Malaysia’s Policies on Renewable Energy and Global Warming that Went Awry
The Fifth-Fuel Policy under the Eight Malaysia Plan (2001- 2005) identified renewable energy sources as the fifth-fuel to be included into the national energy mix and more specifically, biomass residue from the palm oil mills as a major renewable energy resource. The policy pushed for optimising the use of renewable energy resources as a way to achieve maximum reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The fifth-fuel policy delved further to encourage co-generation as a suitable method to extract electricity and usable heat from biomass resources, mainly for in-house consumption. In this respect, the implementation of the policy faulted on two accounts:
- Firstly, by narrowly interpreting the policy direction as renewable for electricity generation the other important aspect, i.e. the simultaneous production of usable heat for in-house use was disregarded; and
- As a result of (1) above, standalone biomass-based power plants incinerating empty fruit bunches (EFB) remains from palm oil mills were promoted. This led to the second neglect, namely, prime biomass resource in the palm oil mills, which comprises mesocarp fibre and palm kernel shell that has tremendous renewable energy potential. The neglect of this prime biomass resource continues till today resulting in leaving their inherent renewable energy potential largely underutilised.
A downside to the two neglects mentioned above is that the standalone-small-scale-low-efficiency-electricity-only power plants burning empty fruit bunches, as forecast, demonstrated to be financially not viable and this unattractive economics continues to hamper biomass renewable energy development in Malaysia till today.
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