Biomass Energy Potentials And Utilization In Indonesia


Laboratory of Energy and Agricultural Electrification, Department of Agricultural Engineering, IPB

And Indonesian Renewable Energy Society (IRES),

PO Box 220, Darmaga Campus of IPB, Darmaga, Bogor, 16002. Indonesia,

Tel./Fax.: +62 251 621886/7; E-mail:


It is estimated that Indonesia produces 146.7 million tons of biomass per year, equivalent to

about 470 GJ/y. The source of biomass energy is scattered all over the country, but the big

potential in concentrated scale can be found in the Island of Kalimantan, Sumatera, Irian Jaya

and Sulawesi. Recently, the Indonesian government had issued several policies which put higher

priority on the utilization of renewable energy. For example, renewable energy is being

prioritized as the sole source of energy for the newly launched program called the distributed

Small Power System, in which small power producers can generate electricity up to one MW

and interconnected to the medium and low voltage national grid, and to be purchased by the

national utility company (the PLN) at some percentages of the locally determined basic sales


Key words: Small power producer, Distributed power system, Green energy insight


The rapid depletion of our oil reserve, with R/P (Reserve/ Production) of 18 years will force Indonesia to

find alternative energy supply to sustain economic development (Dasuki, 2000). In the future Indonesia’s

energy consumption is expected to increase along with economic recovery sometimes in 2003. The

Directorate General of Electricity and Energy Utilization (DGEEU) (Maryam Ayuni, 2000), has

estimated that the total energy consumption, excluding biomass energy, will increase from 376.22 MBOE

(million Barrel of Oil Equivalent) to 474.36 MBOE in 2003 or an increment of 26%. The highest energy

demand is expected to come from the transportation sector while the household sector will remain at the

third place.

Rural development in the developing country such as Indonesia should be directed to provide access to

basic energy services to produce the basic human needs for food, shelter and clothing. In addition,

economic recovery for Indonesia should begin from rural development, where renewable energy sources

are already existing to help SMEs, in processing the potential natural resources in the area. In this respect

renewable energy, such as solar, wind, micro-hydro and biomass, is usually available in the rural area and

hence, by transforming and converting these sources of energy to power various processing machines,

added value of agricultural and marine products can be made. This in turn will provide more job

opportunity to the people in the rural area and ultimately lead to gradual improvement in the quality of

their life.

Biomass resources can be transformed into different kind of foods and energy. Solid biomass is

commonly used as fuel for cooking and other thermal processes in small and medium industries, as fuel

for boilers, but can also be transformed into gaseous and liquid fuel such as in the form of ethanol and

bio-diesel. The rapid depletion of fossil fuel in Indonesia, has increase R/D efforts and activities related to

biomass conversion technology. The Energy Minister had created a special task force, in 2001 in order to

study any tangible results and breakthroughs of these efforts and recommend any required regulatory

policy and incentives to promote renewable energy in the country.

This paper will describe some of the results of these efforts and potential markets for biomass energy

application in Indonesia.


Shown in Fig.1 is the projection of energy supply and demand as predicted using the Hubbert curve

(1983) and consumption data from the DGEEU (2001). According to this figure, Indonesia will become

net oil importing country within the next 10-20 years if the energy demand will follow past trends even

when conservation program is implemented and drastic improvement in energy efficiency could be

achieved. Despite of the high renewable energy potential in Indonesia as shown in Table 1, only a small

amount had been utilized effectively to help in reducing pressure on the depleting oil resources. In

relation to the coming era of energy crisis, Indonesia has to accelerate the use renewable energy sources,

particularly biomass and geothermal energy .which have a significant impact due to bigger power

generation capacity per unit while gas and coal have been exported to earn important sources of foreign

exchange beside oil. In addition, the promotion of renewable energy utilization can trigger rural

industrialization in the form of SMEs and cooperatives to help in increasing added value of natural

resources in various regions of the country, create more employment opportunity, and ultimately improve

the overall quality of life of the people living in the rural areas.

Recently, to accelerate the utilization of renewable energy in Indonesia, the DGEEU, had issued a draft of

new energy policy in order to promote further the development of renewable energy sources, improve

energy efficiency and GHG abatement last June 2002 and is called the green energy insight. In addition,

Ministerial Decree No.1122 K/30/MEM/2002 on Distributed Small Power Generation (PSK Tersebar),

has come into effect starting June 12 2002. This decree will provide opportunity for small power

producers such as the cooperative to generate electricity up to 1 MW from renewable energy and

interconnected to the medium and low tension grid and will be purchased by PLN at 80% and 60%,

respectively at the medium and low tension interconnection. The formulation of government regulation

for the medium and higher power generation capacity from renewable energy is now underway.


It is estimated that Indonesia produces 146.7 million tons of biomass per year, equivalent to about 470

GJ/y. As shown in Table 2, the main source of biomass energy in Indonesia can be obtained from rice

residues which give the largest technical energy potential of 150 GJ/year, rubber wood with 120 GJ/year,

sugar residues with 78 GJ/year, palm oil residues, 67 GJ/year, and the rest with smaller than 20 GJ/year

are from plywood and veneer residues, logging residues, sawn timber residues, coconut residues, and

agricultural wastes (ZREU,2000). These sources of biomass can help in supplying both heat and

electricity for rural house hold and industries.


Fire wood, for example, is still the main source of energy for cooking in most of the developing countries.

Table 2 gives example on the demand of fuel wood in some developing countries as compared to the use

of fossil fuel in some developed countries. In Indonesia, for example, beside kerosene and gas most rural

household and to some extend some of the urban households are still using fire wood or agricultural

wastes for cooking. In Indonesia the energy consumption for cooking in the rural household is estimated

at 0.88 m3 of fuel wood /head/year or equivalent to about 17.7 MJ/person/day. (Kamaruddin, 1988). Stove

efficiency used for cooking is still low from the traditional three stone with 5% efficiency to a refined

wood stove such as the two pot un-insulated metal wood stove with efficiency of 27.9% (Baldwin, 1987).

A simple stoves can be made using used oil barrel with saw dust as fuel. Such stove has about 16%

thermal efficiency, can be as cooking stove as main or auxiliary heating component for process heat in

small processing unit (Kamaruddin, 2000) and in various agro-based industries. Such technology is also

being used to dry sawn coconut wood in wooden house industry in Manado, North Sulawesi

Biomass energy can be also converted to produce electricity and ,mechanical energy, which are necessary

to support our daily activities at home, office or industries. For example, as shown in Table 5, a saw mill

with 1000 – 3000 m3/y capacity can produce 40- 100kWe using CHP (combined heat and power)

technology, while a sugar mill with 1000- 4000 TCD (total cane/day) can produce 3-10 MWe. Boilers

working with a pressure up to 15 bar are mostly used to generate process steam e.g. for cane cooking in

the sugar industry and to produce mechanical energy utilising steam engines. These types of boilers

represent around 66 % of the total boilers installed at sugar mills. Boilers operating above 15 bar are

mostly combined with large steam turbines for electricity generation. Despite of the huge potential of

biomass energy in Indonesia its utilization in Indonesia is limited to large sugar and palm oil plantation.

From the 15 applicants for demonstration project for renewable energy six proposals had been

preliminary selected by the task force team for further study on their feasibility either for commercial use

or for community development program. The selected proposals for commercialization purposes

comprise of three power generations using rice hull and oil palm wastes, one micro-hydro power

generations and one proposal in the form of PV modules for solar home system. One selected proposal

was aimed for community development by integrating solar, biomass and wind energy to power small

scale processing unit of various agricultural and marine products in the rural areas. The power generation

using rice hull gasifier to Riau province was proposed by BPPT and local industry and is capable to

produce 18 kW electricity from a 25 KAV unit and sold at Rp. Rp406.45/kWh (or about US$

0.051/kWh),. The quoted tariff is a little higher that the targeted purchasing price of PLN under the newly

enacted Small Distributed Power Generation program (improvement of the old PSKSKSM) by the

Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. Since the production cost of the proposed unit is still higher

than the basic selling price (HPP) of electricity from the national grid, the government are requested to

make further improvement in import duty and taxation scheme of some important components of the unit.

 Potential market for biomass power generation (ZREU, 2000)

The proposal for community development was proposed by CREATA-LP-IPB, and was aimed to supply

energy for Small Agro-processing Unit to process various high value crops such as coffee, cocoa, cloves,

timber, food crops such rough rice, maize, fruits and vegetable as well as marine products. In this

proposal simple biomass stove is used as auxiliary heating unit to enable the unit to operate continuously

day and night and during bad weather conditions. Although the project was found very potential to

generate income for the rural people, however, this project has faced difficulties in accessing micro-

credits for working capital beside of the fact, the government has already creating source of funds to

create micro-credits collected from the state owned company, oil subsidy, etc.

In addition to what had been discussed above, serious R/D efforts on biomass energy utilization in fact

had been going on in Indonesia since long time ago. Ethanol production from cassava starch was started

in 1987 in Lampung with production capacity of 8,000 liters/day and 12,000 liters/day. Other attempts

using other source of biomass such as sago starch which also found in abundance in Indonesia, however,

including the ethanol factory, have been terminated due to inability to compete with the subsidized fuel


Recently, R/D activities for ethanol production is beginning to take place. The Research Center on

Materials and Energy of ITB, Bandung, estimated that the gasoline demand in 2005 would reach 9

million kilo liters. The Center study had estimated that in order to meet the demand, 136 units bio-ethanol

plant with 5,000 kilo liters/year will become necessary, which consequently will reduce the yearly

greenhouse gas emission by 3.35 million tons of CO2.

Indonesia is one of the world producer of palm oil together with Malaysia. In order to make use of this

potential resource as another fuel alternative, a group for bio-diesel experts has also been formed within

the task force team of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as mentioned previously. At present

the cost of production is still high and one alternative is to blend it with automotive diesel oil (ADO) or

industrial diesel oil (IDO). The merit of using bio-diesel is that \when burned the exhaust gas emiited

78% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than conventional diesel fuel. Bio-diesel also reduces small lung-burning

particulates endemic to diesel exhaust by 68%. It reduces sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 100%, polycyclic

aromatic hydrocarbons (potential cancer causing compounds) by 75%, carbon monoxide (CO) by 50%,

and hydrocarbons (HC) by 37% over various engine families

In response to the increasing need for oil substitute, particularly for the transportation sector which

consumes the biggest amount of energy in the country, recently the government of Indonesia had the

Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to build a mini bio-diesel plant with bio-

diesel production capacity of 1000 tons/year. The detailed engineering design is underway and will be

ready by May 2002. Total investment for the proposed plant is estimated to cost about 200,000 USD.

(Budiono, 2002).

Other potential source of biomass energy can also come from organic municipal wastes. The quantity of

city or municipal wastes in Indonesia as shown in Table 6 is comparable with other big cities of the

world. A study by the Ministry of Public works (1999) indicated that the quantity of daily wastes

produced by each inhabitants of Indonesian metropolitan cities varied between 0.458 in Semarang with

total population of 1..262 million people to 3.5 kg wastes /( for Jakarta with total

population of about 8.9 million. As shown in Fig.3 and 4 and Table 6 most of these wastes are originated

from household in the form of organic wastes from the kitchen. Similar trend is also happened in small,

medium size and big cities of Indonesia (Fig.3). As shown in Fig.5, the amount of daily wastes production

is increasing each year, while the capacity of handling is almost unchanged resulting in increasing

accumulation of wastes remaining in the household sector. If the problem can be solved immediately, the

living environment in the cities may become unbearable.

At present the wastes are either burned at each household or collected by the municipalities and later to be

dumped into a designated dumping ground or landfill. Although the government is providing facilities to

collect and clean all these wastes, however, due to the increasing number of populations coupled with

inadequate number of waste treatment facilities in addition to inadequate amount of allocated budget for

waste management, most of big cities in Indonesia had been suffering from the increasing problem of

waste disposals.

Some efforts had been tried to transform organic wastes into composts, which later can be used as

fertilizer. Putting the wastes into the incinerators may cause pollution since some of the composition may

emit toxins during the combustion processes. With better design, preparation and management of the final

dumping ground, landfill gas can be produced and used effectively as alternative energy sources.


Fig.5 shows a result of how different primary energy sources are being utilized to meet the demand from

different end uses (DGEEU, 1981). It shows also possible cross substitution among energy sources as

well as the respective efficiencies through different pathways and conversion devices. Such picture of

energy utilization will change according to the change in economic growth of a country. Therefore, by

issuing such picture on regular basis, one can determine the optimum strategy to determine the best

energy mix for the country, particularly in increasing the role of renewable energy such as the biomass



1. Indonesia’s potential biomass is estimated to reach 46.7 million tons of biomass per year,

equivalent to about 470 GJ/y.

2. Biomass use covers a wide area from household cooking, rural electrification, fertilizer

(municipal wastes, composting, etc.), process heat in small industries in the rural area and fuel for

cogen facilities in oil palm and sugar plantation.

3. New government policy and regulation on “green energy insight” and being implemented in the

form of distributed power generation program may provide a greater opportunity for biomass

energy to play role in helping the utility to provide power for the country.


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About Pontianak Biomass

we make a renewable energy in West Borneo.

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