JAKARTA – The trade ministry has planned to make Indonesia as the exporter of biomass to Japan. The potential biomass that is potential to be absorbed by the country is the palm kernel shells (PKS).
Considered as a clean and renewable energy source that is friendly to the environment, the biomass is potential to fulfill the world’s need for energy amid the rising global awareness on the importance of protecting the environment.
The trade ministry reported that many industries, which previously rely on the use of coal as their energy source, have now turned to the use of palm shells, which are the waste of palm oil industry.
The trade ministry’s National Export Development Director General Kasan said recently that domestic market in Indonesia can only absorb the palm shells at around 25-30 percent, while the rest are useless.
“Indonesia will make the palm shells as one of its top export commodities,” Kasan said in a press release issued on Saturday, 10 April 2021.
He pointed out that PT Prima Khatulistiwa Sinergi, a privately owned Indonesian company, had received its first order from Japan. The company is scheduled to export 10,000 tons of palm shells to Japan in May 2021.
“Currently, the company has secured a trading contract with Japan. Palm shell order is predicted to increase to 150,000 tons per year in the future,” he said.
The trade ministry’s Export Cooperation Development Director Marolop Nainggolan said that the Japanese government is developing 90 power plants which will be operated with the use of biomass as their primary energy source.
The challenges facing Japan in developing the biomass-based power plants include how to ensure the stable supply of biomass in the long term. “So, the country needs to ensure the sustainable availability of biomass supply in long term. The palm shells can fulfill such need,” he asserted.
Besides the palm shells, other biomass wastes from the oil palm trees such as empty fruit bunches and midribs are also potential as the primary energy source to generate power at the biomass-based power plants. The biomass wastes are abundant in Indonesia as the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil with the average production of palm oil at 45 million tons per year and the acreage of oil palm plantations at 16.8 million hectares.
But unfortunately, the prices set by the Indonesian businessmen are not yet competitive due to the fluctuation of export tariff. As a result, the Indonesian businessmen have found it difficult to make the commodity more competitive at the international market, where it has to compete with other biomass products from other countries.
“Considering such condition, the Indonesian government is committed to finding the best solution to make the palm shells more competitive so that it becomes one of our top export commodities. That includes annihilation of palm shell export tariff,” he said. (*)