Indonesia set to expand use of bioenergy

The need for clearer policies, more trees and other plants for biomass and fuel, and use of organic waste from agriculture were some of the topics discussed at an international clean-energy forum for Indonesia that quickened the agenda towards a sustainable energy economy that will boost rural development.

The Government of Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand production of bioenergy crops. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

The Government of Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand production of bioenergy crops. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

The Bali Clean Energy Forum, held at the Nusa Dua Convention Center, 11—12 February 2016, brought together representatives of 26 countries; the private sector; experts in the field of energy; civil society; and young people. It was organized by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in cooperation with the International Energy Agency.

The Center of Excellence for Clean Energy was launched at the forum.  It is an integrated centre for research, development of research results, education, capacity-building implementation and facilitation of investment in clean-energy development with three main needs: information, technology and financing. The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Sudirman Said stated that it will become ‘a connecting channel for national preparedness in realizing an energy system based on clean and sustainable energy sources because it supports efforts to accelerate the development of renewable energy up to 23% in the composition of the national energy mix by 2025. For a period of four years, the centre will focus on supporting efforts to develop the 35 MW electrification programs, of which 25% or about 8.8 GW will come from renewable energy’.

Dr Ingrid Öborn, regional coordinator Southeast Asia, World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Ingrid Öborn, regional coordinator Southeast Asia, World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) hosted a session on bioenergy at the forum, moderated by ICRAF’s Southeast Asia regional coordinator, Dr Ingrid Öborn, and chaired by Mr Budi Basuki, chief operating officer of Medco Energy International, that featured six speakers who addressed critical aspects of decreasing Indonesia’s reliance on fossil fuels and creating a ‘green’ economy through bioenergy. Bioenergy can be obtained from biomass, biofuel and by using organic wastes for biogas.

The session began with a presentation from Senator Parlindungan Purba from North Sumatra Province, chairman of Committee II of the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah/DPD), which is charged with liaison between numerous ministries, including Energy and Mineral Resources. Senator Purba gave four reasons why renewable energy was being discussed globally not just in Indonesia.

Senator Parlindungan Purba (left) and Mr Budi Basuki. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Senator Parlindungan Purba (left) and Mr Budi Basuki. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

‘First, to ensure continued global economic growth with the advent of peak oil, a reliable energy supply will be necessary to support sustained economic growth’, he said. ‘Second, continued population growth meant an unprecedented demand for energy. Third, political instability in oil-producing regions fed a search for alternatives. Finally, the threat posed by climate change is fuelling the search to achieve sustainable growth’.

Driven by specific new laws, regulations and presidential instructions since 2006, Indonesia has been moving to make better use of its vast natural resources for bioenergy production and to increase its economic growth, based on World Bank predictions that if the least-developed regions in the country could achieve growth of more than 20% a year, Indonesia’s national growth could reach 8%. To this end, argued Senator Purba, electricity supply had to be prioritized in those regions. Given that 12,000 villages do not receive electricity from the state-owned company, Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), local governments in remote but natural-resource-rich areas should commit to improve electrification through bioenergy. However, financial services would be needed, which would include speeding the permit process for renewable energy investment and creating incentives for local technology manufacturers and R&D institutions. He also argued that other measures would be needed, such as revision of the law on renewable energy, formation of an independent agency to monitor and evaluate progress and, essentially, identification of available land that is not needed for food supply.

Dr Bambang Supriyanto. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Bambang Supriyanto. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Bambang Supriyanto, head of Research and Development at the Social, Economic, Policy and Climate Change Center of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, reinforced Senator Purba’s remarks, noting that ‘Indonesia’s future energy consumption is predicted to reach an alarming rate so that by 2030 the nation will need to import 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. By 2050, Indonesia would have used all its reserves of coal and natural gas’.

As part of addressing this, Indonesia’s national energy policy mandated that the 20% share of biodiesel in 2016 had to rise to 30% by 2020 and bioethanol to 20%. This meant that forests and plantations should produce 9.2 million kilolitre of biodiesel from biomass from various sources, including oil palm and trees, such as ‘nyamplung’ (Callophyllum inophillum), which is being more intensively researched by the Center. If proven successful, the 500,000 ha already covered by the tree would be able to meet just under 29% of national demand for biodiesel. The remainder could be made up by palm oil if 20% of current amount was diverted to biodiesel production. To produce electricity from biomass, Dr Supriyanto argued that 1.5 million ha of plantation forests would be needed to fill the gap between supply and demand. Around 800,000 ha of state forest under the jurisdiction of forest management units are proposed to be designated as ‘energy forest’ with 70,000 ha of land that falls under the community forest, village forest and community plantation forest categories to be allocated for biomass production. The trees the Center is promoting for this purpose include ‘akor’ (Acacia auriculiformis), ‘kaliandra’ (Caliandra calothirsus), ‘weru’ (Albizia procera) and ‘turi’ (Sesbania grandifora).

Dr Rudolf Rauch. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Rudolf Rauch. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Rudolf Rauch, director of the Renewable Energy Program with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Indonesia, has worked for 10 years in Asia and found that often energy policy was not integrated with agro-industrial development. He saw that waste from agricultural production held huge potential for meeting a number of energy needs quickly and at relatively low cost. In Thailand, agroindustry consumes most electricity, 60% of which is produced from biomass.

‘There are a lot of gains to be had, especially in tropical countries with year-round biomass’, he said. ‘There is a huge surplus of biomass waste in the palm-oil industry, for example. We can also think of using agricultural waste not just purely for electricity. With oil palm in Thailand, producers use the waste to increase profit through biogas plants used in the palm-oil processing system. These systems not only reduce the operating costs of the processing plant but sell electricity to nearby communities, which are often far from the grid’.

Integrated development strategies that incorporated such systems would provide the greatest benefits: to agriculture through improved livelihoods; to industry through job creation, increased productivity and international competitiveness; to the nation through renewable energy security and rural electrification; and to the environment through mitigation of greenhouse gases through converting waste to energy, which is one of the most cost-efficient measures.

Dr Sonya Dewi, Indonesia program coordinator, World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Sonya Dewi, Indonesia program coordinator, World Agroforestry Centre. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Dr Sonya Dewi, ICRAF’s Indonesia country coordinator, discussed three aspects of bioenergy from a ‘landscape’ perspective, which can be read in greater detail via these links: Bioenergy crops need to be chosen carefully; Bioenergy can bring clean power to remote areas of Indonesia; and Making the most of mangroves. She reminded the audience that local contexts and drivers of land-use change matter if any of the plans discussed in the session were to come to fruition without undue delay or conflict. Particular attention had to be paid to the needs of smallholders already living in, or reliant on, the landscapes earmarked for intensification or use as feedstock-production areas for bioenergy plants. Such plans had to be integrated into district and provincial land-use planning with robust and effective monitoring and evaluation, taking into account broader societal needs for ecosystem services. For this, a ‘bottom–up’ methodology was necessary to promote inclusive, integrated and informed processes, such as the Land-use Planning for Multiple Environmental Services (LUMENS) system that had been developed by Dr Dewi and team in Indonesia. It is being successfully tested in diverse biophysical and socio-economic districts from Papua to Sumatra and has been mandated for use in the national greenhouse-gas reduction plan by the National Development Planning Agency. Synergies between local and national policies on bioenergy are also necessary to ensure sustainable value chains by accommodating local circumstances and aligning them with national targets. Lastly, she underlined the importance of designing feasibility studies pertaining to replications and expansion, beyond pilot areas.

Mr Andianto Hidayat. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Mr Andianto Hidayat. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Mr Andianto Hidayat, technology and product development manager of the state-owned oil and energy company, Pertamina, noted that the deficit in Indonesia’s trade balance was largely due to oil and gas, with the nation set to become the world’s biggest fuel importer by 2018. Hence, there was increasing investment in the search for viable alternatives. Pertamina is focusing on improving biodiesel production, particularly, from palm oil but also deepening research and trials into biogas, municipal solid waste and electricity generation.

Ir Kees Kwant. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Ir Kees Kwant. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Ir Kees Kwant, chair of the International Energy Agency’s bioenergy section and senior expert bioenergy and bio-based economy, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, shared the IEA’s vision for the growth of a ‘bio-based economy’. The Netherlands, for example, had mandated an increase in the share of biofuel in the economy from the current 5.3 to 14% within the next four years and the European Union as a whole expected a 20% average of renewable energy throughout the EU, also by 2020. He cautioned that moving towards such a sustainable economy required additional effort in terms of time, cost, learning and creating acceptance but that sustainability was crucial and provided opportunities for long-term business. As well as providing examples of successfully operating systems in Europe, he urged the audience to make use of the IEA’s Bioenergy How2Guide when planning their own. He concluded by reiterating that biomass was an important part of a renewable energy portfolio; that sustainable biomass is possible; that improved use of biomass is needed; and that bioenergy can be integrated into existing or new industrial operations, such as through bio-refineries. Finally, Ir Kwant invited Indonesia to join the IEA’s bioenergy technology collaboration program to share challenges and solutions with the other 23 nations involved, including the European Union.

A strong message that emerged from the session was that there was an urgent need for cross-sectoral collaboration between all involved if the government’s targets for renewable energy supply were to be met and turn Indonesia into a bio-based economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

 

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This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

 

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Rob Finlayson

Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist and currently interim head of communications global. In his role as regional communications specialist, as well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the four countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization. As interim head of communications, Rob manages communications staff in Latin America, Africa and Asia and is overseeing implementation of ICRAF's Global Communications Group restructure.

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