JAKARTA: Mr. Rudi pulled up next to a pump in a petrol station in Jakarta. He lifted a grey nozzle and filled up his truck with palm oil-based B20 biodiesel.
At 5,150 rupiah (US$0.37) a liter, the biodiesel is half the price of the regular diesel available at all petrol stations.
“B20 is more affordable. In my opinion, it is also more energy-efficient,” said Mr. Rudi, who like many Indonesians go by one name.
Biodiesel is not a new concept in Indonesia, with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) carrying tests since 2004.
B15 – a fuel blend of 15 percent palm fatty acid methyl ester and 85 percent of conventional diesel fuel – was made mandatory in 2015 for diesel-reliant industries.
A year later, B20, which has a bio-content of 20 percent, was produced to replace B15.
However, it was not until September 2018 that the government made it mandatory for the respective industries.
Those who prefer not to use biodiesel can still buy the more expensive diesel, such as Pertamina Dex produced by state-owned oil and gas corporation Pertamina or others produced by foreign companies.
Following tests, Indonesia decided to make B30 mandatory from January next year.
Mdm Andriah Feby Misna, director of bioenergy at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, told CNA that the ministry is now ready to distribute B30 to selected retailers.
“We are going to do a market trial from next week until the end of December in a few selected locations.
“The official implementation will then start on Jan 1, 2020,” she said.
The Indonesian government’s decision came amid slowing global demand for palm oil – the archipelago’s main export commodity – exacerbated by Europe’s anti-palm oil rhetoric.
Experts believe that producing more biofuel will save the palm industry, and at the same time, reduce imports of fuel.
However, the consumption of biofuel has also contributed to the opening of new palm plantations in Indonesia, an unintended effect.