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Expert: Sarawak has makings of green hydrogen production hub

Expert: Sarawak has makings of green hydrogen production hub

21 May 2024

Sarawak is poised to emerge as a key hub for green hydrogen production, thanks to its strategic location and abundant renewable energy resources, particularly hydropower.

Prof Christoph Menke from the University of Applied Sciences Trier in Germany said Sarawak’s central position relative to major markets like China, Korea, and Japan makes it an ideal candidate for green hydrogen production.

“With significant investments in renewables, including floating photovoltaic systems on hydro dams, Sarawak can supply the necessary renewable electricity for green hydrogen production,” he told The Borneo Post in a recent interview in conjunction with the coming Asia Pacific Green Hydrogen (APGH) Conference & Exhibition 2024.

“Additionally, its ample land and biomasss resources position it as an export centre for PTX products like methanol, ammonia, and e-koresene to high-demand regions such as China, Korea, and Japan.”

PTX is the acronym for ‘Power-to-X’, which stands for the conversion of renewable electricity into material products, represented by the ‘X’

An esteemed expert in energy technologies, Menke boasts extensive experience in various fields including combined heat and power, industrial energy efficiency, and solar thermal technology.

His expertise extends to senior advisory roles in energy policy, energy systems analysis, and planning.

Since 2000, he has been deeply involved in energy policy planning across ASEAN countries, contributing his insights to nations like Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Menke commends Sarawak’s rapid progress in green hydrogen initiatives, citing strategic planning, resource availability, and international interest as key drivers.

He said Sarawak has concrete investment plans and securing long-term contracts with off-takers in China, Japan, and Korea were pivotal steps.

Menke also stresses the importance of pilot projects for gaining practical experience essential for industry scaling, acknowledging Sarawak’s inherent advantages despite being in the early stages of development.

“What is necessary is to start getting your feet wet with pilot projects because this transition of investment will require substantial changes in the entire production, handling, and shipping processes.

“This transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes 10, 15, even 20 years to incorporate the lessons learned from sandbox experiments,” he said.

“In principle, the resources are there, although they haven’t been fully developed yet. We are at the very beginning.

“The renewable energy demand will be vast, necessitating substantial investment in renewable energy to build up the hydrogen industry in Sarawak.”

Menke also emphasised the need for strong government support and private sector involvement, suggesting a focus on cluster development akin to successful models like the European port of Rotterdam.

“Additionally, this development requires the cooperation of universities and research institutions because we are dealing with new technologies and processes that need to be developed.”

In this respect, Menke advocates for cross-border collaborations within Southeast Asia, noting each country’s unique renewable energy advantages.

“Southeast Asia has a great future if countries work more closely together. Each country has its unique advantages; Laos with hydropower, Indonesia with geothermal energy, Vietnam and the Philippines with offshore wind, and Sarawak with hydropower.

“So my argument always is that a strong electricity grid in Southeast Asia is essential for achieving major proportions of renewables.

“If each country attempts to develop renewables independently, it will be too expensive and challenging to reach high percentages of renewable energy. A cooperative approach, similar to Europe’s integration of wind in the north, hydropower in the Alps, and solar in the south, is crucial.”

Menke also noted the importance of building trust and strong cooperation among Southeast Asian countries.

“This collaboration will not only enhance renewable energy capacity but also improve logistics and production efficiency for hydrogen.

“In my opinion, fostering strong cooperation and building trust among Southeast Asian countries should be the number one priority. This will allow Sarawak to leverage its strategic location and logistical connections to become a major player in the green hydrogen market.”

Therefore, conferences and exhibitions, such as the Asia Pacific Green Hydrogen (APGH) Conference and Exhibition 2024 play a crucial role in fostering international collaboration and knowledge sharing within the green hydrogen sector.

“We are talking about a pretty new thing,” said Menke.

Menke reflected on his experience with the Renewable Energy Asia Conference, recalling the scepticism towards renewables decades ago.

He noted that it took 20 years to form a consortium of stakeholders, comprising government regulators, utility companies, the private sector, academia, and NGOs.

“These groups had to learn to work together, communicate, and exchange opinions. Conference and exhibitions are where these different stakeholders meet and interact.”

Menke said it was not enough to attend conferences in Europe, America, or Australia, adding that regional participants were needed from countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore to share their experiences, and learn from each other.

“Regional cooperation is essential for the development of green hydrogen.

“Without regional conference and exhibitions, the sector cannot take off. It took 10 to 15 years for the Renewable Energy Asia conference to build this trust and establish a foundation for collaboration. These gatherings are necessary to develop confidence in new technologies and approaches among regional stakeholders.”

For more information on the Asia Pacific Green Hydrogen (APGH) Conference & Exhibition 2024, go to

Source: Borneo Post