FELDA Steps Up Green Drive

The Federal Land Development Authority plans to build 51 biogas plants in Malaysia to grow its income as it can now claim carbon credits from the United Nations  

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), the world’s largest plantation owner and manager, plans to build 51 biogas plants in Malaysia to grow its income, while being friendly to the environment.

It now has five biogas plants, which burn trapped methane gas into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. Methane is 21 times more harmful to the environment than CO2, but it is also a byproduct of oil palm plantations.

It is produced over time at oil palm mills from liquid waste stored at effluent ponds after a fresh fruit bunch is squeezed to extract crude palm oil.

Felda Palm Industries Sdn Bhd senior general manager operations Mokhtar Mat Min said the initiative, which started in 2007, is progressing well and set to become an income earner for Felda as it can now claim carbon credits from the United Nations.

“Completion date will vary depending on individual feasibility studies,” Mokhtar told visiting journalists recently at Felda Besout in Perak.

The five completed biogas plants are in Besout (Perak), Maoakil (Johor), Kemahang (Kelantan), Serting Hilir (Negeri Sembilan) and Jerangau Barat (Terengganu).

Each plant has a different cost depending on oil palm mill capacity and methane gas tonnage. Felda Besout’s biogas plant, for example, costs RM3.8 million.

Under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, countries have limits on how much harmful greenhouse gases they are allowed to produce. A country would then have a law that says how much of these gases an industry can produce.

If a company exceeds its limit, it would then have to buy carbon credits. These credits are, in turn, supplied by companies that invest in environment-friendly projects.

Felda Besout, which emits 25,000 tonnes of methane gas a year, can earn an income of RM1.1 million based on the current carbon credit market price of US$13 (RM44) a tonne.

Felda’s biogas is part of its several green initiatives that include biocompost or the recycling of oil palm waste like branches and fronds to make fertiliser instead of burning them, a practice carried out by some plantation companies in Indonesia.

Malaysia’s oil palm estates have stopped the practice of burning their wastes in the open.

Instead, the wastes are burned in factories to generate electricity. Felda’s plant in Jengka, Pahang, for example, uses 300,000 tonnes of empty fresh fruit bunches to produce 10 megawatts of power.

This is then sold to the national grid or used by the estate to light up its buildings.

Source : Business Times

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