RMK-12: Palm oil-based biodiesel use to be scaled up in Malaysia – B15 and B20 soon, up to B30 by 2025 – paultan.org

Prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently presented the 12th Malaysia Plan, or Rancangan Malaysia Ke-12 (RMK-12), which is a five-year guide for the country’s development from 2021 to 2025. In it, the government touched upon biodiesel usage and how it will be scaled up in the years to come.

Before we continue further, here’s a recap of the current situation. At most fuel stations currently, you will have access to Euro 5 B10 biodiesel, which replaced Euro 2M diesel across Malaysia as of April 1. This blend of 10% palm methyl ester and 90% regular diesel was first introduced in 2019 and is the base type of diesel that follows the pricing of Euro 2M previously, marked by a black nozzle.

The alternative that costs 10 sen more is Euro 5 B7 biodiesel, which has been available since 2019, and is identified by a blue nozzle at the pumps. This blend is made up of 7% palm methyl ester and 93% regular diesel, and is offered as an option at most fuel stations, with the exception of those in Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands in Pahang and Kundasang in Sabah, where it is the standard biodiesel offering at those places.

The next step, B20 biodiesel was launched for the transportation sector in 2020, with the fuel (20% palm methyl ester and 80% regular diesel) being implemented in Langkawi and Labuan. Originally, the nationwide implementation of B20 biodiesel was supposed to happen in June 2021. However, this was later pushed forward to early 2022, although then plantation industries and commodities minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said this was more likely to happen by the end of 2022.

Under the RMK-12 plan, the government has reconfirmed its commitment to expand the B20 biodiesel programme throughout the country in stages. By end of the plan, which is 2025, B30 biodiesel (30% palm methyl ester and 70% regular diesel) will be introduced.

The plan didn’t include a detailed timeline of how all this will happen, but it did state that for the transportation sector, the biodiesel blend will be “continuously upgraded from B15 (15% palm methyl ester and 85% regular diesel) to B20 and eventually to B30.” The mention of a B15 biodiesel blend is new, as it was previously understood that the jump is from B10 to B20.

Continuing on, the plan adds that the government will conduct the necessary assessments to “identify the gaps and costs required to upgrade blending depots to be B30-compliant.” The government will also engage with stakeholders to address issues of manufacturers’ acceptance of B30 biodiesel.

The transportation sector is different from the industry sector, with the latter being where regular consumers reside. According to the RMK-12 plan, the biodiesel programme will be expanded from B7 to B10 for the industry sector to promote greater usage of cleaner fuel. Again, there are no further details as to when this will take place, but it would appear that Euro 5 B7 biodiesel will be dropped entirely, with Euro 5 B10 being the only blend consumers will get.

The prior switch from Euro 2M to Euro 5 for all diesel sold is certainly cleaner for the environment, as the latter has a way lower sulphur content at 10 parts per million (ppm) compared to 500 ppm for Euro 2M. The lower the content of sulphur, the lower the emission of pollutants, and a cleaner fuel also helps extend engine life and improves fuel efficiency.

As for the biodiesel content, there’s still the ongoing issue of compatibility. Vehicle manufacturers have voiced their concern about B10 biodiesel in the past, where it was claimed that the usage of higher blends beyond B7 may result in fatty-acid methyl ester mixing with motor oil, causing the oil to thin and possibly leading to sludging in the engine. Pushing the blend to B20 and even up to B30 will likely reignite these concerns.

Tags: 12th Malaysia Plan

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