Working Paper

Used cooking oil’s potential to reduce GHG emissions from Indonesia’s fishing fleet

Efforts to reduce the climate impacts of fishing are rarely included in countries’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies and most fishing vessels are too small to be covered by international maritime regulations. At the same time, the growing demand for fish around the world is putting more pressure on fisheries, including those in Indonesia, which is already one of the largest fish exporters in the world. Indonesia can maximize its bioenergy potential by adding new feedstocks for biodiesel production and this study explores the potential of used cooking oil (UCO) biodiesel, an advanced biofuel, to help power the Indonesian fishing fleet and the associated emissions benefits. It also explores how more sustainable fishing practices can increase the potential of UCO biodiesel.

The authors find that if supplied at its full potential, UCO biodiesel could replace 16% of the annual energy demand from Indonesia’s fishing fleet (the demand estimates are based on 2019 fish catch data). Replacing fish trawling with less fuel-intensive practices was estimated to decrease fuel consumption by 32% and thus increase UCO’s potential to cover total demand from the fishing fleet to 24%. As shown in the figure below, blending UCO biodiesel could cut well-to-wake carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 11% compared to fossil diesel, and those emissions savings go up to 43% in a scenario where trawls are banned and instead sustainable fishing gears including surrounding nets, hooks and lines, and pots and traps for crustaceans are used. It is clear there are important co-benefits from sustainable fishing fuels and fishing methods. Indonesia can support UCO biodiesel by incorporating it into the National Energy Plan as an approved feedstock for biodiesel production and adding it to the national biodiesel mandate, which would make it eligible for subsidies. Further support would come from maintaining and strengthening the nationwide trawl ban and establishing a goal-oriented program to improve existing fishing practices.

side-by-side bar charts show the reduction in well-to-wake GHG emissions (in CO2e) from adding UCO biodiesel at full potential on the left side (11% reduction) and from combining UCO biodiesel and a ban on trawlers (32% reduction) on the right side (combined 43% reduction).

Figure. Estimated WTW CO2e100 emissions from the Indonesian fishing fleet.

Alternative fuels