Meeting Targets, Missing People: The Energy Security Implications of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 33, Number 1, April 2011
- pp. 56-82
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This article examines the energy security implications of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy in Malaysia (SCORE), a US$105 billion infrastructure development plan in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. SCORE aims to build a series of hydroelectric dams along a 320-kilometer corridor by 2030. The article begins by explaining the methodology utilized for its research interviews and site visits. It goes on to argue that energy security in Southeast Asia should consist of simultaneously improving the availability, affordability, efficiency and stewardship of energy services for end users. Availability involves diversifying the fuels and technologies in energy production and minimizing dependence on imports; affordability means providing electricity and fuel within the income range of most consumers; efficiency means improving the performance of equipment and lowering demand for energy; and stewardship is minimizing political, social, and environmental hazards associated with energy production and consumption. The paper next introduces the SCORE project before making an assessment utilizing the four criteria of energy security. While SCORE partially improves availability, we argue that it erodes aspects of affordability, efficiency and stewardship. Cost overruns and delays in financing will make the electricity from SCORE suitable only to industrial users, not the energy poor. SCORE is predicated on the assumption that electricity demand should grow greatly in the future rather than the idea that energy efficiency and demand side management programmes should attempt to reduce growth in demand for electricity. SCORE also has a pernicious set of social, environmental and political consequences.