The use and availability of biomass in Indonesia is spread out of the country, from the cities to very remote areas. Most of biomass consumed in the economic activities is practiced in the conventional or traditional ways, primarily as fuel. Recently, the national government has launched a national policy to increase the share of renewable energy including biomass in the electricity sector. National electric company, known as PLN, is obligated to buy certain amount of electricity generated from renewable energy resources. This new support from the government is believed can boost the utilization of biomass to support the sustainable development.


Biomass is an important source of energy and its use is continuously increasing. The main applications are in the domestic sector and in small-scale industries, but also to a growing extent in large industrial and combined heat and power generating systems. Biomass is clean renewable source, carbon neutral and indigenous resource, which is not subject to world price fluctuations or the supply uncertainties of imported fuels.

Biomass energy, including fuel wood, accounted for about 43% of the national total primarily supply in 1997. In fact, it is the biggest. Biomass is used not only in rural areas but in some economic activities in the cities, it is still being practiced. However, in the electricity production or in other forms of commercial energy, biomass energy is the least used. Since biomass has important role in the economic activities, a sustained development program is necessary. Recently, the government has issued a policy on renewable energy and energy conservation (Green Energy Policy). It gives a guideline for stakeholders in developing biomass energy.

Biomass potential

The potential of biomass derived from wood and crop residues is shown in the table below. The potential sources of fuelwood are rubber wood or palm tree wood from plantations that are cleared or renewed, as well as logging residues, cuttings, trimmings and sawdust from wood processing and plywood industries. The major crop residues to be considered for power generation in Indonesia are palm oil residues, which are generated throughout the year, and sugar processing residues as well as rice processing residues.

Total area of forest in Indonesia is the third largest after those in Brazil and Zaire . Eventhough it produces a huge amount of forest residue, only residues from logging and saw mills is potentially available for energy generation. Residues from plywood and pulp/paper industries are currently recycled and utilized for derivative products or as supplementing energy sources. It is estimated that in 2003, total residues from logging industries are amounted to 15 million m 3 and in general, it is not utilized. While residues from saw mills were about 15.45 million m 3 .

It is estimated that Indonesia produces 146.7 million tons of biomass per year, equivalent to about 470 GJ/y. As shown in Table 3, 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.

Indonesia also has a lot of plantation such as rubber, palm oil, coconut and sugarcane. Those produce abundant amount of biomass and the number is increasing gradually every year particularly for palm oil.

Other resources of biomass that have a big potential as feedstock for generating electricity are agricultural wastes and municipal city garbage.

Biomass Technology in Indonesia

The use of biomass energy is of long standing and is probably the oldest form of energy whose role is large, especially in rural areas. It is estimated that 35% of total national energy consumption in fact originates from biomass. Through direct burning and other conversion technology such as pyrolisis and gasification, biomass may be converted into heat, mechanical or electrical energy. The energy produced has been used for a variety of purposes, among others for household (cooking and home industry), prime mover for rice milling, for drying of agriculture products and wood industry, power generation in wood and sugar industry.


Biomass cogeneration mostly installed in industries based biomass i.e. palm oil, wood and sugar industries.Existing co-generation plants are the 5.5 MW waste wood power plant at PT. Siak Raya Timber in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, the 35 t/h at 35 bar installed at PT. Kurnia Musi Plywood Industry in Palembang. Most palm oil mills generate combined heat and power from fibres and shells, making the operations energy self –efficient. However, the use of palm oil residues can still be optimized in more energy efficient systems. Sugar mills that have their own steam generation facilities are generally equipped with old, low-pressure systems. Upgrading to highly efficient, high pressure systems with higher capacities can be, commercially speaking, an interesting option. It is estimated that palm oil and sugar production will be the sector where the demand for biomass energy technology will increase considerably in the future. The palm oil industry is one of the agro-based industries in Indonesia attracted by many domestic as well as investors.


Small scale biomass gasification with the capacity around 15-176 kW for the time being as demonstration projects, not fully commercially available. Technical improvements are especially required in fuel feeding, gas cleaning, ash removal and overall automatic control systems. A recent development in this technology was a demonstration plant of rice husk gasification coupled with generator set to produce 100 kW electricity. The project is based at Haur Geulis-Indramayu, West Java , the area which primary cover by rice. EPC of gasification unit was carried out by a national company.


Bearing in mind that livestock population continually increases and the nation’s population are large, the potential of biogas is quite substantial. However, only a very small portion of this potential has been used, and even this has been limited to cooking and lighting. The use of biogas from human wastes still at the stage of demonstration projects. In addition to producing clean energy in the form of gas, biogas from human waste could also overcome pollution of wells in dense human settlements, that are in large cities.


Since the creation of Indonesian Biodiesel Forum (IBF), biodiesel development in Indonesia is attracting many keyplayers. In fact, there is a lot of potentially developed oil plantation. The IBF has identified that more than 50 species are available in which some of them are not planted and a kind of not edible oils. Indonesia currently is the second largest of palm oil industries in the world and soon to surface the Malaysian production, being the number one.

BPPT is pioneering biodiesel development through their first biodiesel demonstration plant in Serpong Laboratory. The plant is a batch-type allowing a capacity of 1,500 liter per day. Another plant is currently being built in a double capacity. BPPT also has commissioned a continuous type of biodiesel plant in Province of Riau with the capacity of 8 ton per day.


Research and development of bio-fuel technology especially for transportation have been implemented in Indonesia . The demonstration project and the assessment of economic viability will be done in near future.

Recently Bandung Institute of Technology with collaboration with Mitsubshi Research Institute and Kyushu Electric Company, Japan has launched the use of 100% of Jatropha oil to substitute petroleum diesel fuel in diesel engines. The project was facilitated by NEDO through international project collaboration. Currently, ITB is carrying out a long-term trial to test the engine fueled by Jatropha oil.

Efficient stoves

Efficient stove has been developed with modification of local/traditional stoves. Training and socialization to small industries particularly craft industries done by government and NGOs.

Policy development and biomass action programmes

In an effort to realize a sustainable energy supply through the development of renewable energy, a sustained and directed program should be carried out consisting a short-term program that will be completed within up to five years, and long-term programs, i.e. the programs that will be completed within five years. Biomass energy policy is part of a national renewable energy policy known as Green Energy Policy.

The short-term programs are divided into investment, incentive, energy price, standardization and certification, human resources, information, research and development, institution and regulation. Government will promote public-private partnership program for biomass energy, develop a micro financing system and give the support to financial institutions interested in biomass projects. Implementations of biomass energy project are in line with CDM. In addition, government will be continuing supports on fiscal incentives such as VAT, import duty, luxury goods VAT, establishing a realistic royalty for renewable energy to support its development and providing interest-free loan for engineering cost in the renewable energy project development.

The long term program includes a continuation of the short-term program, and the programs that are not implementable within a five-year period including mandatory to utilize renewable energy including biomass (non fossil fuel obligation). Establishment of funding institution in order to finance renewable energy programs is believed is one of the long-term programmes.

In addition, to meet the demand for small-scale energy, particularly in rural areas that are remote and not easily accessible by conventional energy means, locally available energy utilization needs to be promoted to enhance equitable distribution of development. The development of renewable energy as local energy has to be integrated to the regional development, it is developed particularly for income generating and finally can increase social and economic welfare.

The price of oil is still subsidized, it cause the distortion of energy price system. The subsidy will be reduced gradually, and it is expected that the price of renewable energy can be competitive. To encourage Small Power Producers to develop renewable energy, government has issued the decree on Small Power Purchase Tariff. This decree regulates the selling of privately produced electricity to the State Electricity Company.

Awareness raising programs

Information dissemination by publication of brochures/leaflet, directory of renewable energy projects and directory of companies involve in renewable energy development. Conduct training, seminars, workshops to exchange of information, and information dissemination; demonstration projects with involving the people in the planning, implementation and evaluation of renewable energy projects, and preparing guideline of renewable energy project preparation.


There are some barriers in developing biomass development, among others:

  • Oil subsidy
  • High investment cost
  • Lack of financial institutions (Bank) interested in biomass development
  • Lack of coordination among related institutions
  • The efficiency and reliability of existing technology is still low
  • Difficulties of community acceptance regarding biogas from animal dung, manure
  • Low capability of rural institution

Biomass Utilization

Biomass consumption is around 35% of national energy consumption Installed capacity of cogeneration is around 302 MW particularly in palm oil industries, sugarmills and sawmill industries. Around 70 units of gasification with the capacity between 10-200 kW have been installed for electrification and drying. Hundreds units of biogas from animal dung and human waste. Thousands units of efficient stoves have been made for cooking in household, small industries such as brick and tile, crafts, etc.

Many projects related to biomass utilization have been implemented and still continue in the future. Some of them are dissemination of efficient stove through training and demonstration project by regional office of Ministry of Energy and Mineral Rsources, and financed by national budget. Demonstration projects of gasification in some locations done by Indonesian Institute of Sciences, financed by international donor agency.

Gasification project done by Indonesia Power with the capacity around 18 kW, financed by the company. Feasibility study of biomass cogeneration in East Kalimantan with the capacity of 15-30 MW, financed by international donor agency

Stakeholders and keyplayers

Institutions involved in renewable energy including biomass among others government, research institutions, universities, association, and NGOs. Government such as Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Forestry; Institutions such as PTE-Technical Committee for Energy, BAKOREN-National Energy Coordinating Board.

Research Institution such as BPPT-Agency for the Assessment and Application, LIPI Indonesian, Institute of Science; Universities such as Institute of Technology Bandung, Bogor Agriculture University; Association such as Association of Sugar Millers, Association of Palm Oil Millers, Association of Plywood Industries; NGO’s such as IRES-Indonesian Renewable Energy Society; YBUL-Yayasan Bina Usaha Lingkungan and Yayasan IBK, Forum Biodiesel Indonesia.

NGO’s involvement in national energy policy and implementation regarding the promotion of the program on reducing subsidy of oil and electricity, developing renewable energy based on community development, propose to government concerning energy policy, promoting renewable energy by dissemination information to rural community (awareness), and assisting local/rural organization to improve their technical and management capability

There are only few manufactures involving in the biomass technology production, such as PT. Boma Bisma Indra, design and manufacture of gasifier systems using wood and rice husk, capacity between 15-176 kW PT IMSF, design and manufacture of gasifier systems. PT. Spektra Matrika Indah, biogas design and construction, using animal manure and human waste, capacity 30-50 m3 .

Opportunities and markets for commercialization of biomass energy

Some issues regarding the opportunity of biomass development for commercialization:

  • Cogeneration have been commercial
  • Most of high potential of biomass in palm oil, sugar and wood industries not yet utilized
  • Most of existing biomass cogeneration are old and low efficiency. It should be replaced by the new and efficient cogeneration equipment. Biomass cogeneration can meet electricity demand in industries base biomass, and the excess of electricity can be sold
  • Replacing diesel oil in industries based biomass
  • There are around 50 sugarmills and 100 palm oil mills available

Indonesia represents an attractive market for biomass technology mainly because of the following reason:

  • Low cost of biomass residue combined with high electricity demand
  • Geographically, it is difficult and expensive to develop centralized electricity systems
  • Fuel supply to remote areas is often not possible due to weather condition
  • Biomass residues create a waste disposal problem.

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