Official Launching of Sarawak’s First Industrial Microalgae Production Facility CHITOSE Carbon Capture Central Sarawak


10 MAY 2023

Earlier today, Sarawak’s first industrial microalgae production, the CHITOSE Carbon Capture Central Sarawak (C4 Sarawak) was officially launched, marking a significant milestone towards achieving a sustainable green economy for Sarawak, aligned to its Green Energy Agenda.

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, congratulated the official launching of the facility, together with Sarawak State Secretary and Chairman for Sarawak Biodiversity Council (SBC), Datuk Amar Haji Mohamad Abu Bakar bin Marzuki, Sarawak Energy’s Chairman, Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed bin Haji Sepawi, Deputy Chief of Mission from The Embassy of Japan Mr Karimata Atsushi, CHITOSE Group Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tomohiro Fujita; Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Yeo Tiong Chia.

The microalgae project, which began in 2020, is led by Japan's CHITOSE Group (the primary contractor for the microalgae research project), Sarawak Energy, and SBC. The project is fully funded by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and managed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

CHITOSE Group is responsible for the cultivation and production of microalgae biomass, and product research and development with Sarawak Energy providing the necessary exhausted gas containing carbon dioxide to cultivate microalgae from its coal-fired power plant through a flue gas delivery system. Meanwhile, SBC offers qualified researchers and skilled manpower to assist with the successful cultivation and production of high-quality microalgae biomass.

Abang Zohari pointed out that Sarawak prioritises environmental sustainability, aligning Sarawak’s development path with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, where balanced economic growth is pursued in order to manage our natural resources in a measured, responsible way.

“Sarawak has our own ambition to become a high-income state by 2030 under the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS), which is also in line with the UNSDGs. PCDS 2030 aims to reverse the far-reaching negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and transform Sarawak into a competitive and sustainable economy, powered by renewable energy such as hydropower, floating solar and hydrogen.”

He also highlighted that Sarawak is also progressing its Green Energy Agenda, moving towards decarbonisation and allowing Sarawak to participate in building a more sustainable energy future by facilitating the reduction of emissions at both the local and global level.

“C4 Sarawak and the research that it will conduct potentially lays the foundation for the development of a new economy within the State – creating significant economic value for Sarawak’s people while ensuring sustainability remains a priority.”

He pointed out that by utilising CO2, a by-product of energy production from the plant, for microalgae production, the facility is successfully reducing emissions while contributing to the state's decarbonisation targets and Green Energy Agenda. Additionally, C4 Sarawak can drive Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) exploration, which is crucial to fulfilling PCDS 2030, making it an essential step forward in the journey towards a sustainable future.

“Everyone can contribute to energy resilience and sustainability by working together and bringing their own strengths to the table as policy makers, corporate leaders or renewable energy players. Ultimately, this facility is the latest example of Sarawak’s focus on exploring and engaging with innovative new technologies to embed sustainability within the state,” he said.

Abdul Hamed emphasised that even as Sarawak Energy continues to grow its renewable energy in its generation mix, thermal generation from indigenous coal and gas is still necessary to maintain security of supply. As such, Sarawak Energy continues to find ways to minimise the emission produced from coal-powered generation.

He said, “Our role in this project is to explore carbon capture and the potential production of biofuels through the integration of microalgae technology, which is provided by CHITOSE and SBC, in a coal fired power plant. In line with this, we have established a flue gas delivery system from our Sejingkat Coal-fired Power Plant to the industrial scale microalgae production facility.”

He highlighted that microalgae cultivation provides a green method of capturing CO2. Rather than introducing hazardous chemicals, which may compromise the safety of the research project team as well as the environment, microalgae can be leveraged to achieve the same outcome naturally.

“Based on an earlier study, the facility is expected to capture 450 tonnes of CO2 and produce 300 tonnes of dried biomass annually. In addition, the downstream applications of capturing CO2 through microalgae will create another wave of economic value, resulting in potential products like sustainable aviation fuels, animal feeds and pharmaceutical products, in comparison to pure carbon storage.”

“In addition, C4 Sarawak will also be used to conduct research into industrial scale microalgae production. This is essential information for the future development and expansion of microalgae production in tropical climates like Sarawak’s”, he added.

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg delivering his officiating speech at the event

Sarawak Energy’s Chairman, Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed bin Haji Sepawi delivering his speech at the launch of Sarawak’s First Industrial Microalgae Production Facility.

CHITOSE Group Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tomohiro Fujita speaks at the launch of Sarawak’s First Industrial Microalgae Production Facility.

Presentation of souvenir to The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Open

The Premier of Sarawak, The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg and honored guests were given a tour of the microalgae production facility.

Group photo at Sarawak's first industrial microalgae production facility