The Search for Clean Alternative Energy in Indonesia

Women in Lumajang using the biogas

Sitting outside his barn in the East Java town of Lumajang, a farmer proudly tells a story of how manure changed his life for the better.

With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 45-year old Sukaningoyo has turned manure into biogas, an unlikely source of income, electricity and clean cooking, whereby fuel for daily cooking comes from renewable sources rather than timber. 

 “Before we had biogas, every two or three days I always had to look for firewood in our farmland, and it was difficult to cook when there was no firewood,” said Sukaningoyo, smiling to the nod of his wife, Suliamsi. “Now, all we have to do is turn the knob and we’re ready to cook,” said the father of  one son, adding biogas also powers light bulbs inside his barn, located behind his house. 


  • Under “Switch to Biogas” project, UNDP helps the villagers of Lumajang to turn manure into biogas – a source of alternative energy.
  • The biogas project also helps boosting the villagers' income & completes the cycle of waste management.
  • UNDP is planning to scale up the project to around 400 households in Java & 200 households each in the islands of Sulawesi & Sumatra.

With support from the Korean Energy Management Company (KEMCO), the project has also stimulated the local economy with fish-feed and organic fertilizer cultivation. This community-based business model also completes the cycle of waste management, ensuring there is little residue left from dairy farming.

Sukaningoyo was able to increase his house income with the sales of dry biogas waste to the industry that further process it into commercial fish and fertilizer. His record shows that his income has gone up by almost 14 percent per month to $ 100 from $88.

Under UNDP’s ‘Switch to Biogas’ project, Sukaningoyo and his wife have not only increased their income, but also limited their environmental impact. Like most dairy farmers in Lumajang, he used to discard the cow manure into nearby ravines, which causes water and land pollution. 

“The manure used to flow to our land and other people’s lands,” said Sikaningoyo, whose family is one 38 households in his village participating in the project.  Women make up the majority of recipients of this initiative.

Furthermore, cow manure is known to release a large amount of methane gas which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions - a key factor affecting climate change.  The biogas project provides one answer to this challenge.

“We are starting to see the real impact of this project to the farmers’ household due to the reduced pollution of soil and water from livestock ” said Verania Andria, the project manager, 

Biogas initiatives like this one can ease the limited access to electricity nationwide. According to Indonesia’s Energy Ministry, there are 42 million households in Indonesia lacking access to electricity. Furthermore the International Energy Agency estimates around 2.7 billion people worldwide have no access to clean cooking facilities.

In this project, dairy farmers are not only taught the meticulous process of turning cow manure into biogas, but are given access to micro-credit loans. This helps them develop their small enterprises, which should ideally support them in paying back the loan installments in setting up the biogas facility.

Looking ahead, UNDP plans to scale up the project targeting around 400 households in Java, and 200 households each in Sulawesi and Sumatera. The scale up will include.  The next step after the scale up is to conduct policy advocacy to the Ministry of Energy and  Ministry of small-medium enterprises to ensure linkage between access to energy with productive economy  and to engage wider commercial banks to establish micro-financing for biogas facility for low income household

The success of the project has prompted interest from private sectors. Some have expressed the wish to replicate such projects in other dairy farming communities, as part of their corporate social responsibility activities.

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