Indonesia Pushes Electric Vehicle Development, How Palm Oil Biofuel Fate in The Future?
The development of electric cars is not something new in the world. Many world innovators from Karl Benz (1885), Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford (1914) to Elon Musk with his Tesla were able to make electric cars a global trend and succed in changing global consumer preferences.
Along with the increase of environmental awareness in global community, using electric cars is one of the ways to reduce carbon emissions. The electric cars/vehicles has been successfully developed by several countries such as the United States, Japan, European Union, China, Canada, and Norway. Even some neighboring countries of Indonesia such as Malaysia and Thailand have also developed electric cars.
The booming of electric car development has also hit Indonesia. Through Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 55/2019 concerning the Acceleration of the Development of Electric Vehicles (Battery Electric Vehicles) for Road Transportation, was showed comitment of Indonesian government to develop this sector. To implement this Presidential Regulation, the government is trying to collaborate with some companies such as Tesla, Toyota, and Hyundai to build an electric car factory in Indonesia. In addition, the government also encouraging the downstreaming of nickel mining as raw material for lithium batteries, as shown by the collaboration between state-owned mining companies such as Antam and Inalum with LG Energy Solution to build an electric car battery factory.
The Indonesian government has also begun to promoting the use of electric cars, as has been done by Budi Karya (Minister of Transportation) and Erick Thohir (Minister of State-owned Enterprpise). Reported on detikoto, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Arifin Tasrif, also said that electric vehicles will be widely used by ministries/instutional, local governments, and state-owned enterprise. It is estimated that by 2025, the potential use of electric vehicles in ministerial/institutional institutions will reach 951 units of electric motorbikes, 1,050 units of electric cars, and 86 units of electric buses. Meanwhile, local governments will use 67,229 electric motorbikes, 9,239 units of electric cars, and 1,178 electric buses. State-owned companies will also absorb around 16,259 units of electric motorbikes, 1,011 electric cars, and 5,213 electric buses.
Although the Indonesian government has shown a strong commitment to the development of electric vehicles, however it’s expected to face obstacles. General Chairman of Gaikindo, Johannes Nangoi, said one of the obstacles is the distance traveled by vehicles in Indonesia is relatively far due to the broad area, while electric vehicles have a limited distance of around 300-350 km, so that they require an electric charging station even though their availability is still limited.
Another obstacle is related to the cost production of electric car is quite expensive reached average of around USD 28 thousand per unit, while the cost of producing conventional car at the level of around USD 15 thousand per unit. This means that the production cost of an electric car is almost double than conventional car.
Through the development of electric vehicles in Indonesia, the government hopes can increasing the share of renewable energy use in the energy mix which is targeted to reach 23 percent by 2025, while also creating pollution-free and emission-free vehicles that contribute to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in accordance with the mandate of Paris Agreement.
However, the government’s expectations are considered contradictory with the development of electric vehicles. Because the use of electric vehicles will increase the electricity demand, while the majority around 85.3 percent of Indonesia’s electricity needs come from fossil energy (coal, natural gas, or diesel) which is non-renewable energy and the main source of carbon emissions.
This shows that the development of electric vehicles in Indonesia will only move pollution/emissions from the roads to power plants that use fossil energy. Although the use of electric vehicles does not produce emissions on the road, electric cars are not completely clean or emission-free if the source of electricity supply is still coal or diesel. With current conditions and seen from a more comprehensive point of view, it shows that electric vehicles in Indonesia will also pollute the environment.
If the Indonesia government’s concern is to achieve 2025’s target regarding the energy mix of renewable energy and low emissions, as well as to reduce dependence on fossil fuels so that it can achieve national energy security, the government should not to follow other countries to developing electric vehicles in Indonesia. Instead, the government should continue to focus on developing alternative sources of renewable energy based on abundant local resources, such as palm oil-based biofuel.
The potential of energy contained in palm oil is not only limited in the use into biodiesel and green fuel (green diesel, green gasoline, and green avtur) or what is known as the first generation of biofuels. The processing of biomass produced by oil palm plantations can also be used as a second-generation of biofuel which is considered more sustainable and can minimize fuel-food trade-offs, such as empty bunches, palm fronds, fiber, and stems for bioethanol and palm shells for charcoal briquettes, bio-coal/bio-pellets, and fuel for Biomass Power Electric Plant.
Liquid waste from palm oil processing, namely Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME), can also be used as an alternative source of energy in the form of biogas/bio-electricity, and biodiesel algae. In addition, used cooking oil, which can also be considered as a waste of palm oil products, also stores a potential of energy that can be used as feedstock for biodiesel and substitutes for fossil diesel in Steam Power Electric Plant.
Even if the Indonesian government have a strong comitment to develop electric vehicles in Indonesia, palm oil is able to come up as a solution to supply the growing demand for electricity. Power plants can use palm oil biofuels such as green diesel, bio coal, biomass energy, and used cooking oil. Not only that, the electricity demand also be fulfilled from plantations and palm oil mill with POME which can directly supply electricity at charging station for electric vehicle batteries.
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