Illustration from a presentation by Zainal Abidin bin Mohd Yusof, Chen Sau Soon
SIRIM, Malaysia conf Biomass – Asia Workshop, by editor

Bioenergy in Malaysia

by Wan Asma Ibrahim & Puad Elham, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)

In 2001, the Malaysian Government introduced the Fifth-Fuel Policy which identified renewable energy (RE) from biomass, biogas, municipal waste, solar, wind and mini-hydro as additional sources of fuel for electricity generation besides oil, gas, hydro and coal.

In 2011, there were nine operational biopower plants in the country; these were based on oil palm empty fruit bunches (7), biogas, (1) and refuse derived fuel (1). The capacities of these plants are in the range 2-14 MW.

Last year, the Malaysian palm oil industry produced 83 million dry tons of biomass and this is expected to increase to about 100 million tons by 2020.

There are about 420 palm oil mills in Malaysia and effluent from these can be used for biogas production. Table 1 below shows the number of biogas facilities operating, under construction and under planning in the various palm oil mills.

Table 1. Number of biogas projects in palm oil mills in Malaysia.

Status Number of biogas projects


Under construction





Densified biomass in the form of sawdust briquettes, charcoal briquettes with and without binder as well as sawdust pellets are manufactured in Malaysia.  Briquetting technologies used in the country include reciprocating ram/piston press and the Japanese heated-die screw briquetting machines. Briquettes and pellets produced in Malaysia are finding markets in the Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

Charcoal briquettes are produced by carbonizing biomass briquettes in small rectangular brick kilns. Currently there are about 19 sawdust and charcoal briquette manufacturers in Malaysia with capacities ranging from 200-1000 tons per month with a total capacity of 5050 tons per month. Briquettes are also produced from charcoal fines using binders.

The Malaysian pellets industry is expanding at a steady pace, and the pellets are mostly used in the industrial energy sector. Currently there are 19 pellet manufacturers using sawdust (16) and oil palm biomass (3) with capacities ranging from 500 – 2,000 tons per month; total capacity of these plants is 23,500 tons per month.