Sustainable Palm Oil … harness the full potential of energy efficiency at palm oil mills to reduce carbon footprint!

London Protest RESustainability of palm oil production is closely related to its carbon footprint. Apart from conversion of rainforest land and peatland into oil palm plantations, the other major activities of its production, which are application of fertiliser and treatment of palm oil mill effluent (POME) release various greenhouse gasses (GHG) that leave a large carbon footprint. The palm oil industry needs to mitigate the present high carbon emissions in its production methods to prove itself as environmentally sustainable.

On the other side of the economy, few people would argue that if we want to fight global warming and achieve energy independence, we need to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

Renewable energy being a scarce resource must be optimally harnessed to achieve maximum offset of fossil fuel emissions. Palm oil mills can actively engage to improve efficient use of its renewable energy resources to enhance sustainability of the palm oil industry.

If you are interested in environmental sustainability as well as energy security and diversity issues, the Oil Palm industry provides potential good solutions because it has abundant renewable energy resources in the form of biomass and biogas residues at the palm oil mills in Malaysia. These are valuable clean energy resources to offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by displacing fossil fuel use elsewhere in the economy. Carbon intensity of the overall economy will be reduced and the carbon emissions mitigated in this way will be credited to the carbon account of palm oil production to enhance its environmental sustainability. In its advancement, energy efficiency improvement at palm oil mills need to come into play to realise the vast potential for clean energy.

In this blog, we will discuss ways to optimise these valuable renewable energy resources at the palm oil mill. We will cover palm oil production process energy efficiencies, energy transition pathways, boilers, steam turbines, and usable heat and electricity generation. If you are looking for cutting-edge information, knowledge, innovation, research and development related to renewable energy in the Oil Palm industry, you have come to the right place. Read on.

CHP – A key solution to Optimize Renewable Energy Resources

One has to look no further than Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power, or CHP as it is also known. You can’t beat cogeneration when it comes to efficient use of energy resources and economical viability, feed-in-tariff or no feed-in-tariff subsidy.

Carbon Dioxide EmissionWhen it comes to renewable resources of energy, the objectives are twofold: the primary objective is always to optimise its usage with an objective to mitigate CO2 emissions with a collateral displacement of as much fossil fuels as possible. This philosophy dictates that any initiative concerning the conversion of biomass renewable energy into pure electro-mechanical power generation without finding a use for the ensuing residual heat energy must be discouraged in favour of cogeneration. The rational for this is to encourage the use of the majority of the heat energy released from the biomass combustion, which is considered carbon-neutral and taking note that biomass is a scarce renewable energy resource. Because the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems can use renewable energy resources so efficiently, it is encouraged through public policy and regulatory tools. Palm oil mills consume large amount of heat for their processes.

When it comes to environment sustainability, Oil Palm industry can make a huge contribution towards achieving this goal of sustainability by off-setting Malaysia’s CO2 emissions economically and rapidly by exploiting the many potential paths that are available in palm oil mills to optimise the biomass resources towards realising this objective.

Climate Change Did You KnowPalm oil mills can be designed in such a way as to operate as centres of energy efficiency, whereby a cumulative renewable energy savings of more than 50% is achievable. This staggering savings can offset burning of about 6 billion litres of fossil fuel oil per year considering the whole industry. When a palm oil mill operates energy efficiently, the target would be to maximise the export of surplus electrical energy to the grid and at the same time liberate the maximum amount of unused biomass fuel for general industries’ heating needs. Where there is excess biomass, this can be suitably treated and packaged at the mills as a valuable by-product for subsequent efficient use at the end user site.

The national grid will definitely play an important role in stimulating interest in renewable energy development by harvesting the surplus electrical energy available at the palm oil mills that are distributed throughout the country, the purchase price being the feed-in-tariff subsidy, if any, determined by public policy. General heat consuming industries should be encouraged and rewarded to use biomass efficiently for their heating needs substituting and in the process displacing fossil fuels wherever and whenever possible. This can be promoted through public policy incentives / subsidy adjustments. This will motivate larger industries to also embark on combined heat and power generation while meeting their primary heating requirements.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Here are the views of Engineers who have been with the palm oil mill industry and the power generation industry, just click blog for interesting interactive blogs.