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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Palm oil biodiesel

Monbiot's concerns about the impact of palm-oil-based biodiesel on the environment appear not to concern business types in Malaysia. From The Star, a Malaysian news website:
IOI Corp Bhd is planning to set up a biodiesel plant, costing around RM100mil, with a capacity of at least 150,000 tonnes a year, said group executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng.

Speaking to reporters after the EGMs of IOI Corp and IOI Oleochemical Industries Bhd in Putrajaya yesterday, Lee said the group was still ironing out the details, such as the plant's location and when it would start operations.

“The plant would either be here or in Holland,” he said.
Just a minor "detail" of some 6000 miles--but I digress. Further on in the article:
On Monday, the country’s pioneer biodiesel players, Golden Hope Plantations Bhd, Kumpulan Fima Bhd and Carotino Sdn Bhd, signed agreements for joint-venture biodiesel plants with Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

The plants – two in Klang and one in Pasir Gudang – are estimated to cost about RM40mil each and have a combined annual production capacity of 180,000 tonnes or 60,000 tonnes each.
Biofuel, based on palm oil, can reduce Malaysia's dependence on petroleum and also has good export potential. The Government has in the pipeline a National Biofuel Policy encompassing the formulation of the Biofuel Act and its provisions.
Somehow I'm guessing that the company that can't decide whether to build the plant in Malaysia or Holland is planning on exploiting the "good export potential."

As I implied last week, it's always a tragedy when potentially good technologies become destructive. Obviously, biodiesel isn't a sustainable resource when it comes from genetically-modified palm trees grown on the slashed-and-burned ashes of a rain forest and tended by child slave labor, then shipped 6000 miles away so the Dutch can drive to Starbucks. (Note--I don't have any evidence for the GM or the child slave labor parts of that last sentence; just making a point.) European environmentalists should reject all imports of biodiesel from distant lands, and all enthusiasts of biodiesel and other green technologies, including myself, need to carefully consider all of the effects these technologies may have.