KUCHING: The state government will look into former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s suggestion of building smaller cascading hydropower dams to reduce the environmental impact.
Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the proposal needed to be studied further as it would be more costly.
“At the moment we are looking into this. For example, the (dam) we plan to do in Trusan is more or less cascading. But what Tun Mahathir has suggested, to build a wall on both sides of the river, it involves so much more in terms of cost so we have to look into that,” he told reporters after opening the International Energy Week 2015 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching yesterday.
Dr Mahathir, in presenting the keynote address, had suggested the construction of cascading dams with walls along the riverbanks, such as the ones built on the Danube River in Europe, in order not to inundate big areas of land as in the case of large dams.
“There are almost 10 dams along the Danube and the surrounding land is not lost to agriculture. If you take up my suggestion to build walls, then you would not lose any land,” he said, adding that this was a way of saving the forest but still being able to generate electricity.
In his speech earlier, Awang Tengah said the state was developing its hydropower potential in its industrialisation effort under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).
He said Score had attracted many foreign and domestic projects in heavy and energy-intensive industries since its launch in 2008, particularly in the Samalaju Industrial Park.
“To date, 15 companies with a total investment of more than RM25bil have been approved to be located at Samalaju Industrial Park. We have another RM5.4bil worth of investment outside Samalaju, making about RM30.4bil worth of investment within the Score area,” he said.
Awang Tengah said four companies – Press Metal Bintulu Sdn Bhd, Tokuyama Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Iwatani-SIG Gases Sdn Bhd and OM Materials (Samalaju) Sdn Bhd – had commenced manufacturing operations at Samalaju.
In addition, Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd were constructing their plants while Cosmos Chemicals Bhd, Elkem Carbon Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Malaysian Phosphate Additives (Sarawak) were carrying out site preparatory works.
“Other companies that have been approved and issued with manufacturing licences are at various pre-implementation stages. There are also investors currently at various stages of discussion with the state government on their interest to invest in Score,” Awang Tengah said.
He also said the government was determined to protect the environment of Samalaju to ensure that it remained sustainable and attractive to investors and the local community.
“In this respect, the state government has already planned for an integrated waste management system in Samalaju and the project is currently in the pipeline,” he said.