Najib already promised to cut pullution in Malaysian by 20% but still
build coal power plant using imported coal, while Sabah huge gas
reserves, so huge that it is economical to build a more than 200km RM
2billion pipeline to Bintulu to be exported to West Malaysia.
So West Malaysia will be clean why Sabah will be absolutely dirty.
Borneo Can Say "No" to Coal Power
By Jeremy Hance
Mongabay.com, March 22, 2010
CREDIT: Jeremy Hance © 2010.
Plans for a coal power plant in the Malaysian state of Sabah in
northern Borneo have run into stiff opposition. Environmentalists say
the coal plant could damage extensive coral reef systems, pollute
water supplies, open rain forests to mining, and contribute to global
climate change, undercutting Sabah's image as a "green" destination.
The federal government contends that the coal plant is necessary to
fix Sabah's energy problems, yet a recent energy audit by the
Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University
of California, Berkeley shows that pollution-intensive coal doesn't
have to be in Sabah's future.
"We found that energy efficiency, biofuels, hydropower, and geothermal
provide immediate advantages for the region over fossil fuels, and
that in time both solar and ocean energy could provide even more
energy than coal, while building jobs and a clean environment,"
Professor Daniel Kammen, director of RAEL, told mongabay.com.
Commissioned by Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future), a
coalition of NGOs that oppose the planned 300 MW coal plant, Kammen
examined Sabah's energy options, including traditional fossil fuels,
biomass waste, hydropower, solar, wind, and geothermal. The analysis
also looked at the cost of each of these options to consumers, taking
into consideration that an independent energy producer would require a
certain return on their investment.
The study found that using biomass waste from Sabah's extensive oil-
palm plantations could provide a significant boost in energy to the
state while being cost-competitive with coal. This solution would also
deal with a waste-disposal problem for the oil-palm plantations.
"The large scale of palm oil, and other biomasses means that this
'waste' is a huge resource," says Kammen, though he also stresses that
oil-palm plantations are not without their own environmental problems.
"The challenge is not the technology, but in managing a wider issue,
the growth in palm oil estates that have their own significant
negative impacts on the region, despite their economic benefits."
Using 2008 data from the palm oil industry, Kammen's report found that
by 2020 oil-palm waste could provide a staggering 700 MW. 400 MW (one
hundred more than the planned coal plant) would be achievable under a
proposed 4-year program.
Hydropower was also found to be cost-competitive with coal and more
environmentally friendly, while geothermal was found to be only
slightly more expensive than coal. A location has already been
identified on the east coast of Sabah for a 67 MW geothermal power
Kammen adds that Sabah shouldn't rule out solar energy. "Solar energy
is a far better but a bit longer-term resource than is widely
appreciated today," he says.
The cheapest way forward overall is to pursue reduction in energy
demand, according to the analysis.
Despite the many environmental problems known to accompany coal power,
the coal plant is being pushed by both the federal Tenaga Nasional
Berhad and the state energy company, Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd.
Opposition from locals has forced the coal plant to move its location—
twice. Now the plan is to build it on Sabah's east coast, within the
Coral Triangle, an area known for astounding marine biodiversity. In
addition, conservationists fear the coal plant's transmissions will
cut through some of the region's last intact rain forest in Tabin
Wildlife Reserve, home to a number of endangered species including the
Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran rhino.
Environmentalists also warn that sulfur dioxide emissions from burning
the coal could trigger acid rain that would impact nearby rain forests
and agriculture. In addition, discharge of chlorine sulfates into the
ocean would boost the likelihood of regional eutrophication and algal
blooms, resulting in massive marine die-off. Currently, the area is
home to many fishermen who depend on the oceans for their livelihood.
Locals have said that they fear the coal plant will turn the east
coast of Sabah into America's coal states, where water pollution, air
pollution, coal ash dumps, deforestation, and destructive mining have
devastated the local environment and wildlife. They point to the coal
ash spill in Tennessee in 2008 as an example of what they don't want
"The environmental problems of [the planned coal project] are only the
beginning," says Kammen. "The renewable energy resources in Sabah
could lead to a path that invests in the people and sustaining the
land, and not in expanding the dependence of the region on imported,
At Copenhagen last December, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk
Seri Najib Razak, pledged a 40 percent cut in carbon dioxide intensity
by 2020. By moving forward on coal energy, Malaysia would make meeting
this goal even more difficult, since coal is the most carbon intensive
of the fossil fuels.
Kammen says that the choice between coal and renewable energy doesn't
have to be an either-or choice: either cheap or expensive, either job
creation or job loss.
"The people of Sabah are keenly aware of the need for jobs, and of
their incredible natural resource base. Renewable energy supports that
positive development, and a coal project in the region fights that
positive, clean, growth," he says.
Sabah, its people, and its policymakers are facing a decision similar
to many places of the world: How do we move ahead on energy? Kammen
says that if Sabah chooses renewable energy over traditional fossil
fuels it could help spark a clean-energy revolution.
"Economies in all parts of the world can look carefully at their
resources, develop partnerships, and build a clean-energy, job-
creating path that protects the natural legacy of each state and
province, and our shared global legacy to leave the world a better
place for our children," said Kammen. "So far, our society, globally,
has not lived up to that charge," he explains, adding that "Sabah can
take a stand, profit from the choice, and chart a new path."
© 2010 Mongabay.com. Republished with kind permission.