NEWS The Borneo Post: Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan gets praise from professor Kammen

The Bor­neo Post, August 17: KUCHING: Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Pat­inggi Tan Sri Ade­nan Satem’s move to can­cel the plans to con­struct Baram dam has earned him­self com­pli­ments from Dr Daniel M Kam­men, a dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor of renew­able energy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berkeley.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of a lun­cheon talk on ‘Build­ing alter­na­tive renew­able and sus­tain­able energy capac­ity for eco­nomic growth and devel­op­ment in Sarawak’ hosted by Batu Lin­tang assem­bly­man See Chee How here yes­ter­day, Kam­men regarded the step taken by Ade­nan as ‘a rare thing’ that had only been taken by only a hand­ful of brave world leaders.

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The Chief Min­is­ter of Sarawak has taken a huge and impor­tant step can­celling the con­tract for a mega dam because it wasn’t likely to pro­duce the rural energy that was needed, it wasn’t bring­ing inter­na­tional financ­ing and instead to invest in a sus­tain­able Sarawak.

That is a rare thing. I only know a few global lead­ers who have been that brave, Jerry Brown the gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia, the chief min­is­ter of Sarawak. There are also a few lead­ers like Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel who I think have taken a major step to make clean energy the standard.”

Kam­men, who is the found­ing direc­tor of the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory (RAEL), acknowl­edged that while can­celling the con­tract for the con­struc­tion of the big dam was impor­tant, the state had to pur­sue other clean energy such as solar and biomass.

Of course, I would like to see a lit­tle more change because if you’re not going to build the next big dam, but you’re build­ing all those new indus­trial build­ings all around town not equip­ping them with solar, which I feel is a loss of opportunity.

Find a few of these new invest­ments like many of the com­mu­ni­ties around here where they are build­ing lots of new devel­op­ment and tell them ‘your build­ing con­tract, we’ll grant it but we want to see solar on roof top, we want to see bio­mass com­bus­tion sys­tem out back. You’re gen­er­at­ing clean energy and we’ll make sure you get paid for it’.”

As part of the mea­sures to encour­age the use of renew­able and sus­tain­able energy, he opined that the gov­ern­ment should strengthen the feed-​​in tar­iff mech­a­nism that existed on paper but not used in the coun­try, adding that the busi­nesses or firms want­ing to sell back power to the grid should be given the right to do so.

You can’t just say it and walk away. You have to fund some small com­pa­nies to start to prove it hap­pens and that requires hard work and that’s the next step. So we have to see it take place, not just to say we have it.

I know there are many coun­tries that have very good poli­cies on paper but you have to fol­low it up. Because bio­mass is so plen­ti­ful here cou­pled with the solar resources that are so good and the micro-​​hydro, you have to make it happen.”

He said often when peo­ple hear about projects to build solar pan­els and wind tur­bines, they resisted because it was some­thing that they were unfa­mil­iar with and con­cerned over the cost, with­out real­is­ing how cheap things had become over the years.

There is now inter­na­tional financ­ing avail­able (for these projects) from many dif­fer­ent agen­cies, not just the World Bank, the US but new Green

Cli­mate Fund is ramp­ing up right now so that it can spend US$100 bil­lion a year on projects. This is a much broader fund, it sup­ports clean energy projects worldwide.”

Kam­men, who last vis­ited Sarawak in June last year and had paid a cour­tesy call on Ade­nan, said he was inter­ested to work with Sarawak Energy Bhd and the state gov­ern­ment on the analy­sis needed to put together a clean energy plan.

On Sarawak Cor­ri­dor of Renew­able Energy (SCORE), Kam­men opined that it was not a good project as it required the con­struc­tion of 10 mega dams in n the state, which to him, did not make sense.

The forests are not only crit­i­cal for nature but many peo­ple make their liv­ing off them. Sarawak doesn’t have a deficit of energy, there is actu­ally a lot generated.

The chal­lenge is that we have to con­vert that to clean energy. So you need to develop roof top solar, large scale solar. In Penin­su­lar Malaysia, they have large solar projects just near the air­port. They are gen­er­at­ing solar power, putting it back into the grid. Projects like that need to hap­pen here.”

Dr. Rebekah Shirley directs RAEL’s projects for sus­tain­able energy in Borneo

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