The Possibility of Indonesia Become The Largest Biofuel Producer in The World
Along with the development of economic growth, energy has become part of basic needs and is even considered as “the oxygen of the economy”. So far, the global community, including Indonesia, has used fossil resources as an energy source. However, the fluctuating price of fossil oil and increasing global awareness of the environment (especially carbon emissions) have led to the growing trend of shifting from non-renewable energy to renewable and sustainable energy sourced from biofuels.
The trend of switching to biofuels also occurs in Indonesia through the development of biodiesel and bioethanol by utilizing local flora resources. For the biodiesel program, after failing with the development of Jatropha biodiesel in 2007, the Government of Indonesia has succeeded in developing palm biodiesel through its mandatory program. Even today, Indonesia has become largest biodiesel producer in the world.
In addition to reducing the use of fossil fuels, especially diesel, and reducing carbon emissions, the development of palm oil biodiesel in Indonesia has also contributed to saving foreign exchange imports of up to IDR 120 trillion in the last four years and maintaining the stability of CPO’s prices in the global market. The implementation of B30 in 2020 also has an impact on the positive trend in global CPO prices, even Dorab Mistry (Director of Godrej International) mentions Indonesia with B30 program as a game-changer for the CPO’s global market.
With the achievements made by palm biodiesel, a question arises: can Indonesia become the largest biofuel producer in the world?
Dr. Tatang H. Soerawidjaja in the Palm O’Corner Webinar organized by PASPI and HIMATEK ITB answered that question. In his presentation, he stated that the similarity of fatty acid composition in palm oil with hydrocarbons (fossil fuel) is a manifestation of the success of the biodiesel program and the development of green fuels (palm diesel, palm gasoline, and palm avtur) which are currently being developed in Indonesia to improve energy security.
However, if Indonesia wants to become the largest biofuel producer in the world, it is not enough to rely solely on the use of palm oil. Palm-based biofuels (especially the first generation such as biodiesel and green fuel) are only the initial capital due to various limitations such as the increasing imports of petroleum and fuel, the limited production of palm oil and there are many other needs for palm oil-based products and export to earn foreign exchange. Therefore, it is necessary to re-invigorate innovation to utilize plants/other vegetable biomass containing oils-fats and lignocellulose as vegetable resources that store great energy potential.
The lecturer of Chemical Engineering at the Bandung Institute of Technology, who is also the General Chair of the Indonesian Association of Bioenergy Experts (Ikatan Ahli Bioenergi Indonesia/IKABI), also said that Indonesia has a wealth of other agroforestry plants which are a source of fatty acids for biofuels besides palm oil, such as coconut, moringa, nyamplung, pongam, nutmeg, tengkawang, red taban, and saga utan.
In addition, biofuel innovations can also be developed from lignocellulosic which is another vegetable resource with the most abundant availability and is not utilized for food (non-food) needs. Examples of lignocellulosic resources that can be used as biofuels are empty fruit bunches, straw, sugarcane bagasse, corn cobs and stalks, sago bark, wood, and others. Lignocellulosic fractionation technology not only produces biofuels (bio hydrocarbons, bioethanol, and LPG) but also produces other products with high economic value such as Bio-BTX as well as Ksilitol and Furfural.
The utilization of local resources (contains both of oil-fat and lignocellulosic) in each region into biofuel products is expected to be able to reduce fuel supply and distribution costs so that it can be more affordable both in terms of price and availability by all people in Indonesia, Another benefit of developing local resources-based biofuel is being able to reduce imports of oil and fuel, and become a driver of local economic growth. To achieve that, processing using a mini oil refinery (maximum 20 thousand barrels/day) spread across regions is more suitable because it is closer to consumers and more adaptive to local resources as feedstock (raw materials).
At the end of his presentation, Dr. Tatang, who was one of the recipients of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board award as a form of appreciation for his dedication in developing biodiesel, gave a closing statement to stakeholders such as the government and industry to reduce dependence on palm oil as the feedstock for biofuel production because it shows indicators of the unsustainability of biofuels in Indonesia. Therefore, we must encourage education and training so it may increase the instinct to innovate to create and develop biofuels based on local Indonesian resources to achieve independence and national energy sovereignty.
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