Sarawak’s large land mass has potential to be biggest bioenergy producer in the region


Uggah (left) showing research samples from the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre to Ahmad Maslan (right). Looking on is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (centre). — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak is committed to diversifying its economy through bio-economy, with biomass an integral part of that transition.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said a detailed roadmap and action plan would be implemented by a Federal-State Taskforce led by the State Planning Unit to make the transition to a “waste to wealth” economy based on biomass, bioenergy and bio-refining.

The state government was committed to meeting the National Biomass Strategy 2020 goal of making Malaysia a premier biomass-processing hub.

He said the state had been working with the Malaysian Innovation Agency (AIM) since 2015 to understand the realistic biomass opportunity for Sarawak through a feasibility study.

The assessment showed that Sarawak had tremendous potential to leverage its biomass toward generating RM4.8bil in additional gross national income, 30,000 job opportunities and RM18bil in investment opportunities throughout the entire biomass value chain.

“Sarawak can host 10 biofuels or biochemical plants in various stages of the development, mobilising six million dry tonnes out of the 19 million dry tonnes of biomass in four specific clusters – Bintulu, Miri, Tanjung Manis and Kuching – in the next 10 to 15 years.

“We have a unique opportunity to become the leader and potentially Asia’s first integrated biomass cluster, or bio hub, as we have other existing bio-resources that could be integrated to complement and exemplify the concept of a sharing economy,” Abang Johari said at the opening of the International Biomass Conference 2017 here yesterday.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who read his text-of-speech, represented him at the event.

Also present was Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

Abang Johari said Sarawak, with its big land mass, would have to collaborate with its Federal counterpart to continue improving the industrial infrastructure, transportation networks and logistic system to meet demands of new growing industries such as biomass.

He added that the Sarawak and Sabah Biomass Industry Development Plan launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last year would be strengthened through a holistic approach through the state’s digital economy initiatives.

“This will impact all parts of the chain affecting key areas such as agriculture, where activities like precision agriculture, use of drones and all other related enablers will help solve long-standing issues in the agro-industry such as yields, shortage of labour, efficiency and more importantly, improve overall mobilisation cost of resources such as biomass, enabled through new technological breakthroughs,” he added.

Abang Johari said with Malaysia’s multi-biomass feedstock proposition, geographic location, established infrastructure, facilities and amenities from existing industries such as oil and gas, forestry, as well as the drive by the government and private sector, Sarawak was well positioned to carve a niche in the industry.

He cited bioenergy, biofuels and biochemical including biomass-based end products such as bioplastics as possibilities for the biomass industry that the state should aim for and leveraging its resources to strengthen the manufacturing and service sector.


   

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