Questioning the Co-firing Policy for Power Plant

By: Teguh Iman Affandi

The government plans to mix coal with biomass in the combustion process at the Steam Power Plant (PLTU). This policy, known as co-firing, aims to utilize renewable energy. However, this does not mean that this policy is not problematic.

Zainur Rohman, Member of Kaoem Telapak, said that reducing carbon emissions is the government’s mandate. Co-firing is one way to reduce these emission levels. In practice, the biomass used is plastic waste, sawdust, and wood pellets.

Zainur Rohman, member of Kaoem Telapak

The man who is often called Cak Imin said that his concern was biomass derived from wood. “Sawdust, which was originally waste then becomes raw material, hence it needs to be checked whether the material is obtained legally and sustainably,” he said.

Data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) states that the Government has tested the co-firing policy in 26 coal-fired power plants with a biomass capacity of 5-10%. Of the 26 PLTUs, 13 of them have implemented this policy commercially. It is estimated that, by 2024, the co-firing capacity in Indonesia could reach 18 Gigawatts.

In a press release, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources mentioned technical problems in implementing this co-firing policy. The difference in characteristics between coal and biomass causes problems in power plant boilers and feeding equipment.

In addition, the issue of biomass supply is a challenge in itself. According to katadata.co.id, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources predicts that the amount of biomass needed for the co-firing program in the Electricity Supply Business Plan (RUPTL) for the period 2021 – 2030 will continue to increase. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources projects that the amount of biomass needed is eleven million tons per year.

Meanwhile, a report from Trend Asia called the co-firing policy a “false energy transition”. The report states that to supply biomass from wood, for example, the government needs 2.33 million hectares of land, equivalent to 35 times the area of ​​Jakarta to build a Renewable Energy Forest. The provision of this biomass, according to Trend Asia, will increase Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26.48 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Will deforestation increase due to co-firing policy?

Until 2022, the new co-firing policy is in the pilot stage. If this policy is implemented, according to Cak Imin, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the State Electricity Company, must respect and implement Government Regulations related to forestry operations, including following the Timber Verification and Assurance System (SVLK) scheme that Indonesia has built since 2009 to obtain its biomass supply. . “The ESDM should also implement SVLK,” he said


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