By: Ibnu Budiman
Researcher of Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University & Research

Fragmented biogas governance in Indonesia

To cope with depleting oil reserves and the rise of GHGs emission, energy transition is being promoted, one of them is done through biogas. Several institutions and companies in Indonesia have begun to produce biogas from livestock dung, palm oil effluents and other organic wastes. Yet, it is still not too massive, the number of disseminations of small-medium biodigester is only around 37,000 (ESDM, 2018). This number only accounts for less than 2% energy source for cooking. While it has potential to be developed to contribute to 13.3 per cent of the country’s energy source, one of the barriers comes from policy and governance aspect.

In 2018, the government decided to centralize biogas programs that previously distributed in various institutions. A research from Wageningen University shows that some cooperation had been implemented by various institutions/stakeholders to support biogas development. These stakeholders’ cooperation in the biogas regime materialized at the same time as the increase in the dissemination of biodigesters. From 2007 to 2017, the number of disseminations of small-medium biodigester increased from around 800/year to 36,000/year. The question is whether this increase in output are really caused by the cooperation, or was it just a coincidence?

Integrated biogas policy and governance in China

China, as a leading country in biogas development, has experience of that causality. In this country, the transformation of biogas governance developed from fragmented to integrated, which has implications for output effectiveness of biogas policy.

The development of household biogas in rural China involved various policy instruments and governance arrangements, such as directive and guiding policies, economic-inspiring policies, research policies, market policies, besides other constructive policies. Every policy was gradually issued by the government. In addition, the National People’s Congress also enacted five relevant laws: The Agricultural Law, Renewable Energy Law, Animal Husbandry Law, Energy Conservation Law and the Act on the Development of Circular Economy. Relational rules and regulations in different sectors and at levels were also formed in response to the national policies and laws, whilst the technology standard within projects was also established. These policies were made to boost biogas development in China. Feng et al. (2012) found that a series of constructive policies were gradually issued and proposed from the viewpoint of long-term effective development systems related to the bioenergy industries in China. The series of policies were based on an eco-household project that was incorporated into the national bond project. This project was one of the principal tasks of the Chinese government and it was combined with policies on renewable energy development that were issued in 1995 and later about policy on climate.

The series of policies involved cooperation among multiple government bodies. Moreover, they contributed to numerous aspects in the development of the biogas sector, such as strengthening strategy research by the National Development and Reform Committee in 2006, enhancing scientific research input by the Financial and Economic Committee and Construction in 2006, continuing technology innovation by the Agricultural Ministry, establishing product quality standards, improving industrial standard systems, opening markets and accelerating commercialization. The coordination among policy actors resulted in its integration in a national biogas plan that was mainstreamed to local government plans. This cooperative regime produced significant effects in which biogas in rural households in China was growing steadily. The number of household biogas digesters and annual biogas output was double in 2010, compared to 2005. There are 40 million households using biogas digesters. China has succeeded in integrating multiple policies to increase the output of biogas development and it reveals a lesson learned for another country.

Way forward for Indonesia

Then how to replicate the success in Indonesia? Short term, it can be done through a regulatory approach and change in governance strategy. First, regulation on the use of biogas needs to be supported by another policy for reducing the subsidy for LPG and transferring the budget for subsidizing biogas use, particularly on farming regions that have abundant feedstocks to generate biogas. Then, an overarching policy framework is required for an integrated biogas national plan that combines different strategies from the General Planning for National Energy (RUEN), Climate Change Mitigation, NGOs, and other related policies/programs; not only for household but also for large-scale biodigester. Biogas should also be mainstreamed through The Agricultural Law, Animal Husbandry Law, by the People’s Representative Council (DPR). Moreover, directive and guiding policies, economic-based policies, research policies and market policies, are likewise required to gradually issued to boost biogas development. Particularly for economic-based policy instrument, this policy should be developed further to attract more biogas businesses and its market creation.

Second, those regulations must be synergized with ministerial policies and projects. Currently, Indonesia has a voluntary policy instrument for biogas by providing grants of biodigesters to rural households and organizations. These policy instruments must be implemented by various government bodies across sectors (environment, forestry, agriculture, rural development) and across levels (national, provincial, and regency). Distribution of power in managing biogas programs allow creation of multiple resources (authority, funding and techno-scientific knowledge) in supporting dissemination of biodigester. Clear allocation of tasks and functions for different institutions must be formulated in achieving the common target and plan for biogas programs. (In)formal provisions are required to support coordination and cooperation among organizations across administrative levels and sectors.

Long term, the degree of partnership on the planning and implementation among the program must be increased, by using integrated topics like climate action, renewable energy, and rural development. The partnership triggers coordination, information exchange, and adaptive learning among actors and institutions to support the improvement of each biogas program. It includes cooperation between biogas from manures with biogas from palm oil refinery effluents. The partnership can also involve local institutions in the creation of biogas-related institutions/programs. It will be a process to distribute institutionalized functions, responsibilities, authority, and finance across programs and to adjust the level of decentralization in accordance with the available personnel capability. Furthermore, it can lead to the direction of integrated biogas governance that can be an effective governance architecture for resulting in powerful output and outcome.

Last, this whole strategy should be aligned with long-term effective development systems related to the dissemination of bioenergy and renewable energy in the country.


Budiman, I. (2019, Maret 22). Setumpuk Kendala Penyebaran Biogas. Retrieved from WRI:

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IEA. (2019, June 25). Energy Efficiency 2018: Analysis and Outlooks to 2040. Retrieved from IEA:

Budiman, I., & Smits, M. M. (2018). The tangled thread: Fragmentation of biogas governance in Indonesia.

Feng, Y., Guo, Y., Yang, G., Qin, X., & Song, Z. (2012). Household biogas development in rural China: On policy support and other macro sustainable conditions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews16(8), 5617-5624.

Global Methane (n.d) Waste management in China. Retrieved from

Putra, Y. M. (2017, May 24). Potensi Ekonomi Kotoran Sapi Disebut Triliunan per Tahun. Retrieved from Republika:

*This opinion piece is the author(s) own and does not necessarily represent opinions of the Purnomo Yusgiantoro Center (PYC).


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