KUCHING, Oct 23 — Sarawak will be ready to produce hydrogen fuel for export by 2023 with the completion of a large-scale production facility in Bintulu, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said today.
He said the Bintulu facility, located at the Petrochemical Park, will be capable of producing 1,000 tons of hydrogen a year in the first few years of production.
“The state-of-the-art plant itself can be scalable and to be further expanded for hydrogen production of 10,000 tons per year as the need arises,” he said at the virtual signing ceremony of a tripartite memorandum of understanding between SEDC Energy Sdn Bhd and its strategic partners Sumitomo Corporation and Eneos Corporation, both from Japan.
The chief minister said presently both Australia and Brunei have already exported hydrogen to Japan using “toluene” as the carrier.
He added hydrogen is added to toluene to create methylcyclohexane [C7H14), a liquid that can be shipped safely in containers at room temperature to Japan where hydrogen is extracted at their dehydrogenation plant.
“As the Bintulu project is still under research and development, there would be further development, especially on cost reduction measures,” he said.
He said the state is enhancing its renewable energy capacities in line with the green economic policy actively being adopted worldwide.
He expects a bigger market in the next few years, noting that more consumers were switching to hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“Our common problem of carbon emission resulting from the use of fossil fuels is indirectly driving up the costs of living affecting all strata of our society and this needs to be effectively addressed.
“While some countries have already taken the mitigating steps in reducing the pressures of relying too much on fossil fuel, but the challenge is how the rest of the global community can take part in developing renewable energy which include the production of clean hydrogen that will help in nature conservation, sustainable power generation and reduce carbon emission that causes global warming,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state government cannot view the production of renewable energy as a form of damage control on the environment but as the next source of power supply.
“Sarawak is aiming to leverage on the abundance of raw materials that we have including the cheap electricity tariffs produced by our own hydropower dams which enables us to actually produce the hydrogen gas with cost-effectiveness in mind where the production system itself must be viable in order to achieve sustainability in the long haul,” he added.