updated 3/11/2009 1:26:52 PM ET 2009-03-11T17:26:52

Indonesia and South Korea have agreed to invest in alternative energy research on converting seaweed into biofuel that can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an official said.

Jakarta will cultivate seaweed, while South Korea will provide know-how, an Indonesian Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

South Korea already has technology needed to produce biofuel from seaweed, but so far has not commercialized it, ministry spokesman Soen'an Hadi Poernomo said.

Research on seaweed energy gained momentum in recent years as alternatives were sought for palm oil, which is criticized by conservationists because crop plantations often replace old forests that store huge quantities of carbon dioxide.

Seaweed is considered more environmentally friendly because it absorbs greenhouse gases blamed for climate change and can be cultivated at sea.

Financial details of the Indonesian-Korean project have not been worked out, but Poernomo said experts from both countries will set up a pilot project outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed last weekend.

Indonesia is looking for ways to use seaweed, a popular export mainly used for cosmetics and food.

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