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Jakarta Post

Bandung to use biodigester in waste-based power plant

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Thu, August 6, 2015   /  08:26 am

The Bandung municipal administration in West Java is planning to use biodigestion technology in its planned waste-based power plant (PLTSa) as an effort to introduce eco-friendly waste management to the city. The technology will replace the use of an incinerator proposed earlier by the previous administration.

'€œThe PLTSa has caused controversy because of its equipment. Now, there is new equipment, called a biodigester, that can be an [alternative] for an incinerator,'€ Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil said recently.

Ridwan, known as an architect with a prominent international reputation prior to starting his political career, argues that the use of biodigester has a smaller environmental impact given that, unlike an incinerator, it doesn'€™t involve any burning,

'€œPreviously, we thought the biodigester, in which bacteria eats the waste, was small. In Germany, however, we can find a city-scale biodigesting [operation]. The PLTSa is indeed necessary, but an incinerator is not,'€ he said.

Like an incinerator, a biodigester can produce methane gas from waste, which can later be processed into thermal energy to generate electricity.

As one of the country'€™s largest cities, and home to 2.5 million people, Bandung produces up to 1,600 tons of garbage daily. The poor waste management in Bandung came into the spotlight in 2005 after an explosion at the city'€™s Leuwigajah sanitary landfill triggered a garbage slide that killed 147 people.

The idea of building the PLTSa in Bandung was inspired by the incident. In August 2013, PT Bandung Raya Indah Lestari and its partner Hangzou Boiler Group won the tender to build a waste-based power plant in Bandung. The then city administration, under the leadership of former mayor Dada Rosada, insisted on using the incinerator as part of the power plant. However, Dada was replaced by Ridwan the month after the tender was awarded, after the latter won the city'€™s mayoral election.

The PLTSa construction project is yet to begin as it is still pending final approval from the current municipal administration.

Separately, the advocacy coordinator for the West Java chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Dwi Sawung, applauded Ridwan'€™s plan to replace the incinerator technology.

'€œThe PLTSa'€™s operator, however, must ensure that the waste water produced by the biodigesting process does not become another source of pollution as the biodigestion process usually produces a stinky smell,'€ Sawung said.

Bandung-based biodigester producer Bambang Boedi Cahyono, however, said many businesses had preferred to sell methane gas as fuel rather than processing it to generate electricity, as the former could make a higher profit.

According to Bambang, a 2-ton capacity biodigester facility, like the one he installed at Gedebage market in Bandung, could produce up to 15 kilowatts of power per hour.

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