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The Development of Anaerobic Digester Technology for Palm Oil EFB Waste in Indonesia

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This technical assistance advances the following Sustainable Development Goals: 

Affordable and clean energy

Goal7
Affordable and clean energy

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Goal9
Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Climate action

Goal 13: Climate action
Goal13
Climate action

This Technology Transfer Advances Indonesia's

Context

Indonesia is the world’s largest crude palm oil producer and accounts for approximately 60% of world palm oil production. An inevitable outcome of its production is the generation of considerable waste, including empty fruit bunches (EFB). While bio-waste conversion to energy through burning is currently being utilized, the high EFB moisture content creates an energy drain on the process. Anaerobic digester technologies, which transform EFB into biogas and organic fertilizer, could prove a more appropriate technology in this regard. As a renewable energy, biogas can then be optimized as an electricity source. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the best anaerobic digester for EFB processing technology, especially related to large scale palm oil production. 

Technology request

The Indonesian research and academic institution University of Lampung and the NDE of Indonesia, based on requests from the palm oil industries, requested technology transfer, capacity building and identification of the most relevant technology for waste processing of empty fruit bunches (EFB), more specificially related to the best anaerobic digester technology for EFB waste treatment. 

CTCN Support

CTCN facilitated in a match-making role to connect the University of Lampung with CTCN network member in order for them to provide all required information and provide technology transfer on anaerobic digester technology. The network member has considerable previous experience in design and construction of Palm Oil empty fruit bunch-based anaerobic digesters in Malaysia and Indonesia. They currently have several pilot plants installed and operational in Indonesia and other countries.  

As part of CTCN's match-making role the CTCN facilitated meetings between the University of Lampung and the network member in view of providing a sustainable solution to the palm oil waste energy production through:

  • Mapping of existing anaerobic digester technologies for EFB waste treatment and propose most relevant examples 
  • Facilitating knowledge exchange through expert collaboration and capacity building
  • Providing support on the planning of an EFB anaerobic digester demonstration plant 

Relevant Technologies and Approaches

For further details please see Documents section below.

Expected Impact

  • Shift to more efficient EFB waste treatment 
  • Production of renewable energy and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Creation of new business opportunities in power generation 
  • Increase in electricity ratio for remote areas

Gender considerations

Using anaerobic digester technologies for waste processing of palm oil residues such as empty fruit bunches is a more efficient way of utilizing energy compared to the current waste-to-energy practise of incinerating the residues, mainly due to the high moisture content of the EFB. The resulting products biogas and organic fertiliser can be of benefit to women in particular. Cooking with biogas reduces time spent on cooking considerably compared to using firewood or charcoal as cooking fuel, and can thus lead to important time saved for women and girls. Studies show that freed up time can be used to do additional activities such as animal management, improving farming activities, putting more time into gardening work etc. Furthermore, as women are often in charge of farming and agricultural practises, the use of organic fertiliser can be a useful addition to those practises to increase land productivity. A significant amount of the Indonesian population still lack access to household electricity. If biogas is used for electricity generation rather than or in addition to cooking, increased access to electricity can improve women's working conditions.  

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