Bakun reservoir - 695 sq km - ready to be filled

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, the developer of the RM6bil Bakun hydroelectric project (HEP), is awaiting state approval to start filling up the reservoir next month.

“The minimum requirements for impounding (which refers to the process of closing the diversion tunnels gates to allow water levels to rise) are there,’’ managing director Zulkifle Othman told StarBiz. “We are in the process of obtaining the state’s approval to impound.’’

Documents have been submitted pertaining to, among others, the impoundment manual, reservoir filling certification report and emergency response plan to the Sarawak government.

About eight months are required following the impoundment process to allow the water level to reach the minimum operating level of 195m above sea level.

The overall completion of Bakun HEP is 93% and the main civil works, 95%. Power is to be supplied by eight turbines being built by Alstom and IMPSA.

Work done by Alstom is 92% complete and IMPSA, 86% while work on the switchyard, which is undertaken by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), is 49% complete.

Handing over of units by Alstom is scheduled for October and December next year, and February and April in 2011. IMPSA’s four units are scheduled to be handed over in January, April, July and October 2011.

Besides work on the dam, Sarawak Hidro is also doing biomass removal for the state to utilise the land within the reservoir area for future economic development activities. This is undertaken with the consent of the state in nine places covering 400ha.

The Bakun HEP has a catchment area of 14,750 sq km and reservoir area at its maximum supply level of 228m above sea level of 695 sq km.

A transmission line of 275kV is being built by Sarawak Energy Bhd, connecting Bakun Switchyard to Similajau, and is to be completed by July 2010. This will be the grid system for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

For undersea cable transmission to Peninsular Malaysia, a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from the Bakun converter is to be connected to the submarine cable which will start from Kampung Pueh across Indonesian waters to Tanjung Leman in Johor onto the HVDC transmission line to the converter substation in Bentong, Pahang.

Dialogues are currently being held with the local people and corporate responsibility programmes are ongoing to supply water to schools and longhouses from Bakun to Belaga.

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