New dams in peninsula despite Bakun undersea cables

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Now comes news that Tenaga is planning two new hydroelectric plants in Terengganu and Pahang (see report below).

Doesn’t this fly against the justification for the laying of submarine cables to transmit electricity from the Bakun Dam in Sarawak to the peninsula – that there would be no need for expensive new capacity on the peninsula?

Energy Minister Peter Chin said last month that the Cabinet had agreed that opting for the Bakun submarine cable project would be better than continuing to build new power plants in the peninsula. “In the long term, it will be more economical and viable to transmit power from Bakun to Peninsular Malaysia even though the undersea cable project will be very costly,” he said.

So, what’s going on?  Was Peter Chin unaware of these two new dams in the peninsula – or was he simply having us on?

Malaysia has more than 50 per cent in excess power capacity. Can we really believe that this excess capacity will drop to 25 per cent by 2013 if no new capacity is added, as Tenaga forecasts?

Even if it drops to 25 per cent, isn’t that adequate for our needs especially as the government is now trying to increase the services component – which doesn’t consume as much electricity as manufacturing – of the economy.

Already, extensive logging is being carried out at the site of a new 212MW dam in Kuala Berang, Terengganu. See report here.

Is this another manifestation of a disease afflicting the country which we can ill-afford: construct, pocket the profits of construction (and of logging), and leave the people with humongous white elephants or worse?

This from the Business Times/Bloomberg:

Meanwhile, Tenaga will invite bids next month for the construction of two hydroelectric plants valued at RM2.8 billion.

Five groups, including companies from Europe, Japan and China, have pre-qualified to bid for the hydro plants in Pahang and Terengganu states with a combined capacity of 500 megawatts,

Tenaga expects to announce the winner by the end of the year for building to start in 2010, he said.

The state-controlled utility, with annual generation capacity of 11,942 megawatts, needs to secure supply as it predicts its excess capacity to drop to 25 per cent by 2013 from more than 50 per cent now, Che Khalib said.

“The current capacity can take us up to 2013, 2014,” said Che Khalib. “By then new capacity will be needed.”

The two plants would add to the 2,400-megawatt hydroelectric dam being built in Sarawak on Borneo, planned to start operating in 2010.

The Bakun hydroelectric project, which will flood an area the size of Singapore in the rainforest interior of Borneo, was revived in 2001 after being postponed twice, once because of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

Tenaga, which expects to own 40 per cent of the sub-sea cable project to transmit the electricity from Bakun to peninsular Malaysia, plans to invite international bids for the construction of the cables in early 2010, Che Khalib said.

Sarawak Energy Bhd and the Ministry of Finance are the other two shareholders of the project.

“We will require about six months for the evaluation” of the bids, he said. Based on his calculation, the physical works would start in 2011 and the first line would be completed in 2015. As much as 1,600 megawatts of electricity will be transmitted to the peninsular from Bakun, Che Khalib said.

About 30 per cent of the project may be funded by equity, which Tenaga will pay by cash, and the rest by ringgit debt, he said. Tenaga will start raising borrowings to fund the power transmission project in the middle of 2010, he said.

The first debt issue would be to cover the cost of the first stage of the project in the first two years, Che Khalib said. “We won’t do it all in one go” in order for the local market to be able to absorb it, he said, declining to disclose any figures.- Bloomberg

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anti antiestablishment

dear all first of all lets put politic outside of the forum. in order to built a dam, it usually take years to finish, bear in mind that it would not finisg in few weeks. furthermore, if these electricity reserved are not built in todays time, it will COST MORE IN THE FUTURE. and if suddenly there are surge in the electricity demand, and the reserved cannot comply with the demand, it is really sure that we will have a energy ration. it is not far in the future, says 10 years are really short in energy planning. if a… Read more »

Gadfly

So far no country in the world has managed to solve the extremely toxic and extremely long surviving nuclear waste, including Korea. It takes a mind boggling time scale of 240,000 years or 12,000 generations for plutonium in nuclear waste to become harmless. No containers in the world can do that. The sales gimmick of the nuclear indusry is trying to promote nuclear energy as economic and efficient. By simple arithmetic, if you include the maintenance costs of keeping the dangerous waste for thousands and thousands of years, how ‘economic’ it can be? The hidden maintence,social and environmental costs must… Read more »

Gustri

What can I say Anil.. Malaysia is a dam-nation (no pun intended)..

amoker

Bakun and 13 hydroelectric in Sarawak. 2 more in Peninsular, a useless coal station in Port Dickson and they are thinking of building a nuclear station. HOw does TNB expect to achieve profit when they don’t know what to do.

anna brella

If there is no real need for them, why build more dams for HEP stations that end up destroying more rainforests which in turn further aggravates the current adverse climate change situation? Why, when so many other countries are now seriously looking for new renewable energy sources and production methods, and so focussing on R&D on these new green technologies, is Malaysia still insisting on being so backward-looking? Nuclear power, although cleaner, is clearly very dangerous and a non-option IMO (given the building cock-ups usual there) while HEP damming projects are irreversibly destructive for the tropical rainforest habitat and its… Read more »

robin hood

Another first for Bolehland. The country with the most amount of surplus electricity in the whole wide world.

Anon

Gadfly I believe has hit the matter on the head. Who is doing this planning and exactly what are their plans? Last week TNB’s CEO has claimed that Malaysia’s electricity demand is set to contract this year before marginally recovering by 3% next year. Yesterday however, in The Star’s piece featuring TNB Nuclear Unit’s arguments on the need for Malaysia to invest in nuclear generation capacity, a graph depicting the nation’s future demand forecast was given which I noted, varies by a mere 20,000 MW between the Government’s expectation for the future and TNB’s pessimistic planning scenario up to the… Read more »

mey

And now Najib has said after his South Korean visit that Malaysia is looking into the possibility of building a small scale Nuclear power plant like those existing in South Korea, as they are ‘efficient’ and ‘economical’ in the long run! I am bewildered. Nuclear energy is a false economy in my opinion, the ecological backlash created by nuclear energy far outweighs the benefits. An uranium rod will get worn out when 10% of it is used in nuclear energy production. That means 90% of it is wasted. This information was got from TV channels like NGC & Discovery. And… Read more »

vsp

Tenaga also wants to build nuclear power facilities.

And so the gravy train keeps on moving…

donplaypuks

In the not too distant future, we will have enough electricity reserves to export to the whole world. I think that is Tenaga’s and the Govt’s aim with all this redundant power projects smelling like ‘extreme pump priming’. That is, if they don’t bankrput the nation’s treasury first while trying to shore up flagging support voter support for UMNO/BN in Trengganu & Pahang, which are likely to fall to the opposition come GE 2013. Is it a coincidence that Pahang is Najib’s home state? And why on earth is Tenaga then pulling out all stops to go nuclear in 2025… Read more »

Perumal

They say we malaysians always forget the bad things/corruptions alegations/scandals that BN/UMNO and its members have committed over time. Hence, I think it is about time that a malaysian blogger list down the allegation/scandals etc in his website or a unique. This is so that the rakyat will always remember and never forget. When it is time to cast our votes in the next GE on 2013, the rakyat can be redirected to this link to refresh their memory.

richardlion

i believe these Dams are part of Najib “stimulus” project to up our economic.

on “Why Mas Selamat is jailed in Malaysia” bcos Malaysia have ISA and no human rights…

i wonder whether Parliment has approved what Najib been doing??????.

tuah

Peter Chin? He is clueless …. He does not know which end of a switch is up or down.

Gadfly

Anil, thanks for keeping us informed about the sheer irrationality of our energy policy of having back-up of the back-up of the back-up of the back-up, especially of hydoelectric power. However, I would like to draw your attention to the alarming note written by Mahatir in his blog recently saying ” … I think the authorities should rethink the idea of nuclear power plants.” I do not know how far down the road on the nuclear power generation. There should be more critical discussion on this – nuclear waste storage, nuclear accidents, and future reprocessing of nuclear waste for nuclear… Read more »

Ganesh

Hopefully, whatever built would be built with quality materials. Don’t let it become like the Terengganu Stadium, just only 1 year old, it collapses.

Everybody is laughing.

And we want to be First World by 2020? That is only 10 years time!