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Ulu Jelai Hydroelectric Project

Project Overview

Located in a tropical and isolated environment in the Cameron Highlands, 140 km north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the project presented unique challenges. These included the construction of access roads to the dam site and tunnelling through 23 km of rock in uncertain geological conditions.

The project is designed to capitalise on the dam’s location in a narrow valley on the Bertam River. The reservoir, with a surface area of 950,000 m2 and a storage capacity of 24 million m3, is located 350 metres above the underground powerhouse, and provides the head difference available for power generation before the water is released back into the Bertam River, about six kilometres downstream of the main dam.

Other features of the development include a seven-kilometre-long power waterway; two weirs and two water transfer tunnels - 7.5 and 8.5 km in length respectively -to divert water to the main dam from the neighbouring Lemoi and Telom River catchments. The two water transfer tunnels contribute approximately 67% to the combined flow of water available for power generation, which was a key factor in the project being economically viable.

Commissioned in 2016, the 372MW Ulu Jelai Hydroelectric Scheme annually contributes 326 GWh of peak energy to Malaysia’s power supply system and provides stability to the power grid.

SMEC is continuing its involvement in the project through the design of a regulating weir, downstream of the power station’s tailrace tunnel, to transform the intermittent power station discharges to environmentally more favourable uniform river flow conditions.

Our Role

In 2011, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia’s Electrical Power Public Utility, engaged SMEC to review an existing feasibility study, prepared in 2004, to determine if the Ulu Jelai Hydroelectric Project remained a viable development option.

Consequently, SMEC was engaged to undertake the detailed design, construction supervision and contract management for the implementation of the project.

SMEC’s scope of work included:

  • Detail design of civil works
  • Review and approval of electrical and mechanical plant and equipment
  • Contract management and construction supervision
  • Quality contro
  • Witnessing of factory testing of main plant
  • Supervision of plant installation
  • Claim management
  • Commissioning
Technical Area:
Tenaga Nasional Berhad

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