Wednesday 24 Apr 2024
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KUCHING (Sept 7): Sarawak’s plans to export the green hydrogen it produced will also enable the state to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), said Datuk Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, deputy state secretary for Sarawak’s economic planning and development unit. He was speaking at the Sustainability & Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF) 3.0.

The state’s green hydrogen will be exported to countries such as South Korea and Japan. During the engagement sessions, it was posited that in exchange for green hydrogen, ships can carry carbon dioxide from the two countries back to Sarawak for storage. This will make the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology viable.

“As we were exploring this, we found out that our [Sarawak] Biodiversity [Centre] has been doing research on algae as a source of energy. They identified a few hundred strains of microalgae and found one that contains 70% lipids,” said Muhammad Abdullah.

The lipid can be used to generate biofuels, he said, and with further refining, can be turned into SAF. This type of fuel is defined as renewable or waste-derived aviation fuel, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

As global airlines aim to reduce emissions, the demand for SAF is increasing. S&P Global Commodity Insights projects SAF demand to climb to 5.8% of global jet fuel demand by 2050, with most of it coming from Europe and the US. Several European countries have proposed or adopted blending targets for SAF.

Growing microalgae also removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Carbon dioxide can be injected into seawater and it becomes food for the algae,” said Muhammad Abdullah.

This connects the green hydrogen value chain to the production of SAF from microalgae. The first microalgae carbon capture facility in Sarawak began in 2020, led by Japan’s Chitose Group in collaboration with Sarawak Energy Bhd and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.

“There is a simple calculation that for every 1,000 acres [of land], you can produce 10,000 barrels of SAF. Today, imagine that we have identified 10,000 acres of land in Bintulu [for microalgae production]. By 2030, [we could] expect to produce at least 100,000 barrels of SAF for the world,” he said.

Another effort in the state to produce SAF from microalgae is spearheaded by Petronas Research Sdn Bhd and SEDC Energy Sdn Bhd.

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