total installed capacity of 7.4 MW.