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Malaysia Eyes Palm Oil Biomass as Feedstock for Advanced Fuels

Malaysia is prioritizing the development of its biomass sector, with a focus on utilizing palm oil industry byproducts as feedstock for new and advanced fuels, according to S&P Global.

"The government is looking to bolster the biomass sector by attracting investments and to see biomass as 'a necessary enabler for new and high value-added industries'," stated YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, in a recent event.

As the world's second-largest palm oil producer, Malaysia recognizes the potential of its abundant palm oil biomass. The country's 12th Malaysia Plan, spanning from 2021 to 2025, has designated biomass as a strategic sector, aiming to drive investments in palm oil byproducts.

However, challenges remain in fully realizing this potential. Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob, chairman of MIDA, acknowledged that slow investments since 2019 have hindered progress towards achieving the ambitious target of MR10 billion ($2.1 billion) in investments for the biomass sector as outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

Recent estimates by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) indicate that the sector has attracted investments worth MR222.9 million to date.

The report notes that Malaysia generates a substantial amount of solid biomass, including empty fruit bunches, mesocarp fiber, and kernel shells, during palm oil production. While some of these byproducts are traditionally used as energy sources in palm oil mills, a significant portion is currently discarded.

The government's focus on utilizing palm oil biomass for advanced fuels aligns with global trends towards sustainable and renewable energy sources.

"In the last few years, liquid byproducts of palm oil extraction, such as palm fatty acid distillate and palm oil mill effluent, have also seen rising demand from biofuel producers as EU regulations incentivize the use of waste feedstocks for making biodiesel," reports S&P Global.