Transitioning to a sustainable development framework for bioenergy in Malaysia: policy suggestions to catalyse the utilisation of palm oil mill residues

Siti Fatihah Salleh*, Mohd Eqwan Mohd Roslan, Adlansyah Abd Rahman, Abdul Halim Shamsuddin, Tuan Ab Rashid Tuan Abdullah, Benjamin K. Sovacool

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
217 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The global commitment to climate change mitigation enforces the worldwide development of renewable energy sources. Therefore, various studies have investigated the growth of renewable energy in Malaysia, most commonly based on biogas and hydropower. In this article, the dynamics of Malaysia’s renewable energy development is critically examined by using the latest official national reports and other reliable resources. Results: The study reveals the influencing factors that shape renewable energy growth in a developing country endowed with substantial biomass resources, such as Malaysia. Likewise, it evaluates the evolution of renewable energy in the electricity sector. In 2017, renewable energy represented about 3.5% of the Malaysian electricity generation mix with 1122 MW of installed capacity. A closer look into the renewable energy resources, i.e. biomass, biogas, solar and small hydro power, revealed that over 47% of the grid-connected power generation came from solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. While solar PV capacity continues to accelerate, the development of other renewable resources, especially biomass, is seeing growth at a significantly slower pace. This article investigates the underlying causes of the skewed development rate as well as the potential strategies that may be adopted to promote a diversification of renewable energy resources. In light of this, introduction of a new national bioenergy policy is proposed, through which four essential programmes could be implemented: (i) enhanced bioenergy conversion efficiency and waste management, (ii) biomass co-firing in coal power plants, (iii) conversion of biogas to biomethane and bio-compressed natural gas (bio-CNG), (iv) large-scale biomass power plants. A total of 4487 MW of additional power could be connected to the grid upon successful implementation of a large-scale biomass power plant programme. Conclusions: The establishment of a comprehensive and inclusive national bioenergy policy will lead towards a sustainable future of renewable energy development in Malaysia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalEnergy, Sustainability and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Biogas
  • Biomass
  • Co-firing
  • Electricity
  • Energy policy
  • Large-scale power plant
  • Renewable energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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