The Palm Scribe

Communities around palm oil plantations should get free biogas-fueled electricity: government

TUNGKUL ULU – Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan is calling on Biogas-Fueled Power Plants to provide communities around the plantation where their raw material came from, with free electricity.

Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Biogas in Jambi. (Photo: Energy and Mineral Resources Minister) Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Biogas in Jambi. (Photo: Energy and Mineral Resources Minister)

Speaking while inaugurating a Biogas-Fueled Power Plant of palm oil plantation firm Asian Agri in Tungkal Ulu, in the Tanjungjabung Barat district of Jambi on Wednesday (24/01/2018). Jonan said that the free electricity should come from the supply left over after the energy needs of the  plantation company are met.

“Let us just say that if half the capacity of the Biogas-fueled power plant is used by the mill, there will be more than 1 MegaWatt that can be directly donated to the community,” Jonan said as quoted by the Bisnis Indonesia daily.

Jonan said that if such a pattern was applied, free electricity could be enjoyed by the community around the plantation company as long as the mill continued to operate. That would encourage closer and better relations with the local community.

According to him, selling the excess electricity supply to the state utility company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN)  will also not bring to high a revenue, only about Rp 9 billion per year for one MegaWatt.

As long as there are yet no local PLN power supply network, private companies are allowed to directly sell their electricity to the people, as long as they build their own network infrastructure. If local PLN network exists, this arrangement would not be permitted.

“In this case, it is still free. Not sold. Discussions with PLN would take too long. For this, simply submit a request, and I would issue a permit by one week at the latest,” Jonan said.

Bukit Sanjaya, Head of Operation Asian Agri, said that the management of the company will follow up the proposal. “It is true that there is a PLN network at the location so this proposal of his will be considered by the mangement,” he said.

The Biogas-fueled power plant is the seventh of 20 such plants that are planned to be built by 2020.

Each of the plant would have a capacity of 2.2 MegaWatt, with about 700 KiloWatt used for the operations of the palm oil mill. The remaining excess power of 1.5 MegaWatt can be used to meet the electricity need of the people around the Asian Agri mill. The selling price of the electricity, determined by PLN, is at Rp 941 per KiloWattHour.

The investment for the power plant reaches some $6 million or about Rp 80 billion. “The highest investment is for biogas installation. A Biogas-fueled power plant is composed of installation and machinery,” Head of Mill Asian Agri, James Sembiring, said.

“The investment amount also includes a synchronization with the local PLN network, with transaction distances of about two kilometers,” he added.

Jonan said that the operation of the power plant represented a concrete support of the private sector to the government’s commitment to use renewable energy and reach an energy mix of 23 percent by 2025.

The construction of power plants making use of palm oil waste as a source of fuel in Indonesia started about a decade ago. A mlll with a production capacity of processing 30 to 45 tons of fresh oil palm fruit bunch per hour could usually allow a production of about one MegaWatt of electricity by a biogas-fueled power plant.

There are more than 600,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in Jambi province. The province also has more than 40 palm oil mills and therefore  has the potential to produce around 132 MegaWatts of electricity, an amount that would be able to  meet half of the entire electricity need of the province.

The bioenergy potential of palm oil waste is mostly found in Sumatra  (8,812 MegaWatts) and in Kalimantan (3,384 MegaWatts). The total potential of bioenergy that could be used for power generation reaches 32.654 MegaWatts, with palm oil account for about 12,654 MegaWatts.

Some 13.6 MegaWatts of  electricity generated by biogas-fueled power plant that has been integrated into the PLN grid, comes from power plants using palm oil waste and 138.8 MegaWatts from palm waste. The total electricity produced by the two kinds of power plant  account for 83 percent of the total existing capacity.

The current installed capacity of biogas-fueled power plants stood at 1,838.3 MegaWatts, 1,654.9 MegaWatts of which of-grid.

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