The government has finally launched its B20 biodiesel programme for the transportation sector today, having implemented the fuel – which consists of 20% palm methyl ester and 80% regular diesel – in Langkawi and Labuan last month. From there, its availability will be expanded in stages starting in Sarawak in April and Sabah in August before eventually being rolled out across Peninsular Malaysia by June 2021.

The new fuel will replace B10 biodiesel (which was only introduced last February) at over 3,400 stations nationwide, except in the Cameron and Genting Highlands in Pahang and Kundasang in Sabah where B7 biodiesel will continue to be used. Retailers will also continue to offer B7 Euro 5 diesel at selected stations.

According to the ministry of primary industries (MPI), the government aims to encourage the use of domestic palm oil and stabilise prices with the move, which is expected to increase the consumption of palm oil by 534,000 tonnes a year to around 1.3 million tonnes a year. This is expected to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by as much as 3.8 million tonnes a year, the ministry said.

Minister Teresa Kok said the agency has worked with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to conduct field testing with Selangor city councils in Kajang, Subang Jaya, Ampang Jaya, Shah Alam and Selayang. Carmakers and distributors such as Tan Chong Industrial Equipment (TCIE) and Hyundai Sime Darby Motors, as well as transportation companies like FGV Transport and SOP Transport, also participated.

“Thirty-five of MPI and MPOB’s own vehicles in Putrajaya and MPOB headquarters have also been using B20 fuel since June 2019 without any issues reported until now,” she said, adding that the Kuala Lumpur city council (DBKL) will commence B30 biodiesel field testing with MPOB this June with 30 to 50 vehicles, as part of its goal of becoming a low-carbon city.

Kok also said that the ministry, MPOB and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) have conducted studies of B20 biodiesel on Euro 5 diesel vehicles, together with experts at Mazda Malaysia and the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and Internet of Things Institute (MARii).

The tests, which are supported by the road transport department (JPJ) and the department of environment (JAS), consists of two parts. Lab tests conducted at the Japan Automotive Research Institute (JARI) are expected to be completed in April, while local field tests will use two units of the Mazda CX-5.

As for compatibility with local vehicles, Kok said that the ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) has already issued a directive to car dealers and manufacturers requiring all imported vehicles to be compatible with B20 biodiesel, starting from January 1. This directive, she said, is part of the new National Automotive Policy (NAP), which will be revealed tomorrow.