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Palm oil board refutes economist’s claim on biodiesel

 | March 29, 2017

Prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram had said Malaysia's research and development of biodiesel was 'too modest'.

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PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has been actively carrying out research and development activities in palm oil-derived biodiesel since the 1980s, contrary to claims by a prominent economist that such efforts were “too modest”.

Economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram had said Malaysia’s R&D efforts were “too modest” and that it had failed to place a strong enough foundation to develop biodiesel energy when compared with other countries.

But Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) principal research officer Harrison Lau defended Malaysia’s R&D efforts, saying these efforts had seen MPOB become a leading player in biodiesel technology, on a par with other international players.

“The government, through MPOB, has developed the technology for the production of biodiesel as a renewable fuel from palm oil since the 1980s, which resulted in numerous patents and publications.

“MPOB had established the first continuous palm biodiesel pilot plant in 1985.

“It carried out exhaustive field trials using palm biodiesel,” he told FMT, adding MPOB’s research efforts had enabled palm biodiesel to be established as a diesel substitute.

One of the most extensive field trials, MPOB said, was carried out in collaboration with Mercedes Benz Daimler in Germany, involving 36 commercial buses using pure diesel (B0), blends of B50 (50% petroleum diesel and 50% palm biodiesel) and palm biodiesel (B100).

“Other commercial trials conducted include trials using B5 with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), involving 3,900 vehicles, technical deliberations with Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (Jama) and B10/B20 (80% petroleum diesel and 20% palm biodiesel) trials with MPOB and DBKL vehicles.

Lau said, as a result of these R&D efforts, the government was able to implement the B5 (95% petroleum diesel and 5% palm biodiesel) in 2011 and B7 (93% petroleum diesel and 7% palm biodiesel) in 2015.

“Jomo’s statement is not really fair as the palm oil industry has implemented renewable energy practices and also promoted sustainable development through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certifications.

“For example, all palm oil mills use their oil palm shell and fibre as fuel for their boilers instead of fossil fuel.

“Today, Malaysia is at the forefront of palm oil research and development in the world.

“We would be happy to brief Sundaram and have further discussions and share views on this.”

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