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Renewable energy from palm oil wastes in Malaysia

Umar, M.S., Jennings, P. and Urmee, T. (2013) Renewable energy from palm oil wastes in Malaysia. In: World Renewable Energy Congress (WREC 2013), 14 - 18 July, Perth, Western Australia

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Abstract: The palm oil crop is Malaysia’s major agricultural commodity and is responsible for 71% of agricultural land use in Malaysia. Despite ongoing criticism of the industry’s environmental impacts, Malaysia is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and anthropogenic emissions by utilising the huge renewable energy resource embodied in its palm oil solid and liquid wastes. This is to be achieved by eliminating most of the waste from the palm oil industry, which currently account for 85.5% of the total biomass production in the country. The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, which has been introduced to replace the Small Renewable Energy Programme (SREP), is designed to increase the renewable energy share in the country’s energy mix while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The FiT regime endeavours to stimulate sustainable growth of the renewable energy industry by setting an ambitious 2,080MW capacity target in year 2020 and 21,370MW by 2050. This in turn would translate to an estimated cumulative total of 45.7 and 629.2 million tonnes of CO2 eq emissions avoided by 2020 and 2050 respectively. Both solid and liquid palm oil wastes are eligible for support under the FiT. The palm oil biomass industry is planned to dominate the domestic low carbon industry with a significant 800MW of grid-connected capacity in 2020 and 1,340MW in 2030. These capacities correspond to a cumulative total of 17.6 million tonnes CO2 eq and 29.5 million tonnes CO2 eq emissions removal by considering that electricity generation from renewable resources displaces the generation of power from conventional fuels. On the other hand, methane gas (biogas) produced from the palm oil liquid waste is projected to generate 240MW in year 2020 and 410MW in 2028, hence contributing about 151.2 tonnes CO2 eq and 258.3 tonnes CO2 eq annual avoidance in the respective year. This study investigates the sustainability of components of the biomass downstream power generation system, particularly the fuel supply, technology application and alternatives to grid extension that have a major effect on the FiT capacity target. A combination of surveys, interviews and focus group meetings with industry stakeholders and Government regulators is used to identify barriers and to explore options for facilitating the development of the palm oil biomass renewable energy industry. The work recommends strategies for accelerating the sustainable development of this industry and contributing towards turning Malaysia into a low carbon economy.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
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