Indonesian President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, announced the government's commitment to advancing the development of a domestic seaweed processing industry during a business conference. This initiative extends to the production of bioethanol from seaweed.
Jokowi emphasized the success of implementing a downstream policy for mineral resources, which led to the ban on nickel ore exports in 2020. This move incentivized investments in smelters and facilities for processing materials used in electric vehicle batteries. As a result, Indonesia attracted substantial investments to support domestic processing.
The President revealed plans to apply a similar downstream policy to agriculture products, with a particular focus on seaweed. Indonesia is currently the world's second-largest producer of seaweed, presenting an opportunity for the development of a local industry.
Seaweed, beyond its conventional uses in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, can also serve as a valuable source for bioethanol production, as Jokowi highlighted. Indonesia's seaweed production is estimated at 10.2 million metric tons this year, primarily exported in its raw form.
While bioethanol is typically derived from sugar molasses, certain varieties of seaweed have been promoted as an alternative feedstock for producing renewable fuel. This initiative aligns with Indonesia's goals to enhance its bioethanol production capacity and increase the utilization of renewable fuels in its energy consumption.
The country has already mandated the use of B35 biodiesel, containing 35% palm oil-derived fuel. However, the adoption of a bioethanol blend in gasoline has been limited due to constraints in sugar supply. To address this challenge, authorities have also explored alternative sources for bioethanol, such as cassava.
Jokowi's announcement underscores the Indonesian government's commitment to fostering a robust domestic seaweed industry and promoting bioethanol production as part of its renewable energy strategy.