With global consumption continuing to increase, there is a concomitant thirst for power to fuel demand. But if met by fossil fuel, the price paid might just cost the earth. What then are the options for fuelling the future in a way that ensures there is one?
For many years now, renewable energy has been developed in projects around the globe; this to the point that renewable energy is now cheaper than conventionally produced power. This, of course, has the added benefit of avoiding the liberation of carbon that has been locked up for millennia.
Over the last thirty years, the use of biogas as a renewable fuel source has not only become a well-understood field of expertise, but it has also become an attractive investment as it fulfils many of the criteria laid down by the growing body of legislation designed to meet International targets of reducing GHGs (Green House Gases). Even with the persistence of climate scepticism on the part of some influential legislators, momentum, in terms of transposing the basis of our base energy supply, appears to be unstoppable. Biogas, and its use as a viable fuel, offers as small but important component within the armoury of weapons being deployed against climate change.
In Indonesia, the reliance on fossil fuels to meet the burgeoning domestic energy demand has made it amongst the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. Following ratification of the Paris Agreement, Indonesia indicated that it would be targeting a 26% and 29% GHG emission reduction rate by 2020 and 2030 respectively. This, unfortunately, is some way from being achieved as, over the past five years, energy generation using coal has increased by around 12.2 GW. This compares with only 1.6 GW of renewable energy, and planned capacity additions for renewables have been slashed in favour of coal.
However, as is well documented, with increased demand, there is increased waste, and Indonesia is no different to other countries. Indonesia produces large amounts of organic waste material, mostly food waste, that is currently being underutilised or simply dumped. There is little doubt that biogas generated from this material would offer significant environmental and social benefits, not only as a locally generated energy source but also as a field of technical development and employment throughout Indonesia. Because of the level of accumulated technical experience in developing biogas to energy plants, this type of project can be thought of as ‘low-hanging-fruit’ in terms of the development of viable renewable energy strategy.
The production of waste organic material is only set to increase, and it has been estimated that about 9,597 Mm3/year of biogas could potentially be generated from animal waste alone in Indonesia, a production that could be utilized to generate enough electric power to supply the energy demands of several thousand homes throughout Indonesia.