The promising future of microalgae: Sarawak can have more “farmers” growing sustainable oil

A presentation slide about Sarawak-made algae-based biofuel shared by Abang Johari when delivering his ministerial winding-up speech at the DUN sitting on May 24, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 24: Sarawak can have more “farmers” growing oil more sustainably, instead of having to look for oil offshore or onshore, given that the region has succeeded in producing the world’s first algae-based sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The use of the Sarawak-made algae-based SAF in an Airbus A220-300 aircraft was showcased at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2023 two days ago.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg believes that microalgae is a renewable source that can offer Sarawak a sustainable solution that does not compete with food sources.

“In this pressing climate change and energy transition, Sarawak has the capacity to provide a green fuel solution from a sustainable source—microalgae, which offers great potential to produce SAF which is crucial to the aviation industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“Here in Sarawak, there is enough sunlight, warm tropical climate and abundance of seawater that provides the right condition to continuously farm the oil source sustainably,” he said when delivering his ministerial winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak has plans to scale up the cultivation of microalgae to 1,000 acres which according to scientists, can produce about 500,000 tonnes per annum of crude algae oil or renewable oil.

“That can be equated to about 10,000 barrels of oil per day with about 37 per cent extraction rate of crude algae oil from the algae biomass.

“The unit cost per barrel is below USD50 and today if sold to a biorefinery, it might fetch around USD110 per barrel because it’s green oil,” he elaborated.

As such, Abang Johari expressed confidence that this innovative technology will not only be a valuable addition to drive Sarawak’s economy, but also a significant contribution towards achieving the Green Economy agenda for 2030. — DayakDaily