Sustainability |

Bio-Fuels: The Next Step In Sustainable Transport?


Indonesia has an ambitious biofuel program, which promotes the use of  crude palm oil, in increasingly higher mixes (CPO) with conventional diesel to reduce the non-renewable element and increasing the renewable. The proportion is currently 30 percent CPO to 70 percent diesel and it has been touted to become one of the key contributors for Indonesia’s action plan for meeting its carbon-emissions-reduction target, promised at COP26. Of course it has an additional benefit as well in reducing Indonesia’s reliance on expensive oil imports.

During a recent Group of 20 webinar, an official from Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry (ESDM) stated that “biofuels are vital for the development of a green economy to achieve a just, equitable and people-centered energy transition”. According to ESDM Indonesia produced 16.3 million kiloliters (kl) of B30-biodiesel in 2021, a significant increase from 13.3 million kl in 2020, giving the government the confidence to scale up the biofuel program and funding. The development of a pilot green-refinery program is underway in Cilacap, Central Java, with the first phase of the project aiming to produce Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) or Green Diesel, a second-generation biodiesel product from Refined, Bleached and Deodorized Palm Oil (RBDPO).

However the  most positive direction to take is the processing of used cooking oil into bio-fuel as this make use of a readily available and massively under-recycled  product. Every hotel, restaurant, café and warung has used cooking oil which is usually just dumped , wasting a valuable resource and polluting what ever it comes in contact with at the same time! This can be organised on a city level through the hotel and restaurant associations , and at the residential level through the RT/RW network.

The use of CPO, while better than the use of refined petroleum based oil, still has the stigma of the origins of the plantations which all replaced primary forests over the last 50 years, and therefore cannot claim 100pct sustainability. However using grown and replaceable resources is better than the non-renewable route. The best of all is trying to do at least a semi- circular economy approach with the repurposing of the used cooking oil. Let us hope there will be a full scale refinery for this in the near future as well.