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Sarawak to Export Green Hydrogen by 2030

Date Published
December 21, 2023

The green hydrogen to be produced in Bintulu will be exported to Japan. Photo credit: iStock/Petmal.

Sarawak is forging ahead with its plan to create ASEAN’s first green hydrogen economy. It aims to start exporting hydrogen that is produced using renewable energy by 2030.

At the ASEAN Japan Economic Co-Creation Forum in Tokyo this month, SEDC Energy, a subsidiary of the Sarawak Economic Development Corp. set up by the Malaysian state, sealed the deal with two Japanese companies, Eneos and Sumitomo Corp, to jointly develop a clean hydrogen supply chain with production facilities in the coastal town of Bintulu.

Hydrogen can be generated from domestic waste and nonrenewable and renewable feedstocks. Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water by electrolysis.

Malaysia launched its Hydrogen Economy and Technology Roadmap in October. The country is relying on hydrogen to help provide reliable, affordable and sustainable energy, and contribute to achieving national decarbonization targets.

The Sarawak project will use hydropower to electrolyze water and produce about 90,000 tons per year of green hydrogen, including 2,000 tons for local consumption. The rest will be converted to methylcyclohexane (MCH), a liquid hydrogen carrier, and exported to Japan. The project site is located at a large petrochemical industrial park with shipping and port facilities.

SEDC Energy will take the lead on power procurement and hydrogen production.

Sarawak has abundant hydropower resources. Its total capacity for hydroelectric power is currently 3.5 gigawatts, and there are plans to add 1.3GW by 2025. The state is also actively developing its own hydrogen production and technology. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) built Southeast Asia’s first integrated hydrogen production plant and refueling station in 2019. Petronas and SEDC Energy are working together to develop local expertise in manufacturing the state oil company’s electrolyser technology and integrating it into the state’s plant systems.

Meanwhile, Sumitomo will take the lead in evaluating the project feasibility and financing arrangements, while Eneos will be responsible for the technical aspect of MCH production and maritime transportation to Japan.

In a news release, Sumitomo said, “We are also keen on MCH as an efficient form of hydrogen transportation and believe that by combining it with the abundant hydroelectric resource of Sarawak state, we can produce and transport clean hydrogen at an early stage which could be highly competitive. By promoting this business and other hydrogen-related businesses, we shall realize a sustainable energy cycle and consequently contribute to decarbonization and climate change mitigation.”

According to Eneos, MCH is an efficient way to transport hydrogen as it contains “over 500 times more hydrogen per volume than hydrogen gas.”