Woody Biomass as Sources of Renewable Energy

Many remote areas in Indonesia have not been provided with electricity connection  from the State Electricity Company (PLN). Indonesia also has large areas of tropical forest, Indonesia’s rainforests are one of earth’s most biologically and culturally rich landscapes. The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia consists of almost 18,000 islands spanning between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Containing the largest expanse of rainforest in all of Asia, it is home to hundreds of distinct Indigenous languages and over 3,000 animal species including Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants, rhinoceros and orangutans. Sadly, Indonesia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, and just under half of the country’s original forest cover now remains.  Although estimates vary widely, conservative studies suggest more than a million hectares (2.4 million acres) of Indonesian rainforest is cleared and lost each year, with about 70% occurring in forests on mineral soils and 30% on carbon-rich peatland forests. Increasing emphasis on renewable energy sources has resulted in renewed attention to using forest and agricultural biomass for energy. Woody biomass is an abundant, widely distributed, low-cost, local source of renewable energy that is commonly used for residential-heating, commercial electricity, and industrial heat and power.

To utilize woody biomass for electricity, a group of researchers that include Ulfah J. Siregar and Iskandar Z. Siregar of the Faculty of Forestry of  Bogor Agricultural University (FAHUAN IPB), Asminah Rachmi of the State Polytechnic of Malang, Budi H. Narendra and Chairil A. Siregar of Forest Research and Development Center (Pulitbang Hutan) and Chris Weston from the University of Melbourne, Australia, implemented a joint research program  on fast-growing forest species as a producer of renewable energy biomass.

This study aims to evaluate the potential of biomass for its mainstreaming as a renewable energy source of electricity. The groups are exploring current and future woody biomass availability from multiple perspectives including estimation of available wood residues from harvest operations in native forests, options for plantation production of woody biomass, biomass resources in proximity to coal-fired electricity plants that have the capacity to co-fire with wood, the apparent effects of policies related to utilization of biomass for energy, factors affecting utilization of woody for residential heating, and long-term effects of intensive biomass on forest soil nutrients. The survey was conducted in three provinces, West Java, East Java and Lombok Island representing wet, medium and dry areas. Community forest plantations are calculated for biomass content that has the potential to be converted into electricity through the wood pellet formation process.

The results show that biomass-based energy has enormous potential to be developed in the area under study. So far most biomass is used as raw material for wood industry, and very rarely as bioenergy. Both energy wood and wet sawmill chips could hence decrease the production costs and thereby the price for pellets. Even though there is a much greater maximum pellet production potential for wet sawmill chips than for sawdust the amounts of available raw material will, among other factors, depend on the development in the pulp industry..

Most industries use wood waste because of low price, then mix softwood with hardwood to produce the desired quality wood pellets. Most of the products are exported abroad rather than domestically. Development of biomass-based power plants in Indonesia will require considerable policy support to make it happen. (Wied)

Published Date : 12-Oct-2017

Resource Person : Ulfah J. Siregar dan Iskandar Z. Siregar

Keyword : Woody Biomass as Sources of Renewable Energy