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Indonesia: Indonesia and Japan teaming up to promote biomass energy projects

Published at: Mar 7, 2009
source: Jakarta Post
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Japan and Indonesia are joining forces to encourage the use of biomass energy and lessen their dependency on oil, which is becoming limited and expensive.

Japan and Indonesia are joining forces to encourage the use of biomass energy and lessen their dependency on oil, which is becoming limited and expensive.

Japan, a world-leader in alternative energy research, believes Indonesian plants have the potential to be important sources of biomass energy.

""Japan is facing obstacles in developing this energy due to the high cost of basic commodities in that country,"" Haruhiko Ando, a director of Japan's Global Energy and Fuel Cell Policy, said during a seminar here Monday. ""The Indonesian climate and soil are very suited to producing (biomass) products.""

Ando hoped the cooperation would lead to the establishment of a biomass industry throughout Asia, which could produce biomaterials and create new industries and markets for the energy.

A project in the seminar which attracted the greatest interest was the development of biodiesel fuel using jarak (Jatropha curcas L) oil plants, which are common in Indonesia.

Biodiesel is produced from renewable resources, such as soybean and other oil crops, and contains almost no sulfur; only 15 parts per million (ppm) are found in the emissions of vehicles using this fuel. The lowest levels of sulfur content in Indonesian fossil fuels average about 500 ppm while more dirty fuels can produce up to 3,000 ppm.

Indonesian delegates responded positively to the proposal, saying the project was more promising than the energy alternatives of nuclear, wind, gas, and coal power.

""We have thousands of hectares of land that can be used to develop this green energy,"" Didik J. Rachbini, of the House of Representatives' Commission VI on energy, said.

A total of 23.2 million hectares area could be used for the project, including land in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Java, he said.

State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said the bilateral cooperation would give local people the opportunity to participate in important energy projects.

A representative from state sugar factory Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia said it planned to develop jarak oil plantations to power its operations.

The company has a history of growing plants to produce biodiesel fuels, including cassava and oil palms.

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