- Indonesia is pursuing a 23% renewable energy mix, and the government has carried out biomass co-firing at PLTUs, which are expected to grow to 52 PLTUs by 2025.
- Therefore this will promote the establishment of large-scale timber plantations or Energy Plantation Forests to produce raw materials for biomass cofiring such as wood pellet.
- However, several concerns have been raised about the potential impact of energy plantation forests on biodiversity, land-use change, and social conflicts.
Indonesia is pursuing a 23% renewable energy mix, and the government has carried out biomass co-firing at PLTUs, which are expected to grow to 52 PLTUs by 2025. This practice combines biomass with coal in PLTU, such as wood pellets, palm shells, or rice husks which usually comes from waste. The issue is that waste-derived biomass frequently falls short of meeting the PLTU’s basic biomass material requirements. Wood pellet biomass is the simplest way to meet this massive demand for raw materials. Therefore this will promote the establishment of large-scale timber plantations or Energy Plantation Forests to produce raw materials for biomass such as wood pellet.
What is energy plantation forests?
Energy plantation forests are planted and managed specifically to generate bioenergy, such as wood pellets, biofuels, and biomass for power generation. The development of energy plantation forests can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a renewable energy source while also supporting rural community development and improving the country’s energy security.
However, the risk of deforestation from the development of energy plantation forest to produce wood pellet biomass cannot be avoided. Specifically, according to MapBiomas Indonesia data, 38% or 1,330,236 hectares of the total area covered by industrial plantation forest in 2019 came from natural forest clearing. Co-firing 10% of biomass in 52 power plants necessitates 10.23 million tonnes of wood pellet biomass per year. According to Mumu Muhajir, Trend Asia Researcher, to meet the demand for wood pellets of this size, at least 2.33 million hectares of Energy Plantation Forests are required, which is equivalent to 35 times the area of Jakarta Province or 3,270,000 football fields.
Therefore several concerns have been raised about the potential impact of energy plantation forests on biodiversity, land-use change, and social conflicts. Because of the country’s rich biodiversity and the prevalence of land conflicts, the dilemma is especially acute in Indonesia.
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The biodiversity, ecosystem and social impact
One of the main concerns is that the development of energy plantation forests may result in the conversion of natural forests and other ecosystems into monoculture plantations, resulting in biodiversity and ecosystem services loss. Indonesia has some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, and converting these areas to monoculture plantations could have serious environmental consequences.
Furthermore, the expansion of energy plantation forests may exacerbate land conflicts in Indonesia. Land tenure in the country is frequently a complex issue, with multiple stakeholders claiming rights to the same land. Creating energy plantation forests may complicate matters further by introducing new actors, such as companies or investors looking to establish plantations for biomass production. Moreover, the development of energy plantation forests may have social consequences, particularly for rural communities. Large-scale plantations may displace small-scale farmers and indigenous communities who rely on the land for a living. This could lead to social conflicts as well as the loss of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.
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The government response
To address these concerns, the Indonesian government has implemented a number of policies and regulations designed to promote the development of sustainable energy plantation forests. For example, the government has established a certification system for sustainable forest management that includes criteria for biodiversity conservation and community involvement. Furthermore, the government has established guidelines for developing energy plantation forests, which require companies to conduct environmental and social impact assessments before establishing plantations. Furthermore, companies must obtain the consent of local communities before beginning any plantation activities.
Nevertheless, developing energy plantation forests for biomass raw materials remains a complex and contentious issue in Indonesia. The country must strike a balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable energy, as well as protecting biodiversity, maintaining social stability, and promoting equitable development.
To target this balance, the government of Indonesia must continue to develop and implement policies and regulations that prioritize sustainability and community participation. Collaboration between government agencies, private companies, civil society organizations, and local communities will be required to ensure that the development of energy plantation forests is sustainable, equitable, and beneficial to all stakeholders.
To conclude, developing energy plantation forests in Indonesia for biomass raw materials is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of environmental, social, and economic factors. While energy plantation forests can help the country meet its renewable energy goals, they must be developed in a sustainable and socially responsible manner that benefits all stakeholders while not jeopardizing the country’s biodiversity or social stability.
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Editor: Himatul Azqiya
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