Come up with concerted strategy to drive biomass industry, Batang Ai rep urges state govt

KUCHING: The state government has been urged to look into environmental-friendly renewable energy alternatives to supplement or cater for the growing needs of energy-intensive industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), and rural communities.

Batang Ai assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh said the national target had been set at achieving 11% usage of renewable energy by 2020 but the current generation was still less than 1%.

Debating on the State Budget 2014 at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) here yesterday, he said in line with the National Biomass Strategy 2020, the state government should come up with a concerted strategy and action plan to develop local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as key players in driving the biomass industry in the state.

“They (SMEs) must be developed into key players to drive our biomass industry towards realising higher value products from our abundant biomass resources,” said Mussen.

At that juncture, he said he commended the initiative by Hock Lee Group’s joint venture with Italian company Beta Renewables to start the biomass ethanol plant in Bintulu by the end of this year.

He said Sabah was also coming up with oil palm biomass JV clusture involving 12 palm oil mills in Lahad Datu to accumulate about 1.5 million tonnes of dry oil palm biomass to produce bio fuel as ethanol or pellets.

“Hence, I would urge the state government to look into the production of sugar cane for ethanol and corn or cassava to generate bio fuel in rural Sarawak especially around our Rural Transformation Centres in order to create job opportunities for the local population,” said Mussen.

He said it was expected that the National Biomass Industry would be able to generate RM300bil by 2020 and create about 66,000 jobs in the country.

“Where biomass can generate electricity at only RM0.35 per kilowatt compared with solar energy, which is about RM1.20 per kilowatt and a (diesel) generator set, which produces about RM120 to RM140 per kilowatt, we should promote and introduce more renewable and clean energy solutions and technology in our industries,” said Mussen.

For densely populated areas like Kuching City or SCORE areas, Mussen proposed that the state government consider the use of Plasma Gasification Technology to convert waste into energy, considering the growing concerns and increasing costs of landfills and mass-burn incineration.

He said this type of renewable energy facilities would create sustainable environmental and economic benefits for its stakeholders and the local community.

“A typical waste-to-energy plant can be designed to optimise gas, fuel or electricity on many kinds of Municipal Solid Waste, industrial waste, agro waste and hazard waste to a wide range of capacities from five megawatt to 100 megawatt, with 50 to 250 tonnes of waste processed per day,” Mussen explained.

He said this projects could also be implemented in the rural areas if there were enough biomass materials or tree crops as feedstock so as to operate at viable energy generation capacity.

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