Wood energy accounts for 9% of total energy consumption in Malaysia. Statistics show that most biomass energy is consumed by industries, but data on woodfuel use by households are not available. In the domestic sector biomass energy is mainly used for cooking.
Malaysia is exceptional among RWEDP-member countries for several reasons. It has the highest GDP per capita, it has severe (unskilled) labour shortages, and it has a policy of increasing its population. Furthermore, Malaysia has adequate energy sources, e.g. oil for another 16 years and gas for another 60 years at the controlled present consumption levels. New exploration is being successfully undertaken. The country is also relatively well off in wood and biomass resources, and no severe fuel shortages are reported. This is not withstanding the fact that rubber wood is now much less available as most of it is now being used in the furniture industry.
Malaysia has been welcomed as a new member in the present phase of RWEDP. The delegation from the Prime Minister's Department Energy Planning Unit (EPU) quickly took up the challenge of wood/biomass energy planning, which was not practised in Malaysia. EPU is already incorporating wood energy into the forthcoming five-year development plan and into a prospective energy plan, thus taking a lead among RWEDP-member countries. The EPU is determined to collect data on a regular basis. A national committee for renewable energy is being established, with a sub-committee on biomass energy.
The forestry sector and/or the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) is being asked to join the committee. One of the objectives is to utilise wood and biomass waste more efficiently as an energy source, for environmental and economic reasons. At FRIM, a lot of expertise on wood energy resource use and conversion has already been acquired due to its ongoing and active research programmes. This includes modern technologies for briquetting, conversions, cogeneration and residue utilisation.
With regard to a wider range of fuels from biomass, research results from the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia on carotene from palm oil are interesting. It is reported that the marketing of two palm oil products together, i.e. carotene and palm oil-engine fuel, constitute a financially viable proposition. Tests are being carried out with this biofuel on public buses in Malaysia.
Focal points are the main contacts for RWEDP in a member country. Generally, in each country, there is one focal point in the energy sector, and one in the forestry sector.
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© FAO-RWEDP, 1999