The Wood Bioenergy Program Poses an Increasing Threat to the Forests of South Kalimantan

Banjarmasin, February 26, 2024 – In the roadmap of the State Electricity Company (PLN), Indonesia has ambitious targets not only to enforce co-firing up to 10% in 52 steam power plants (PLTU), but also 30% co-firing in all new PLTUs. The targets are oppositely proportional to their implementation, where the average implementation in 44 co-firing facilities only reached 1.17%. Data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) at the end of 2023 shows that the Asam-Asam PLTU in South Kalimantan was only able to co-fire 0.47%. The implementation which are far from these ambitious targets is supported by the justification of carbon-neutral claims.

The Asia Trend Study refutes the carbon-neutral claims of the co-firing program, as the 52 power plants requiring 10.2 million tons of biomass are estimated to generate a net emission of 26.48 million tons of carbon from the biomass production process. Carbon emissions from biomass production are generated by deforestation from the establishment of Energy Plantation Forests (HTE) which will never be compensated for by the energy crop planting process. And their combustion in power plants is expected to result in approximately 17.8 million tons of carbon emissions. The carbon-neutral claims are used by the PLTU for greenwashing, appearing environmentally friendly, boosting the renewable energy mix, and delaying decommissioning.

In the Trend Asia study, it would require an area of up to 2.33 million hectares or 35 times the size of Jakarta to be converted into Energy Plantation Forests (HTE) to supply the co-firing of the PLTU. This will trigger deforestation threats and land conflicts. Currently, there are already 31 PBPH-HT concessions covering 1.3 million hectares committed to allocating 220 thousand hectares of their land for energy plantation cultivation. To meet the 2.33 million-hectare requirement, an additional 2.1 million hectares may be needed, possibly coming from new permits. According to Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), as of now, 420 thousand hectares of natural forests are planned to be destroyed for HTE development in these 31 concessions.

Peta biomassa dan lumbung deforestasi hutan di indonesia

South Kalimantan itself is a province targeted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) with the issuance of new permits for plantation forests covering an area of 76,567 hectares, as part of emission reduction efforts. It is even more extensive in the FoLU Net Sink 2030 document, as much as 397,511 hectares of natural forests in South Kalimantan are at risk of deforestation without real mitigation actions down to the ground level. The development of plantation forests, including Energy Plantation Forests (HTE), is likely to become a driver of deforestation. Forests should be preserved because they play a vital role in carbon sequestration to achieve a net sink by 2030.

However, KLHK instead giving ease of licensing by granting exclusivity to companies through providing 9 “red carpet” land acquisitions to meet land needs, which come from the reduction of forest function & change of forest area function, forest area use, and forest utilization. The need for wood for bioenergy will further drive deforestation from the expansion of forestry companies’ businesses with such facilitation.

In South Kalimantan, there are already 3 companies that have obtained exclusivity for the development of HTE, which are PBPH-HT PT Jhonlin Agro Mandiri in Tanah Bumbu, PBPH-HT PT Inhutani II Senakin in Kota Baru, and PBPH-HT PT Inhutani III Unit Pelaihari in Tanah Laut. FWI (2024) notes that the natural forests threatened with destruction in these 3 concessions amount to 9,319 hectares.


In addition to the presence of HTE in South Kalimantan, there are also co-firing power plants, namely the Asam-asam Steam Power Plant with a capacity of 4 x 65 MW and plans for the development of the Mantuil Bio Power Plant, a bioenergy power plant in Mantuil with a capacity of 10 MW. The existence of co-firing power plants and bioenergy plants will drive the demand for biomass. Currently, PT Inhutani III Unit Pelaihari is suspected to be the supplier for the Asam-asam PLTU, since it is located the closest to the PLTU.

Despite being claimed as clean energy, the utilization of wood bioenergy will actually further threaten natural forests, which play a vital role as one of the largest carbon sinks in the world. The development of HTE has also had negative impacts on indigenous communities, such as the Marind community in Merauke and the Mentawai indigenous community. The Dayak indigenous community in South Kalimantan, who have long been marginalized in their own land, will also be under threat.


“Energy transition through wood biomass as a supposedly renewable energy source is a form of greenwashing, which will only benefit coal corporations and forestry corporations. The emissions generated from the production and combustion of biomass prove that biomass is not a viable option for transitioning towards clean energy. For corporations, this is an opportunity for expansion that will further extend the disparities of land control. Energy transition should exclude types of energy that are false solutions to addressing the climate crisis and instead promote renewable energy solutions from communities, to achieve a just energy transition.” Amalya Reza Oktaviani, Biomass Program Manager, Trend Asia.

“The emissions reduction strategy through the development of Energy Plantation Forests to meet the demand for wood biomass production will actually drive massive deforestation of natural forests. To achieve the 2030 net sink target from the FoLU sector (forests and land use), there should be a strategy to mitigate the protection of natural forests that is recognized by all parties. One of them is to stop the development of plantation forests, including Energy Plantation Forests, which actually become a new driver of deforestation in Indonesia.” Anggi Putra Prayoga, Campaign Manager and Advocacy, Media FWI

“Government should immediately conduct a review and audit of extractive industry permits in South Kalimantan, including the 3 PBPH Energy Plantation Forest companies, as an effort to protect South Kalimantan forests which are already unable to accommodate new permits. The government should focus on rehabilitating forest and land damage and realizing environmentally friendly and just renewable energy, and not adding to the damage of forests and land, and threaten the safety of people living inside and outside forest areas.” Kisworo, Executive Director of Walhi South Kalimantan

By focusing on granting new permits to corporations to establish energy plantation forests, it has led to the stagnation of recognition for indigenous customary communities in South Kalimantan. Yet, indigenous communities have long lived and depended on the forest. Prioritizing indigenous communities is essential to realize the aspirations of indigenous communities for sovereignty, independence, and dignity.” Baderie, AMAN South Kalimantan and LPMA Member.


The Values ​​& Principles of a Just and Sustainable Energy Transition in Indonesia document can be downloaded via the following link: Values ​​& Principles of a Just and Sustainable Energy Transition in Indonesia

The PDF of Forest Watch Indonesia’s presentation can be downloaded via the following link: Energy Transition: New Driver of Damage to Indonesia’s Natural Resources?

The PDF of the Asian Trends Presentation can be downloaded via the following link: Energy Transition False Solutions

Contact person:

Forest Watch Indonesia (085720346154)

Firman Imaduddin – Campaigner Media Trend Asia (081386440901)

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