Sarawak Energy Continues With Research Programme For Greater Sustainability Standards

Kuching, 30th August, 2017, Wednesday: Sarawak Energy will continue its research into the environmental aspect of hydroelectric dams in line with its commitment towards high standards of sustainability.

Speaking at the opening of the Biodiversity and Ecology Seminar that was held at Menara Sarawak Energy recently, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services, Aisah Eden said Sarawak Energy is working closely with institutions of higher learning and hydropower sustainability specialists to ensure that the State’s utility company is meeting the global sustainability standards and expectation.

“Sarawak Energy is committed to develop clean and renewable energy in the State and developing hydropower in accordance with the internationally accredited sustainability principles covering the four pillars of sustainability in economic, technical, social and environmental aspects of the project,” Aisah said.

“Findings of the research will enable us to address any emerging concerns as well as to demonstrate to our globally based customers of our commitment and ability to deliver truly green and sustainable energy for their businesses,” she added. Results from the research would also facilitate in decision-making for future sustainable project development.

The one-day seminar was jointly organised by Sarawak Energy and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) to present the findings of their collaboration into studies of aquatic and terrestrial ecology and biodiversity under the former’s Hydropower Environmental Sustainability Programme. Vice President of Research and Development Dr Chen Shiun, Sarawak Energy staff as well as staff and students from UNIMAS were also present.

In his closing remark, Dr Chen Shiun said, “Sarawak Energy is a key partner in the State Government’s drive for continuous development. However, one of the ways that we can give back to the state is to minimise the impact on the environment.”

 “This seminar is a step forward in cultivating interest in biodiversity and ecology in the State. Moving forward, we hope that this will lead to a greater effort to support conservation,” he added.

The Aquatic Ecology and Biodiversity studies was led by Professor Dr Lee Nyanti while the studies on Terrestrial Fauna Ecology and Biodiversity was led by Professor Dr Andrew Alek Tuen.

In the course of their studies, the researchers had discovered a new species of water skink at one of the streams in Batang Baleh tributaries in 2015. The new discovery was subsequently named Tropidophorus sebi, derived from the acronym “SEB” which stands for Sarawak Energy Berhad with a latinised version of genitive ending “i”, in recognition of the funding from the utility company.

“As such, we foresee more opportunities for research collaboration between UNIMAS and Sarawak Energy in the future and we look forward to this,” Aisah said.

Besides collaborating with institutions of higher learning, Sarawak Energy has also engaged an internationally recognised hydropower sustainability specialist, Dr Helen Locher, together with experts from the International Hydropower Association, to conduct a review on the phase 1 of the Hydropower Environmental Sustainability Programme end of last year, to further streamline the context and framework of programme.

“With the review of outcomes, Sarawak Energy is now planning the next phase of this research programme to ensure we continue to make strides towards high standards of sustainability”, she added.

At the same seminar, delegates also heard from Professor Lee that his team of 108 students completed the first phase of the studies within 3 years. Their scope of studies included establishing the environmental baseline data and identifying pertinent environmental issues. The data were collected from Baleh, Pelagus, Baram, Murum and Batang Ai areas.

As for Professor Dr Andrew, his team of eight students collected their data in Pelagus, Baleh and Ulu Baram. During their research, they had recorded 229 species of birds, 51 species of bats and more than 50 species of reptiles. They had also captured on camera 35 medium to large mammals, most of which are of high conservation value.

A total of seven papers were presented during the seminar. Among them were on water and sediment quality in relation to aquatic fauna; macroinvertebrates fauna of three major rivers; and two man-made reservoirs and distribution of heavy metals in the environment.

Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Aisah Eden talking to (from left) Professor Dr Lee Nyanti, Professor Dr Andrew Alek Tuen and Dr Chen Shiun, Vice President of Research and Development

A section of the delegates at the seminar

Dr Chen Shiun (left) presenting a memento to Professor Dr Andrew Alek Tuen

Dr Chen Shiun (left) presenting a memento to Professor Dr Lee Nyanti