Batang Ai HEP, Proof Of Concept For The Future Of Sustainable Energy In Sarawak

Sarawak’s first hydroelectric plant stands the test of time producing reliable, renewable energy after 30 years in operation.

BATANG AI, 21st AUGUST 2015, FRIDAY: Batang Ai hydroelectric plant (HEP), the first milestone project in Sarawak Energy’s journey towards renewable energy in Sarawak celebrated 30 years of operational excellence today.

The commemoration of this structural engineering marvel was marked on a grand scale officiated by the Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu who was instrumental in ensuring Batang Ai HEP’s on time completion and within cost. Also present were Welfare Assistant Minister Robert Lawson Chuat and Batang Ai Assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh.

The event also saw the attendance of Sarawak Energy senior management team led by its Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit. Among them were Executive Vice President of Sarawak Energy and Chief Executive Officer of SESCO Lu Yew Hung and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Aisah Eden.

Batang Ai, the largest civil engineering project undertaken in the state at that time, was commended for its efficient performance for over 30 years as well as being pivotal in transforming the local landscape both physically and socio-economically.

In his speech, Torstein said Batang Ai was testament of Sarawak’s ability to construct, implement and operate hydroelectric power plants

“The successful construction, implementation and operation of Batang Ai HEP gave Sarawakians valuable knowledge and experience in designing, building and operating hydroelectric power plants. Although three decades would pass before Sarawak Energy embarked on our next hydropower project in Murum, it certainly marked the beginning of a significant change on how Sarawak would be powered.

“Batang Ai showed how we could harness the abundant potential of Sarawak’s rivers to produce clean, reliable and sustainable energy and in the process reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.

He said not only did the hydroelectric plant increased the state’s generation capacity by delivering an additional 108 megawatts of power to Kuching, it also brought about economic opportunities to the people in Batang Ai and its surrounding areas.

“The area began to see the construction of better infrastructures like roads, expanding markets for local farmers so they could move to cash crops from subsistence farming, aquaculture development which led to the Batang Ai eco-fish brand and enabling ecotourism facilitating the establishment of Batang Ai National Park in 1989. The national park, which is within the HEP’s catchment area, is now one of the world’s leading locations for wild Orang-Utan conservation and research,” he said.

Sarawak Energy has also built strong partnership with the Batang Ai communities through continuous engagements and community assistance plans like supporting the nearby schools through parents-teachers associations and conducting log clearing exercises around the reservoir to provide safe access to villagers travelling on boats.

For this 30th anniversary and in recognition of this long term partnership, Sarawak Energy is allocating around RM2mil as social investment for the communities in Batang Ai.

The assistance encompasses rewiring works for all the 22 resettled longhouses and a token of appreciation to the development committees of the villages, 6 host communities and the local church. Sarawak Energy through its corporate social responsibility initiative is also equipping 5 longhouses including Rumah Kino and Rumah Manggat that are remotely located from the power grid with solar home systems.

In addition, the State Government has launched the RIMBA project or the Research for Intensified Management of Bio-rich areas which will provide a broad blueprint for future forest and biodiversity management within the bio-rich areas of Batang Ai in the Batang Ai HEP’s catchment area. Sarawak Energy will work together with the state to ensure the project’s success.

The Batang Ai HEP is an award winning showcase of operational and environmental excellence due to its safe design, timely maintenance and technical competence of its workforce. The plant currently employs around 90 people and this includes the local community.

As part of Sarawak Energy’s constant upkeep of its assets, Batang Ai HEP’s turbines and generators would be fully refurbished to increase power output by 8 per cent to 10 per cent to improve the plant’s efficiency creating value and sustainability 30 years and beyond.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu congratulates Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit on Batang Ai Hydroelectric Plant’s 30th Anniversary of operational excellence as (third left) Lubok Antu MP Datuk William Nyalau Badak, (from second right) Welfare Assistant Minister Robert Lawson Chuat, Batang Ai Assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh and others look on.

A miring ceremony was held to bless the event as well as for the smooth running of the Batang Ai Hydroelectric Plant in years to come.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, Executive Vice President of Sarawak Energy and Chief Executive Officer of SESCO Lu Yew Hung, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Aisah Eden and distinguished guests pose with representatives from the 22 resettled longhouses, six host communities and a local church who received a token of appreciation at the event.

Journalists interviewing Mr Tetsuo Fujii, Batang Ai Hydroelectric Dam project manager, who was specially invited to the event in recognition for his pivotal role in the dam’s construction. [read other news]

Batang Ai Hydropower Plant 30th Anniversary commemorative stamps.