Renewable energy from palm oil waste in Sabah.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s palm oil industry produces enough waste to generate up to 700MW of electricity, an American energy researcher said.
Dr Daniel M. Kammen said the figure was based on the 2008 palm oil pro-
duction statistics and conservative growth estimates.
He said biomass power generation plants were economically feasible and logistically achievable via a four-project per year ramp-up programme.
The biomass power generation plants solved two environmental problems at once, Dr Kammen said at a forum on energy options for Sabah organised by Green Surf, a grouping of NGOs here.
“One problem is disposing of potentially hazardous mill wastes in open ponds and landfills and the other problem is meeting Sabah’s energy demands,” said Dr Kammen who carried out a study on the state’s clean energy options with fellow researchers Tyler McNish and Benjamin Gutierrez.
Noting that several mills in Sabah were already harnessing palm oil wastes to generate electricity, he said the 10MW limit on investment under the small renewable energy programme should be scrapped.
“There should be continued research and outreach efforts targeted at increasing the quantity of grid-connected electricity available from palm oil mills besides recognising renewable energy status as a premium product.
“It is also important to continue studying the feasibility of renewable investments at known geothermal, wind and environmentally sound micro-hydro sites,” noted the Unversity of California at Berkeley researcher.
Meanwhile, Abdul Nasir Abdul Wahid who represented Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) at the forum, insisted that the biomass approach to generate power was not viable to generate 300MW of electricity needed in the state’s east coast.
SESB and its parent company, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, have been pushing for a controversial 300MW coal fired plant in the east coast Lahad Datu.
The project has been opposed by various NGOs acting under the Green Surf umbrella.