Production of sorghum pellets for electricity generation in Indonesia: A life cycle assessment

Edi Iswanto Wiloso*, Arief Ameir Rahman Setiawan, Hafiizh Prasetia, Muryanto, Adisa Ramadhan Wiloso, Subyakto, I. Made Sudiana, Reni Lestari, Satya Nugroho, Dede Hermawan, Kai Fang, Reinout Heijungs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The current study makes use of life cycle assessment to evaluate the potential greenhouse gas (GHG) savings in coal electricity generation by 5% co-firing with sorghum pellets. The research models the utilization of 100 thousand hectares of under-utilized marginal land in Flores (Indonesia) for biomass sorghum cultivation. Based on equivalent energy content, 1.12 tons of pellets can substitute one ton of coal. The calculated fossil energy ratio of the pellets was 5.8, indicating that the production of pellets for fuel is energetically feasible. Based on a biomass yield of 48 ton/ha·yr, 4.8 million tons of pellets can be produced annually. In comparison with a coal system, the combustion of only pellets to generate 8,300 GWh of electricity can reduce global warming impacts by 7.9 million tons of CO2-eq, which is equivalent to an 85% reduction in GHG emissions. However, these results changed when reduced biomass yield of 24 ton/ha·yr, biomass loss, field emissions, and incomplete combustion were considered in the model. A sensitivity analysis of the above factors showed that the potential GHG savings could decrease from the initially projected 85% to as low as 70%. Overall, the production of sorghum pellets in Flores and their utilization for electricity generation can significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change mitigation. Some limitations to these conclusions were also discussed herein. The results of this scenario study can assist the Indonesian government in exploring the potential utilization of marginal land for bioenergy development, both in Indonesia and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1194
Number of pages17
JournalBiofuel Research Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


We would like to thank Patrik J.G. Henriksson of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University and WorldFish for his valuable input and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript. This work was supported by SATREPS-JICA, the project for producing biomass energy and material through the revegetation of Alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica) fields, a collaborative project between the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Indonesia, and Kyoto University, Japan.

FundersFunder number
Kyoto University
Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia


    • Bioenergy
    • Climate change mitigation
    • Flores island
    • Grass pellet
    • Greenhouse gas
    • Marginal land


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