Indonesian presidential hopefuls vow energy self-sufficiency via palm

(Reuters, 18 Feb 2019) Greenpeace criticises both candidates for failing to ensure the biofuel programmes they promised will not cause further loss of forests, peatlands and mangroves.

Indonesia's two presidential candidates pledged to achieve energy self-sufficiency by boosting the use of bioenergy, particularly fuelled by palm oil, to cut costly oil imports by Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Indonesia, the world's biggest palm oil producer, has been pushing for all diesel fuel used in the country to contain biodiesel to boost palm consumption, slash fuel imports, and narrow a yawning current account gap.

In a televised election debate, President Joko Widodo said if he won a second term the government planned to implement a B100 programme, referring to fuel made entirely from palm oil, after last year making it mandatory to use biodiesel containing 20 percent bio-content (B20).

"We hope 30 percent of total palm production will go to biofuel. The plan is clear, so we will not rely on imported oil," Widodo said, adding that Indonesia's crude palm oil production had reached 46 million tonnes a year.

Agreeing on the importance of bioenergy for self-sufficiency, his opponent Prabowo Subianto said if elected he would also "boost the use of palm oil, palm sugar, cassava and ethanol from sugar (cane)".

The challenger did not elaborate on his bioenergy plan, but his campaign team has proposed using millions of hectares of degraded land to cultivate palm sugar to produce energy.

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Reuters, 18 Feb 2019: Indonesian presidential hopefuls vow energy self-sufficiency via palm