The Palm Scribe

PLN Tests B100 Biodiesel for Power Plants

Sustainable palm oil plantation in Indonesia

The National Electricity Company (PLN) is currently conducting trial tests, fueling several Diesel power plants with pure crude palm oil (CPO), also known as B100.

Director of Public Relations for PLN, I Made Suprateka, told The Palm Scribe that they were still collecting significant data from the results of the trials, but explained that the chosen locations waere close to oil palm plantations.

Suprateka did not identify the power plants but a number of press reports have identified them as a 10 MegaWatt –power plant in Bontang, a 40 MegaWatt plant in Balikpapan, a 62 MegaWatt plant in Pare-Pare and a 10 MegaWatt plant in Jayapura. The four plants are reported to require around 190,000 kilo liters of diesel, which if converted to B100 can reduce the use of the same amount of diesel oil and thus reduce the burden of fuel imports.

During the second round of the presidential election debate on Sunday, February 17, 2019, President Joko Widodo had stated that Indonesia is moving towards B100 to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and their imports.

In the response to a statement by his opponent, Prabowo Subianto, who said that Indonesia must be able to follow the example of Brazil which had begun producing B90. Jokowi said that after successfully introducing the B20 bioldiesel, the country was now starting to produce and use B100.

Indonesia is following in the footsteps of “Fri-El Acerra”, a CPO-powered power plant located in Naples, Italy. The plant, which was visited by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan last November, has been operating since 2008 and has a capacity of 74.8 megawatts. The CPO used in Fri-El Acerra in Naples is imported from Indonesia.

Energy observer Kurtubi told The Palm Scribe that the B100 project is worth trying, although technically it should habe been first consulted with chemists and refiners so that there will be no problems in the future.

“This is a very good innovation, so that Indonesia does not depend on fossil-based fuels and switch to renewable energy,” he said.

Deputy chairman of the Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association (APROBI) Berned Riedo said looking at Italy’s success story, it should not be a problem for Indonesia.

“I think it’s a matter of will. If all stakeholders can sit together and formulate a roadmap and policies, B100 should have no problems,” he told The Palm Scribe.

Riedo further explained that in terms of business, then government must be able to guaranty a steady supply  of the CPO so that B100 program for diesel oil substitution can run smoothly.

“What if we compare the prices of CPO vs diesel? If diesel is cheaper, will PLN still use a more expensive B100? This means that there must be subsidies. There should be a guarantee as well on CPO availability for the power plant for a certain number of years, although I think this shouldn’t be a problem considering that Indonesia it the biggest producer. There are good and bad points of using B100, and this is where I think a clear role for the various ministries is needed, “he said.

Meanwhile Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Rini Soemarno, speaking at a separate occasion, said that her ministry was targeting the use of B100 only in three years’ time. According to her, the state oil and gas company PT Pertamina, was planning to first to raise the CPO content of the biodiel from the current B20 to B50.

“Three years is possible, but it may not be able to fully replace diesel. I think it takes times, so if we can’t fully replace all diesel fuel, maybe B50 first, not B100,” she said.

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