Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo launched B-30 on Monday, an upgrade to a government program to increase the mandatory biodiesel mix in diesel fuel to 30 percent, one that the president said would significantly reduce Indonesia's reliance on fossil fuel and imported oil.
"If we implement the B-30 program seriously and consistently, we will save around Rp 63 trillion [$4.5 billion] in foreign reserves. This is a huge amount that will ease our current account deficit," Jokowi said at the launch, which was held at a Pertamina fuel station in South Jakarta.
Biodiesel, developed by state-run oil company Pertamina and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, is made mainly of palm oil.
The B-30 was launched earlier than the original schedule of January next year since the government considered the previous B-20 program was a roaring success.
Jokowi said his government is fully committed to developing renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and the country's reliance on oil imports.
He said Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer and for that very reason should not be dependent on fossil fuels.
"We have abundant sources of biofuel to replace diesel fuel and we must make use of this potential to support our self-reliance in the energy sector," the president said.
The local biodiesel industry is attempting to increase domestic demand for crude palm oil at a time when the European markets are slowing due to environmental concerns.
"Implementing the B-30 program will make us more resilient against pressures from other countries, especially those that have launched negative campaigns against Indonesian CPO exports, considering the big domestic market we have," he said.
The president also reiterated the government's ambition to someday increase the mix of biodiesel to 50 percent.
Pertamina President Director Nicke Widyawati said the company has set a sales target of 8.38 million kiloliters of biodiesel under the program.
"The [biodiesel] program could save Rp 43 trillion in foreign reserves this year, and we expect the figure to increase to Rp 63 trillion next year," she said.
Also present at the launch ceremony were Pertamina's new chief commissioner Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto.