Malaysia's Green Oil: Turning Biomass Into Liquid Gold

International Business Review 
April-May Edition 2011

Often heralded as a land blessed with plentiful natural resources, one of Malaysia’s primary exports is palm oil - of which it is among the world’s largest producers. Refined from the fruit of the oil palm tree, this commodity is one of the most versatile around as it can be used to produce food, pharmaceuticals, or fuel.

What, however, is often overlooked is the potential of oil palm biomass - the shells or empty fruit bunches (EFBs) that are left behind after the fruit have been extracted. Often discarded or used as low value composed or burnt as an - admittedly inefficient - form of fuel, there has been lots of talk about harnessing the potential of EFBs, but little breakthroughs.

That is until now… Because, one company in Malaysia is set to make waves, not just in the country but all over the region, thanks to its innovative process where oil palm biomass -  once considered as waste - is transformed into highly efficient fuel. Formed to take advantage of the abundance of biomass in the country - Malaysia produces an average of 20 million tonnes of EFBs per year - Premium Renewable Energy (Premium RE) is setting itself up as a company to watch in the coming years.

There are a number of reasons which help lend credence to the aforementioned claim - these include the technology used and the partnerships that Premium RE has formed to ensure the viability of its plans. However, not only does the company have the technical capacity to bring its vision into fruition, it also has the expertise to ensure success.

That is because its recently appointed Managing Director and CEO is none other than a man who is synonymous with the power generation industry in Malaysia - Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. Having been the Managing Director and CEO of Malakoff Corporation - the country’s largest independent power producer (IPP) with an installed capacity of more than 7,000MW - for 16 years, as well as a past President of Penjanebas (the Association of IPPs in Malaysia), he is bringing his vast know-how and experience in the field to Premium RE.

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