CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Sedimentation caused by waste disposal has proven to be among the biggest challenges faced by TNB Power Generation Sdn Bhd (TNB Genco) in ensuring that its hydroelectric dams located in the district here remain at optimum levels.
Its chief operating officer Datuk Roslan Abd Rahman said TNB Genco, a subsidiary of Tenaga Nasional Bhd, spends an average of RM40 million annually to remove sedimentation at its reservoirs caused by improper waste disposal.
“While generating electricity, it is crucial for us to ensure that the water flow is always under control and at a safe level. However, our biggest challenge is sedimentation.
“Every year we are forced to spend about RM40 million to remove the sediment, which comprises waste and sand, to ensure that the capacity of the dams is always at a good level,” he told the media during a tour of its power stations and hydro dams here recently.
Present was Cameron Highlands Power Stations general manager Sa’aidan Abu Hassan.
Roslan said the cost was likely to increase up to 10 per cent annually, based on the increase of various expenses at present.
Although the amount for cleanup works and maintenance is manageable, we would like to reduce the cost as much as possible.
“To do so, we need to reduce sedimentation and waste pollution from entering our reservoirs. If we can do so, we can reduce our costs.”
Roslan said when the dam began its operation is 1963, its reservoir was at 100 per cent of its capacity.
“However, at present the water holding capacity has greatly decreased to only half.”
He said the reservoir level would drop to the minimum level after only four hours.
“We cannot run the hydro dam for more than four hours daily.”
Roslan added that other than sedimentation, TNB Genco also faced operational and maintenance challenges such as landslides and the presence of agricultural and logging wastes.
Roslan said TNB Genco has also been working with relevant agencies and departments to address the sedimentation and waste pollution problem.
“If we keep focusing on the sediment at our reservoirs, it will be a neverending story. We need to identify the root cause of the problem, as well as things that are beyond our control.
“Therefore, we worked with the National Water Research Institute of Malaysia, where part of the programmes include educating the people living near river areas and those involved in the agriculture business on how to properly dispose their waste, as well as ‘Program Sayangi Sungai’.
“We have also installed sediment traps at dams, along with identifying river borders so that when people encroach into the area, the respective authorities will be aware of it.”
He added that apart from generating renewable energy for the country, the hydroelectric dams also serve as a flood mitigation system which prevents disasters from worsening, especially in downstream river areas.
During the tour, media personnel were taken to the Sultan Yussuf Jor Power Station, Sultan Abu Bakar Dam, Susu Dam and Ulu Jelai Power Station.
The group was briefed on the operation of the power plants, as well as renewable energy generation.
TNB Genco has three hydropower stations in Malaysia, namely the Sungai Perak Hydro Power Station, which produces 1,249MW (megawatts); Sultan Mahmud Kenyir Hydro Power Plant, which generates 665MW; and Cameron Highlands Power Stations (SSJCH), which produces 622MW.