Sarawak in 2022: Towards a better economy
Posted on : 19 Jul 2022  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Handout photo shows Abang Johari delivering his winding up speech in the august House on May 26.

SARAWAK continues to stride ahead with empowering its economy via ventures in hydrogen technology as well as looking at other less-common avenues, such as algae production.

Sarawak is expected to produce 100,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2025 and 2026 through collaborations with foreign companies investing in the sector, said Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“We will be working with Samsung and Sumitomo to produce 100,000 tonnes by years 2025 and 2026.

“Out of 100,000 tonnes, 10,000 tonnes will be retained in Sarawak for domestic industrial use,” he said during the 5th International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) 2022 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK).

Abang Johari speaks at the closing of IDECS2022. – Photo by Chimon Upon

He said scientific input showed that Sarawak has the advantage especially with water from the rivers and rain.

“The only thing is the cost of production. We will keep on exploring hydrogen in terms of our resources,” he said.

Apart from hydrogen, Sarawak also has the potential to be a carbon storage for carbon-affected countries.

Abang Johari explained that Sarawak is very lucky to have areas that are very suitable for carbon storage, because it is outside the Ring of Fire that may cause landslides and volcanic eruptions.

However, he said all of these activities need data, which would need to be translated as resources for Sarawak.

“We use the data that we have translated for our economic activities and with that, I am confident that Sarawak will be able to produce important materials in the transformation of the world today, especially in the transition of energy.

“By 2030, Sarawak will be fully ready for the energy transition, which is the key to the future of the state,” he said.

Eye on South Korea for hydrogen collab

Sarawak looks forward to a more robust collaboration with South Korea in energy development including hydrogen and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The Premier of Sarawak said he was glad to see South Korean companies like Samsung Engineering Co Ltd, POSCO and Lotte Chemical having jumped on the bandwagon and partnered with Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to develop an environmental-friendly hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Bintulu.

“Once completed, the plant will produce 630,000 metric tonnes of green ammonia, 600,000 metric tonnes of blue ammonia, 220,000 metric tonnes of green hydrogen, of which 7,000 metric tonnes will be for domestic use and the rest will be exported to South Korea,” he said in his address at the Sarawak-Korea Energy Business Forum 2022 themed ‘Accelerating The Sarawak-Korea Strategic Energy Partnership’.

Abang Johari observed that almost 90 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) had put forward hydrogen support policies or initiatives.

According to him, global hydrogen market is picking up speed, with clean hydrogen production capacity more than doubled since January last year. By 2050, he said the world’s economies and energy systems will look greener.

“The projected reduction in renewable energy and electrolyser costs, as well as the need for deeper decarbonisation of all economic sectors, will drive the emergence of a global market for green hydrogen and its derivatives.

“This is mainly because hydrogen is an essential component of a net zero energy system for deep decarbonisation that is required to meet the current climate targets and limit the temperature increase below 2°C,” he said.

Riding on this new rising potential, Abang Johari said Sarawak is developing its public transport system.

He said the Automated Rapid Transit (ART) will be integrated with digital solutions to create seamless experience using hydrogen fuel cell.

“I believe such initiative creates further opportunity to explore carbon offsets projects. We expect this eco-friendly integrated public transportation system will be able to reduce carbon footprint in Kuching City by 15 per cent by 2030.

“I am sure Republic of Korea also sees the great potential hydrogen has as green solution provider in industries for the future,” he added.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Abang Johari tests a flight simulation programme during his visit to one of Centexs High Technology Labs. – Photo by Chimon Upon

On Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), Abang Johari said he was aware that Korean Air will use SAF on its route between Paris and Seoul Incheon.

He noted that the airline would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent and taking bold steps towards greener aviation.

He said Sarawak, through SEDC, is collaborating with Airbus and Rolls Royce through Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC), undertaking research and development on green hydrogen and fuel cell as future aviation fuel in Demak here.

He said such collaboration is a venture into developing biofuels for aviation, in which the aviation industry has net-zero carbon emissions goals.

“Expanding domestic SAF production can help sustain the benefits of our biofuel industry and forge new economic benefits, creating and securing employment opportunities across the country.

“I believe there is tremendous opportunity between Sarawak and Korea towards a future fuelled with SAF that could unlock additional social, environmental, economic benefits — from creating jobs to restoring soil and watersheds to improving aircraft performance,” he added.

Abang Johari asserted that there is a need to address the gap between jet fuel price and the cost of sustainable fuels to be more competitive.

“We need to reduce financial risks to pave the way for greater investment in production infrastructure. The key to greater acceptance and deployment of SAF is reduction in costs.

“We look forward to partner with Republic of Korea, especially in research, development and commercialisation of improved production technologies and innovative sustainable feedstocks,” he said.

Eye on algae for biofuels

On the point of alternative SAF, the Sarawak government has eyes on an unusual but potential source: Algae.

Abang Johari (centre) and others make their way to the event hall. – Photo by Chimon Upon

The state is planning to set up a test lab to carry out research on algae cultivation for biofuels production.

Abang Johari speaks to reporters after the launch. – Penerangan photo

“Right now, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is working with Petronas. Once we have the lab and it is proven, then we see how we can do it throughout our coast,” he told reporters when met after officiating at the Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak (Centexs) Digital Tech Event 2022 – International Symposium on Digital Industry Transformation at Centexs Kuching.

Abang Johari pointed out that the coastal region of Sarawak is where mangrove forests—of which algae plays a vital role in its ecosystem—is dominant.

“It is from that area that we can produce a lot of algae and how much of this can be produced is what we have to conduct a study on.

“That is 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.

The research could take between two and three years, he added.

Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari said should Sarawak be able to produce the biofuel from the algae, this would enable the state to become the producer of SAF.

“Imagine if we can work together with Brunei and Indonesia to produce the SAF, we can replace Saudi Arabia (as oil exporter) through our renewable oil,” he said.

Currently, research on algae for biofuel production is still ongoing, with the outcome to be known in possibly six months.

“We are still researching the production of fuel using renewable sources, one of them being algae. We want to see whether fuel produced from this renewable source can be commercialised or not.

“Maybe in six months we can see the outcome of the research,” he told reporters after officiating at the Sarawak Education Expo at Yayasan Sarawak.

Abang Johari said the economic viability of algae production and cultivation as well as the volume of algae required to produce fuel had to be looked into.

“If the price is reasonable and commercially viable, we will commercialise the production. Then we can produce biofuel, which can be used as aviation fuel for planes.”