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New Malaysian JV to build biogas plant

FTJ Bio Power Sdn Bhd, a 60:40 joint venture between Malaysian agro-based enterprise Felda Global Group and Malaysia's energy provider Tenaga Nasional Bhd, respectively, has been set up.

The new JV will invest RM120 million (€28.58 million) to construct a new power generation plant, which will produce electricity from 100% oil palm empty fruit branches (EFB).

The facility is due to break ground later this year on a 4.2-hectare site in Jengka 9, Pahang, and is expected to be operational by December 2012. When the plant does come online it will generate 12.5 million watts of electricity.

'The plant will utilise EFB accumulated in the process of producing crude palm oil from seven of the eight mills owned by the Felda Global Group in the Jengka area. These total 350,000 tonnes a year,' Felda said in a statement.

According to the president of Felda Global Group Datuk Sabri Ahmad, 140 million tonnes of biomass is produced annually by the Malaysian palm oil industry. EFB is reported to make up 20 million tonnes of this.

'Felda, as the country's largest oil palm operator, produces three million tonnes of EFB. There is a tremendous opportunity to derive value from these oil palm waste products and harness them into energy,' says Ahmad.

This is Felda's second plant to produce renewable energy from EFB only. The company built its first in 2004. Generating 7.5 million watts a year, the plant was the first green power plant to open in Malaysia.

According to Ahmad: 'The Felda Global Group is pursuing several projects to fully utilise EFB produced by its mills. Some 70 other projects are in progress and in the pipeline, including composting, pellet production and combined heat and power (CHP) projects. By 2013 EFB produced by all 71 mills in the Felda Global Group will be fully consumed,' he says.