Sabah to expand biomass industry through policy, regulations
09 Aug 2023
Sabah is keen to expand the biomass industry, given its benefits to green energy and related downstream industries.
Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Phoong Jin Zhe said most countries were now transitioning or in the process of adapting green technology or green energy.
In realising the advantages of biomass in the production of high value-added products, such as bio-pellets, bio-fuels and bio-based chemicals, Phoong said his ministry is drafting the Sabah Biomass Policy to further develop the industry.
“Through this policy, the state plans to develop a biomass collection centre and appoint a government-linked company (GLC) to manage it.
“Such a collection centre will be able to create a consistent supply of biomass raw materials (feedstock), which will further attract investors to the industry.
“With this policy, the state government also plans to draw up laws on biomass so that regulatory power for this industry falls under the state government. Currently, the industry is unregulated.
“This venture into biomass has various potentials and can benefit green energy and related downstream industries,” he said during the question-and-answer session at the state assembly.
Phoong was responding to a question from Dr Daud Yusof (Warisan-Bongawan), who wanted to know about the benefits of green energy resulting from the palm oil industry.
Palm oil biomass includes empty fruit bunch (EFB), mesocarp fiber (MF), palm kernel shell (PKS), oil palm trunk (OPT), oil palm frond (OPF) and palm oil mill effluent (pome).
“In the palm oil industry, biogas is produced naturally when pome is organically decomposed.
“The trapping and utilisation of biogas from pome can be used in energy generation due to its combustible chemical nature.
“This provides many benefits to the environment as burning biogas is cleaner with lower amounts of sulfur and particulate matter as well as no hazardous emissions.
“However, trapping and transporting of this biogas is difficult to implement because biogas feedstock is often located in oil palm plantations and in factories.
“Currently, biogas is only used to generate energy for the use of these factories,” he explained.
Meanwhile, in reply to a question from Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang), Phoong said plans to supply electricity to SK Nexilis Malaysia Sdn Bhd (SK Nexilis) had been initiated and agreed upon in 2021.
The electricity supply agreement between Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) and SK Nexilis was signed on July 17 this year after it was examined and approved by the Malaysian Energy Commission.
Shafie questioned how SESB would be able supply so much electricity to just one company while the people of Sabah are suffering due to power outage.
He also asked the minister to explain the details of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with SK Nexilis.
“The agreement has taken into account SK Nexilis’ power supply needs in the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) in stages, starting with 5MW in 2023, and will only reach the maximum requirement of 70MW around the middle of 2024,” Phoong said.
He added that the Sabah Electricity Supply and Tariff Planning and Implementation Committee (JPPPET) meeting, co-chaired by the chief minister and the natural resources, environment and climate change minister, has approved the proposed development of a power plant on the West Coast of Sabah with a capacity of 100MW.