Biomass Energy Potentials And Utilization In Indonesia
By: KAMARUDDIN ABDULLAH
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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.
2. RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT 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.
3. BIOMASS ENERGY POTENTIAL IN INDONESIA
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.
4. BIOMASS ENERGY CONVERSION AND UTILIZATION
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.
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 /(inhabitant.day) 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
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.
5. SUPPLY-DEMAND ANALYSIS
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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