B100 Would Not be A Dream

palm oil magazine
Memet Hakim, Senior Agronomist, Consultan, and Extraordinary Lecturer at Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Padjadjaran

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – President Prabowo Subianto has set an ambitious target to implement the palm oil biodiesel program (B100) as an environmental fuel, despite existing controversies. This initiative aims to bolster the Ministry of Agriculture’s flagship program, previously halted, yet promising significant economic and environmental impacts.

It is also positioned as Indonesia’s strategic response on the international trade stage, particularly in countering the European Union (EU). The B100 program is expected to substantially increase revenue, benefit smallholders, and boost company incomes.

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However, the realization of B100 faces significant challenges in its primary feedstock, palm cooking oil. Current production stands at 50 million tons in 2024, far below the required 92 million tons per year. Achieving this target necessitates an additional 43 million tons through increased productivity per hectare and expanded planting initiatives.

Also Read: B100 Program: The Special Missile for EU

Palm oil plantations in Indonesia laid on about 16.833.985 hectares in 2023. It is predicted to be more than 17 million hectares in 2024. The numbers could be potentially increasing by implementing some strategies, such as, replanting program with superior seeds, taking advantages on land banks that have not been fully utilized. The programs should also be followed by producing superior seeds consistently in 2027. The production should be potentially escalated up to 30 – 40 tons fresh fruit bunch (FFB) per hectare per year or equal to 7.5 – 12 tons crude palm oil (CPO) per hectare per year.

The new technology in agronomy sectors, for instance, root and canopy management would be promising to escalate plantation productivity up to 30 – 80%. This could be the key to get closer to get maximal production even though it is still far from the hope. The infrastructure supports, such as, transportation and ways would be crucial to support the increasing production nationally.

Indonesia has the mainstay in agronomy and biochemical engineering technology that could change palm oil to be biodiesel and biofuel efficiently. The mainstay would reinforce not only the country’s sovereignty but also be the strong diplomacy tool to face international scale – trade barriers.

Even though there are some challenges, such as, in economy, politics, and other technical issues, B100 would potentially be implemented to change energy landscape in Indonesia significantly. It would need collaboration from many sectors, technology innovations, and the government’s commitment to realize the vision to be real. Multiparty supports, such as, from the private sectors and financial institutions would be the successful keys to implement the program to escalate palm oil production and get environmental fuel sustainably.

Taking advantages on biofuel, particularly B100, as the alternative fuel from fossil diesel has been the main issue in this country. Even though the government conducted tests since 2019, the program implementation significantly faced challenges.

Arifin Tasrif, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources said that it would be impossible to succeed B100. One main issue in the program is the low plantation productivity nationally. He thought, to realize the ambition, it should significantly escalate palm oil plantation productivity, as same as the material availability and dynamic market demands. (Kompas.com, 16 May 2024).

The pessimistic consideration was also spoken by Chairman of Asosiasi Petani Kelapa Sawit Indonesia (Apkasindo), Gulat Manurung. He concerned that palm oil production would be deficit from the program. Manurung said that by implementing B50 program, Indonesia would be getting CPO deficit up to 1,2 million tons. This would threaten the revenue from the exports. (Detik.com, 27 May 2024).

But Ministry of Agriculture had gone forward by testing B100 since a few years ago. Minister of Agriculture at the period, Amran Sulaiman insisted that biofuel would be the future for being more environmental and efficient than conventional fuel. In the early test, it was known that B100 utilization escalated vehicle efficiency up to 13,1 kilometers per liter, more than diesel that reached 9,6 kilometers per liter (Katadata.co.id, 15 April 2019).

The quality of biodiesel from vegetable oils, in this case, CPO proved to be better than it in fossil diesel. It escalated the machine performance. This kind of fuel would support energy diversification nationally, reduce dependence on fossil fuel import which is expensive and not environmental.

Plantation sectors, including the smallholders, biodiesel industries, should see the program as the big chance. By escalating plantation productivity up to 60 – 65%, the profit potential for them could increase up to 100%. Besides, B100 program implementation should save the exchange up to trillions of rupiah per year. This would be from fossil fuel imports and biofuel exports. (Detik.com, 27 May 2024).

To realize the ambition, it would need good cooperation among the governments, the stakeholders, and smallholders. It would need the strong commitment from every party to escalate CPO production significantly and adjust every infrastructure and supporting regulation.

Even though the challenges are ahead, the vision to adopt biofuel as part of national energy strategies would be the right thing heading to the cleaner and more sustainable future in Indonesia. With the right supports, B100 and other biofuel programs would be the main encourage for the economic and environment progress in this country.

By: Memet Hakim/ Senior Agronomist, Consultan, and Extraordinary Lecturer at Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Padjadjaran

Disclaimer: This article is personal opinion of the writer himself

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