25 March 2019
Below Fumi Harahap shares the importance of her current publication "Opportunities to Optimize the Palm Oil Supply Chain in Sumatra, Indonesia" and the impact of the 2018 YSSP.
My research investigates the case of palm oil agro-industry for bioenergy production in Indonesia. Palm oil is currently a widely debated agriculture crop because of the non-sustainable land use practices of some oil palm plantations, which threaten the natural forests. However, this is an important industry in Indonesia, providing food and non-food products, and major export revenues. In addition, the government of Indonesia sees bioenergy as an attractive option to promote socio-economic development and improve energy security.
Therefore, I have raised the question: Can the palm-oil industry become sustainable? The publication, which is the outcome of my YSSP research project, analyzed the potential of palm biomass residues for bioenergy production in a geographically explicit way. Half of the bioenergy target in Indonesia can be met in 2025 through utilization of palm biomass residues in Sumatra island. The study provides recommendations for policy makers that system improvements can be done in stages through improvement in the plantation yield and improving electricity grid connection. The results show that there are alternatives for decoupling the palm oil industry’s growth from plantation expansion, while curtailing deforestation and promoting sustainable development.
The timing to participate in YSSP Summer 2018 could not have been better. In autumn 2017, I was preparing my licentiate exam (in Sweden it is equivalent to pre-doctoral degree, which also marks half term of PhD). I was not sure how to move forward with my research after that. With the great encouragement from my supervisors at KTH Sweden, Prof. Semida Silveira and Dr. Dilip Khatiwada and my colleagues, Dr. Maria Xylia and Dr. Brijesh Mainali, who are all former YSSPer, I am glad that I decided to apply for YSSP 2018. They had given me three strong recommendations: have a good research plan, stay focused and have fun!
YSSP gave me a summer dedicated to research and an opportunity to meet other brilliant PhD students from over twenty countries. I am glad to have been part of a well-structured program and I am amazed with how much support I was able to get from IIASA scholars. However, YSSP is not all about research. I took part in organizing the famous Asian day with great food and great entertainment. For the first time in my life after school, I performed dance in front of an audience.
Asia Day 2018
I am grateful for the support from my IIASA supervisors Dr. Sylvain Leduc and Dr. Sennai Mesfun. Thanks to them, I managed to execute my research plan and meet my initial targets. In particular, I am grateful for them to let me work on their model. I am also thankful to Dr. Geza Toth for his support and enthusiasm.
The YSSP research project was just the beginning of my collaboration with IIASA. I continue to collaborate with the ESM group to further develop the model and publish the results. It is my final year of my PhD and I am glad that my PhD project now is on the right track to reach it’s conclusion and has gained attention from Indonesian and Swedish stakeholders. I hope the outcome of my research can bring further insights to Indonesian stakeholders towards the transition into sustainable bioenergy production and contribute to enable science-based policymaking. It is experience from YSSP that has given me the confidence to be able to finish my PhD project and the inspiration and enthusiasm to consider a further career in research.
Last edited: 25 March 2019
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