SPEAK.....Dr. Lee Ming Tong presenting his paper on the the potentials of bio-refinery in Sabah.
By : ELAINE MAH AND FIZAH YUSOF
THE BIO-REFINERY sector is a largely unknown sector in Sabah. Yet, according to Dr. Lee Ming Tong, Advisory of the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster, it is a sector that will provide vast opportunities if developed properly.
Much like petroleum refineries, which produce multiple fuels and products from petroleum, bio-refineries convert biomass to produce fuels, power, heat and value-added chemicals.
In his presentation during the Bio-Borneo 2013 Conference, Dr. Lee pointed out that Sabah stands to gain a great deal from bio-refineries, as the biomass produce in the state is substantial.
Sabah is the largest oil palm growing state in Malaysia with a planted area of approximately 1.43 million hectares. This translates into a large amount of biomass, with about 95.8 percent of the State’s biomass resources coming from oil palm residues.
It is estimated that from 2010 to 2020 oil palm biomass generated in Sabah will amount to between 24 million tonnes and 30 million tonnes per year.
As petroleum products become more expensive, there is a need to look for alternatives, and one alternative is bio-mass which is renewable, cheaper, and more environmental friendly, Dr. Lee said.
Furthermore, Dr. Lee stressed that the future world demand for bio-products from bio-refineries is expected to increase significantly. This is due to the increasing public pressure for environmentally sustainable raw materials as well as the increasing energy security fears.
Dr. Lee told Insight Sabah reporters that at the present moment, the bio-refinery sector in Sabah is in its early stages of development.
He said that the development of the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) by the State Government is timely. According to him, the POIC plays an important role in pushing the bio-mass industry forward.
Located at the centre of the oil palm growing belt, the POIC has the technical expertise and resources to facilitate the development of the bio-refinery sector in Sabah, he said.
“POIC started from nothing but now we are starting to pick up the pace, with over 40 companies and the establishment of the dry and liquid port. We are starting to realise the vision of developing the bio-refinery sector in the State,” he said. (Insight Sabah)