Indonesia to start nationwide trial of B30 biodiesel

Indonesia has allocated 72M litres of palm oil fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) to run a comprehensive trial for its planned B30 biodiesel programme.

The country aimed to implement B30 (diesel fuel blended with 30% biodiesel) in 2020, Reuters wrote on 18 November.

Earlier in November, the Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association (APROBI) estimated the trial would consume an additional 250M-400M litres of FAME.

The trial was aimed at testing the readiness of B30 in trucks, as well as distribution systems through eight delivery points and pipelines, said the ministry’s director of bioenergy, Andriah Feby Misna.

She told the Jakarta Post that her office was still calculating the allocation FAMEs for the production of B30.

The allocation of FAME in November and December was set at 209.2M litres for the country’s ongoing B20 biodiesel programme and B30 trial, a ministerial decree showed on 11 November.

The government would have to increase this year’s quota for subsidised FAME, which was currently fixed at 6.6bn litres, to accommodate the commercial trial, Misna said.

In October, government researchers completed a road test measuring fuel consumption and emissions from eight cars and three trucks that were driven 50,000km and 40,000km respectively on B30 biodiesel.

Road test coordinator Dadan Kusdiana told reporters that the vehicles consumed 0.87% more fuel compared to when they were driven on B20, Jakarta Post reported.

“It does not mean the vehicles were more wasteful because, on the other hand, they had more power and better performance. In terms of [harmful] emissions, all were reduced, except for nitrogen dioxide, depending on the vehicle type,” he said.

APROBI’s Paulus added that two other prerequisites to run the commercial trial were signing contracts and purchase orders between biofuel producers and fuel retailers, including state-owned energy firm Pertamina and other retailers such as Shell.

Pertamina operated more than 90% of the country’s petrol stations and received 82% of this year’s subsidised FAME, the Jakarta Post reported.

The mandatory use of B30 starting in January was announced by president Joko Widodo in August. The president had said the country would test B50 by the end of next year.

The Jarkarta Post wrote that increased blending was meant to slash oil imports, which heavily contributed to Indonesia’s trade deficit, and open new market opportunities for the domestic palm oil industry, which was concerned about future sales after the EU announced earlier this year that it was phasing out palm-based biofuels.