TAWAU: A lot can be tapped from the oil palm industry waste, Energy, Green, Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said.
With the right innovative technologies the potentials in generating electricity along with other economic and environmental benefits from biogas and biomass are huge, he said.
Ongkili said this after visiting a pilot bio ethanol producing facility that uses empty fruit bunches (EFB) at the Teck Guan Sungai Burung Palm Oil Mill here two days ago.
“Mills can earn money by converting ignored biomass such as the EFB into higher-value renewable fuels and chemicals, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“This will also contribute to Malaysia’s aim of reducing carbon emissions intensity to the GDP by up to 40% by the year 2020 compared with the 2005 level,” he said during his visit.
Ongkili said however there were challenges to exploiting palm oil mill biomass that needed to be addressed.
“This include the need for mill owners and operators to familiarise themselves with the technologies required to generate wealth from their biomass, banks and investors’ willingness to provide loans for green fuel and power ventures, connectivity to the grid to export the electricity generated and coming up with the most cost-effective technologies.
“For this the ministry will study the proposal to establish a ‘green grid’ that connects all palm oil mills, which in turn can be used to supply electricity to the local communities as well as the state or national grid,” he said.
In the visit Ongkili was briefed by Teck Guan executive chairman Datuk Hong Ngit Ming.
Hong said the government through the ministry has been supportive towards efforts made by the private sector in the promotion of the green energy sector in the country.
“Teck Guan, as an international oil palm plantation, palm oil mill and oleochemical company, wants to demonstrate that technologies for profiting from biomass are now available,” he said.
Hong said palm oil mill effluent from biomass would often be left stagnant in ponds with massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere.
In view of that Teck Guan exploited the effluents by using anaerobic digesters (AD) in tanks and harness the methane generated to fuel kilns at their brick factory.
“We plan to further optimise and expand our biogas production facilities to supply up to 10 MW power through bio-gas engine to the grid.
“Teck Guan is exploiting palm oil mill biomass for financial and environmental benefits. A 60 tonne/hour mill like the one here could theoretically produce about 10 million liters of bio-ethanol from EFB per year.
“Typically a similar mill can generate 3 MW of electricity. If all 450 mills in Malaysia can produce the same amount, you can see the tremendous economic potential to the palm oil industry.
“Generation of renewable ‘clean and green’ fuels and energy also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while replacing many million liters of diesel, which can be exported to earn foreign exchange,” Hong added.
Source : New Straits Times