Malaysia palm oil’s life cycle assessment incorporating methane capture by 2020
Vijaya Subramaniam, Choo Yuen May, Halimah Muhamad, Zulkifli Hashim

Abstract
In the past, the norm to determine the competitiveness of palm oil is by
conducting a direct economic comparison with other vegetable oils. However,
with increasing attention on sustainable development, the environmental and
social relevance of palm oil production are now defining issues in trade. In
2012, the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) of USA, under the
Renewable Fuels Standard 2 (RFS2), published the Notice of Data Availability
(NODA) ruling that oil palm biofuel does not meet the GHG threshold
requirements when compared to fossil fuel. In their calculations they
assumedthat only 10% of the palm oil mills in Malaysia and Indonesia will have
biogas capture facilities by 2020. A comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) study of Malaysian oil palm products from mineral soils was carried out by MPOB. One of the outcomes of this study was the identification of methane
emissions from the POME treatment to be a significant contributor to the GHG emissions along the supply chain. Following this, the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), included biogas trapping as one of the eight Entry Point Projects of the palm oil sector; that targets that all palm oil mills will capture their biogas by the year 2020. The objective of this study was to compare the national GHG emissions if palm oil mills do not capture their biogas and savings that the oil palm industry will contribute if all the palm oil mills capture biogas. This study has a cradle to gate system boundary which starts at the oil palm nurseries followed by the plantations up to the palm oil mills. The land use scenario used in this study at the plantation was the continued land usechange from oil palm to oil palm. Allocation is carried out at the palm oil mill with the by products.
Three scenarios were considered: annual GHG emissions in Malaysia from the biogas and the production of CPO ( with allocation) with no biogas capture facilities; annual GHG emissions and savings in Malaysia from the biogas and the production of CPO ( with allocation) with 10% of the palm oil mills having biogas capture facilities and annual GHG emissions and savings in Malaysia from the biogas and the production of CPO ( with allocation) with 100% of the palm oil mills having biogas capture facilities. Using the 2013 production figures for Malaysia, the GHG emissions from the biogas alone was 18.36 million t CO2eq/year while the total GHG emissions for CPO was 18.66 million t CO2eq/year. With 10% of the palm oil mills capturing the biogas; the GHG emissions from biogas reduced to 16.74 million t CO2eq/year with total savings of 0.99 million t CO2eq/year while the total GHG emissions for CPO was 17.66 million t CO2eq/year. With 100% of the mills having biogas capture the GHG emissions reduces drastically to 2.07 million t CO2eq/year with total savings of 16.30 million t CO2eq/year while the total GHG emissions for CPO was 8.67 million t CO2eq/year.
23 December, 2014
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