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Friday December 3, 2010

Mag pours cold water on Sabah coal plant

KOTA KINABALU: A controversial coal-fired power plant project in Sabah’s east coast has caught the attention of Time magazine, which reported that it was “hard to imagine a worse place” to build such a facility.

In the Nov 27 article appearing in its online edition (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2031862,00.html), the magazine described Sabah as an eco-paradise.

In the article titled “Malaysia: A coal plant in paradise”, writer Jennifer Pinkowski pointed out that on one side of Sabah was the Coral Triangle, “home to the world’s richest ocean diversity; to the other is the Heart of Borneo, a 22-million-hectare rainforest. In the middle is a vast swath of 1,100 palm plantations.”

She acknowledged that electricity demand in the state was set to increase at a rate of 7.7% a year until 2020.

To meet these needs, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd was building seven power stations – fuelled either by natural gas, hydro-power or diesel.

One of the seven new stations is the proposed 300MW coal-fired plant that had been twice relocated from Silam near Lahad Datu to Sandakan and now to Tungku, also near Lahad Datu.

Pinkowski noted that the final site for the coal-fired plant had been announced just before Malaysia’s pledge at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen that the country, already a Kyoto Protocol signatory, would reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.

She said in this regard, Sabah’s abundant sunshine, geothermal sources, extensive network of strong rivers and a long coastline gave it the potential to make Malaysia a regional leader in clean energy.

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