About Biomass

Booming Biomass Industry in Malaysia and Asia

Malaysia is a country situated strategically in the middle of South East Asia and blessed with fertile agriculture land. With its rich agro-biomass resources as well as booming agriculture industry, it is widely recognized that Malaysia has what it takes to develop its biomass industry. In parallel with the introduction of the National Green Technology Policy in 2009, the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in 2010, as well as the Renewable Energy Act 2011, Malaysia is gearing up to unlock the wealth creation potential of its biomass industry.

Areas of focus include:

  • Biomass as energy includes conversion of biomass feedstock into solid biofuel (pellets, briquettes), biomass power plant projects (co-firing, methane capture), liquid biofuel such as diesel and ethanol.
  • Biomass as high value chemicals applies to the development of valuable chemical precursors such as sugar alcohols, ethanol, and lactic acid.
  • Biomass as eco-products refers to utilization of biomass feedstock in materials such as pulp and paper, biocomposite, and bioplastics as sustainable substitution for fossil-based materials.


Is there biomass industry?

The biomass industry represents several different industries brought together by the utilization of renewable organic matters including timber waste, oil palm waste, rice husk; coconut trunk fibers, municipal waste, sugar cane waste, etc (refer to Figure 1 below). These organic materials have the potential to be used in the manufacturing of value-added eco-products (e.g. bio-plastics, bio-composites, bio-fertilizers, bio-pellets, etc.) and the generation of renewable energy (refer to Figure 2 below).



Figure 1: Different types of biomass available in Malaysia


Figure 2: Different types of products which can be derived from biomass


While it goes without saying the biomass industry in Malaysia has enormous untapped potentials for commercialization given the minimum biomass production of 168 million tones a year as -well hundred types of biomass-related research and development (R&D) activities undertaken by local research institutions and universities, the full utilization of biomass in the market is yet to be achieved. Among the barriers faced are:

  • A lot of policies developed to facilitate the uptake on biomass and renewable energy among SMEs are still underway, limiting the efficiencies of coordination among local agencies and biomass industry in Malaysia.
  • There is no reliable and clear data on the potential of biomass in the market
  • Limited incentives and funding support are provided to bear the high cost of initial investment

In parallel to the need for increased utilization of renewable resources to combat climate change, biomass definitely has a firm position in the national strategies to achieve sustainable consumption and production and combat climate change. As such, the biomass commercialization issues is growing to be more complex and more diverse, opening opportunities for engagement between different industries, government agencies, and research institutions.