Surabaya's 10 November Institute of Technology (ITS) will focus on developing alternative fuels from the marine sector in an effort to anticipate the energy crisis in Indonesia.
Besides developing biofuel from Jatropha and rubber seeds, ITS will also process banana and plastic waste into ethanol as energy to generate power.
The waste could be taken from household and industrial garbage.
In the marine sector, ITS will develop energy from sea tides capable of generating 61 gigawatts, significantly more than the planned PLN state power company's coal-fed power plant that will only produce 41 gigawatts at most by 2020.
ITS' Research and Community Service Institution head I Nyoman Sutantra said to encourage the development of alternative energy, his office would reward students, researchers and lecturers focusing on finding alternative fuels with high economic value to replace fossil fuels.
"We have currently discovered hundreds of alternative fuels, but their applications have met several drawbacks, such as their high cost of production compared to the price of fossil fuel in Indonesia," he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Nyoman said ITS was working with various parties, such as the University of Oldenburg in Germany and the Energy and Technology Center (B2TE) of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), to develop alternative energies.
"We will direct our efforts toward making ITS an eco-friendly energy campus," said Nyoman.
ITS student Achmad Ferdiansyah, who developed banana waste as a source of energy, said his innovation could not yet be applied to meet the power needs of East Java, due to its high production cost compared to coal's.
"Our innovation can only be used for small-scale purposes, such as operating light traps, insect and pest trappers for rice farmers. We named the device Ba-Na Gyzer, or Banana Natural Energizer, so farmers no longer need to use pesticides," he said.
Achmad added the device could also produce fertilizer from the fermentation of banana skin that contains potassium, a common fertilizer compound.
ITS alternative energy expert Sri Nurhatika, who also discovered banana skins could be used to produce bioethanol, said her team was currently raising awareness about the device in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.
"Palangkaraya is teeming with bananas and pineapples, but the community there is often faced with fuel shortages. We wish the government would immediately resolve the problem by processing the waste as a source of alternative energy," she told the Post over the phone.
Sri said if 300 regencies, or 1,200 districts in Indonesia (using the equivalent of 11,016 million kiloliters of kerosene) used bioethanol as a substitute for kerosene, Indonesia could save as much as Rp 84 trillion (about US$7.6 billion) annually, assuming the price of kerosene was Rp 7,600 per liter.
She added bioethanol could also become the source of energy to generate power in rural areas. Some 300 liters of bioethanol could generate 100,000 VA of power for 200 households.