Malaysian Oil Palm Biomass Center Opened

MALAYSIA – Yesterday Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Oil Palm Biomass Center (OPBC) in the Malaysian Parliament. OPBC is a Malaysian public-private partnership aiming to accelerate technology development, testing and demonstration for utilisation of oil palm biomass.

In the Prime Ministers presence, the 18 CEO’s, Vice Chancellors and other senior representatives of OPBC’s industrial and academic partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Together they aim to bring available facilities, required capabilities and other resources efficiently in one organisation, sharing the risks and costs of developing and testing the required technologies.

OPBC is launched under 1MBAS (1 Malaysia Biomass Alternative Strategy) that unifies all Malaysian biomass initiatives under one efficient coordination. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “To coordinate the implementation of the 1MBAS initiative, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia, will liaise all activities from the government-side relating to Biomass utilisation across sectors.”

The PM also says “1MBAS will report their progress and activities related to Palm Oil Biomass to the Steering Committee of the Palm Oil and Rubber NKEA, which is chaired by the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities and Pemandu.”. NKEA are National Key Economic Area’s which have the potential to significantly drive the economic growth of Malaysia, comparable to the Dutch Topsector Policy.

OPBC uniquely facilitates the collaboration of 3 major palm oil companies (Sime Darby, IOI, Felda) with globally leading technology developers interested in biomass utilisation. These international industries include Purac, Novozymes, LG Chemical and others are complemented by leading research groups of the technical universities of Malaysia (UTM) and Delft (TU Delft), University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Standard and Industrial Research Institute Malaysia (SIRIM), Palm Oil Industry Cluster (POIC) Sabah and Wageningen University (WUR).

The joint R&D portfolio has 5 coherent technology programmes around the biomass value chain: sustainable plantation and harvest, logistics and biorefining, conversion to biochemicals, materials, biofuels and bioenergy, nutrient recycling, soil and water quality and energy and carbon dioxide integration. The portfolio is complimented with a 6th programme on sustainable development to understand the socio-economic embedding, accelerate sustainable implementation, and provide transparent communication and training.

Malaysia targets to a 40 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases and reach the developed country status in 2020. In April 2011, BE-Basic, a successful public-private partnership from The Netherlands under coordination of TU Delft signed an agreement with the Malaysian government to help reach these objectives.

The National Biomass Strategy, coordinated by Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM), delivered in November last year during BioMalaysia conference and exhibition, demonstrated the economic viability of a biomass-to-wealth approach and indicated activities to reach these goals. The OPBC programme – modelled after BE-Basic and other international best-practices – results from these recommendations, and plans to operate its R&D, piloting and testing programmes in both West and East Malaysia.