Palm Oil Wastes Used To Generate Bio-electricity

JAKARTA — The oil palm plantations have not only produced the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) which are used to produce the crude palm oil (CPO). All of its wastes, from its liquid waste to biomass wastes, are also usable for power generation.

Many oil palm plantation companies in North Sumatera, Riau, South Sumatera, Jambi, and provinces of Kalimantan, have utilized their wastes to generate the green power that they need in the operations of their plantations, palm oil mills, or to support the government’s electricity policy to increase the electrification rate in their surrounding areas, which are mostly remote areas and far away from the power grid. Their power generation is based on the use of biogas produced from the liquid waste or biomass wastes, such as empty bunches or palm shells.

PASPI Monitor, an independent palm oil research institution, said in its research report recently that a palm oil mill with a processing capacity of FFB at 120 tons per hour can produce around 2.0 Megawatt (MW) of bioelectricity. “Actually every 15,000 hectares of oil palm plantations produces wastes that can generate 2.0 MW bio-electricity,” PASPI concludes in the report.

That means, with a total acreage of oil palm plantations at 16.38 million hectares across Indonesia, the oil palm plantations are potential to contribute to the national power generation, which has been steadily growing every year.

The use of palm oil wastes for bio-electricity generation can clean environment, reduce carbon emissions, strengthen energy resilience through renewable energy sources, reduce the use of fossil fuels that is detrimental to the environment, and help improve the local economies around the oil palm plantations.

“The use of palm oil wastes to generate power has been proven as a good example to generate the bio-electricity, which is sustainable economically, socially, and ecologically. Therefore, the government should facilitate, support and protect the national palm oil industry,” PASPI Monitor said in the report.

The potential bioelectricity generation from the palm oil wastes has further proven the wide versatility of palm oil. Indonesia is very fortunate as the largest producer of palm oil in the world, with a total oil palm plantation acreage of 16.38 million hectares. Having the highest versatility, productivity and efficiency among other vegetable oils in the world, the palm oil has been widely used as raw materials to feed food and non-food industries, from pharmacy to cosmetics and to energy industries across the globe.

Besides, the oil palm plantations themselves also serve as the “lung of the earth” as the oil palm trees also function like other trees in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by cars, industries, humans, and then process it into oxygen which is needed by human beings. (*)

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