Recent study by National University of Singapore suggested that Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) financial and enviornment cost outweigh it benefits.

Dr Benjamin K. Sovacool an Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore said the evidence collected in the study has shown that energy production, when conceived of and implemented in the manner that is being promoted under SCORE, can sometimes achieve a bigger economy at the expense of the communities it is supposed to serve.

SCORE a multi-hundred billion dollar infrastructure development plan for Sarawak, one aiming to achieve US$105 billion of investment and to build 20,000 MW of hydroelectric dams along a 320 kilometer corridor crisscrossing 70,000 square kilometers.

The study titled “Meeting Targets, Missing People: The Energy Security Implications of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)” was published by Contemporary Southeast Asia, September issue.

Based largely on primary data collected through site visits, original field research in Sarawak and more than seventy research interviews, the report identifies the genesis of SCORE, its expected benefits and challenges with implementation encountered to date.

The report begins by describing its research methods and then summarizes four sets of anticipated benefits discussed by respondents associated with SCORE: industrialization, energy security, equitable development and spillover effects.

It then dives into a longer discussion of the technical, economic, political, legal and regulatory, social and environmental challenges facing the project summarized in Table 1.

Technical challenges range from lack of supporting infrastructure to dam excavation and construction.

Economic challenges include cost overruns, financing difficulties and uncertainty concerning power purchase agreements for hydroelectricity.

Political challenges involve hubris, claims of corruption and low political literacy.

Legal and regulatory challenges encompass oppressive legal statutes, lack of a national energy policy and lawsuits. Social challenges range from boom and bust towns to community relocation and resettlement.

Environmental challenges include deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and downstream impacts from aluminum smelting and heavy manufacturing.

SCORE reminds us of the interconnected nature of the challenges facing big infrastructure and development projects.

It demonstrates that some large-scale energy infrastructure projects being promoted on the grounds of economic development can bring substantial costs. SCORE also brings to the fore the decades-old dilemma facing policymakers worldwide should energy be viewed primarily as the means to achieve development?

The massive expansions in energy capacity planned under SCORE assumes that GDP growth and per capita energy consumption must go hand in hand and that the trickle-down benefits from industrialization and rapid economic growth can solve poverty.