Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal Vol. 3 (2) September 2003 p. 15-20

Empty Fruit Bunches Evaluation: Mulch in Plantation vs. Fuel for Electricity Generation

N Ravi Menon; Zulkifli Ab Rahman and Nasrin Abu Bakar
Received:    Accepted:    Available Online:


There are compelling reasons for supporting the use of empty fruit bunches (EFB) as a source of fuelfor renewable energy (RE) power generation. Although the current use of EFB as a mulch does have financial benefits, there are better financial gains, with a number of other advantages when used as a fuel for RE power generation. The rapid depletion of fossil fuel needs an alternative replacement and most developed nations are pursuing the development of biomass as an alternative method of power generation. In Malaysia, fortunately the country has a ready source of biomass in EFB. It is conveniently collected and available for exploitation in all palm oil mills. All that needs to be done is to convert the energy in the fuel in the most efficient manner and the country is well on the way to pursue this most important and sustainable renewable source of energy for the future. As the country has to meet the target of achieving 5% of its grid connected electrical energy from this source by the year 2005, it has to move fast. The main achievement will be the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) if biomass-based RE power generation is used where there is a gain of substantial volume of carbon credits. This factor alone is a compelling reason to pursue. A deeper insight into the mechanism of EFB utilization with the financial analysis, if used as a mulch or fuel, is presented in this paper, without taking into account the capital investment involved in the RE power project.

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