The SAF is part of the Sarawak government’s vision for a green economy

Abang Johari (second left) and others including State Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin (left) showing the mini model of the SAF refinery during a Petronas briefing at KIA before boarding the Latvian airbus powered by Sarawak algae SAF on May 22, 2023.

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KUCHING (July 19): Algae Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the new buzzword in the renewable energy and aviation sector, is part of the Sarawak government’s vision for a green economy as stated under the Post-Covid Development Strategy ( PCDS) 2030 thereof.

Algae SAF covers the pillars of PCDS 2030; such as economic prosperity, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability, said SEDC Energy chief executive officer Robert Hardin in a special interview.

SEDC Energy, a subsidiary company of the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), has signed an agreement with Petronas Research (PRSB), a subsidiary of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), to develop technology for microalgae oil production .

Under the terms of the agreement, PRSB and SEDC Energy will jointly develop algae production technology that includes cultivation, harvesting and extraction of crude algae oil that will eventually be transported to produce algae SAF.

SEDC Energy supports the vision of Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Open to use new alternative and cleaner energy.

The company is also committed to driving a ‘new energy’ ecosystem within the state of Sarawak, he added.

“In this context, SEDC Energy is taking an active role in new energy solutions, particularly green, echoing from the state’s PCDS 2030. So, apart from fossil or conventional fuels, solutions from hydrogen or even from biomass, for example algae, will be a part of that push.

“So, since the state has green goals in mind, it’s only natural that SEDC Energy looks at all these green opportunities throughout the energy transition. SEDC Energy is looking at diversifying the potential of Sarawak, and all this of course is based on the goals of decarbonization and green economy push, keeping in mind the sustainability of the environment,” added Hardin.

Abang Johari (second left) inspects the processing tanks at the algae nursery site in Demak Laut on June 15, 2023. Also seen are SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Hussain and State Deputy Minister of Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Abang Hypni.

Algae crude oil is a new commodity with great economic potential, Hardin said, while expressing his confidence that algae farming can be introduced to local farmers to increase potential jobs and opportunities in business.

The use of Algae SAF can also contribute to the much-needed reduction in green house gasses (or GHG) by 2030, he said, adding that this is part of the aviation industry’s global goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Achieving net zero by 2050 will require a combination of maximum elimination of emissions at source, offsets and carbon capture technologies,” he said.

He said that SAF is proving itself to be the fuel of the future for the industry with its sustainable and renewable nature of feedstock.

On how to produce algae SAF economically, Hardin said the price of algae SAF is expected to decrease as the technology advances.

“We are currently working with technology partners to further improve the overall production yield and reduce the cost of algae-based SAF production by exploring the potential of local manufacturing equipment for commercial farming to reduce costs from importing equipment from other countries, and increase in large. scale commercial farming to reduce total production costs.”

Sarawak also has abundant natural resources required for algae farming, such as sunlight and water.

The availability of these two resources ensures that algae farming in Sarawak is kept at a minimum rate, further reducing production costs, he stressed.

“With the above points, this can also be seen as a contributing factor to the overall multiplier effect where it will create local job opportunities for Sarawak talents and increased investment in Sarawak,” Hardin said. .

Algae SAF is good for the next generation, he added.

“With the introduction of Algae SAF locally and internationally, it will help reduce GHG emissions in the aviation industry and ultimately lead to the era of ‘Sustainable Skies of Sarawak’,” said Hardin.

The introduction of another alternative to the renewable oil resource – crude algae oil – will help improve the local economy through the participation of locals in algae farming, he said about its impact on future generations.

This is due to the ease of cultivation of algae and potential accessibility to alga culture, he explained.

Abang Johari (center) in a group photo with other VIPs during the refueling of a Latvian Air Baltic A220 airbus on May 22, 2023.

Abang Johari launched the first plane, a Latvian Air Baltic A220 airbus, to use Sarawak algae SAF in its fuel mixture at the Kuching International Airport (KIA) here on May 22 this year.

He made history by boarding an airbus to fly to Kedah for this year’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima 2023) and to witness the signing of an agreement on the development of SAF algae production technology.

In a related development, Sarawak is planning to increase microalgae cultivation from 1,000 hectares to 10,000 hectares in Bintulu.

This was disclosed by Abang Johari during his visit to the one-acre algae nursery site located in the Demak Laut Industrial Park here on June 15 this year.

1,000 hectares can produce 500,000 tons per year of crude algae oil or renewable oil equivalent to 10,000 barrels per day, he said.

The Sarawak government is also planning to set up a test lab to conduct research on the cultivation of algae for the production of biofuels.

Abang Johari said this is in line with the state’s efforts to explore SAF production and its vision to become a major producer in the region.

He pointed out that Sarawak’s coastal region is where mangrove forests – where algae play an important role in its ecosystem – predominate.

“From that area we can produce a lot of algae and how much of it can be produced is what we need to conduct a study. That’s why I want to sponsor to carry out the research. The moment we can produce (the algae), then the SAF can be produced,” he said at a function here on June 7.

He estimated that the research could take between two and three years.

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