Power for Development
    Category: Column By : Scott Younger Read : 859 Date : Monday, March 02, 2015 - 19:43:34

    The archipelagic configuration of Indonesia offers many challenges to central and local governments for equitable sustainable development, which is the objective set out in the 2011 Six-Corridor Masterplan (MP3EI). The requirements for each of the corridors of the Masterplan recognized different characteristics, such as the high industrial focus as well as agriculturally developed strength of Java, compared with the resource rich, sparsely populated islands of eastern Indonesia. Obviously, different comprehensive planning is needed for each corridor and within each corridor at a provincial level or below.

    For every community to function properly and thrive, it needs water, food, shelter and access to markets and to electricity. While heavy baseload power, usually with a coal energy base, is required for the industrial engine of Java and well-populated growth areas of Sumatra, for instance, there are many opportunities for other energy sources in other areas. For example, renewable energy could be an appropriate form as the electricity supply for many thousands of communities across the archipelago that are currently underserved or not served at all.

    Indonesia is well-blessed with a wide variety of both fossil and renewable sources of energy. With respect to renewable, the hydro potential of the country has been assessed at 76 GW and the geothermal sources at 29 GW, some 40% of the world’s reserves. While locations of supply and population demand negate the value of exploiting some of these, there still remains a large number of small to medium electricity producing projects across the archipelago from these two significant energy sources. The government has at last offered the private sector reasonable tariff structure repayment terms for mini-hydro, which can be developed to serve badly provided areas of the country.

    Work is also in hand in several places for small communities for developing micro-hydro schemes, which requires a fair amount of involvement at community empowerment level to ensure sustainable operations. More projects are needed. While there is an ambitious target to significantly increase geothermal energy output over the next decade and the terms of engagement are ostensibly improving, more work is still required to raise the risk-reward ratio for those involved in these projects. These include the companies needed for these projects along with the forestry ministry and the communities nearby the developments.

    While solar has been recognized as having a part to play in the supply of renewable power, especially for the high sunlight hours found in East Indonesia, the last administration fudged the terms and conditions that would allow private investment towards a number of likely projects that had been identified. Development has been stalled and it is hoped that the new government can resolve impediments and encourage implementation of these projects. Solar solutions are ideal for access-difficult communities, who can be trained to maintain plants once they have been built.

    Another area of renewable energy for certain communities is in the form of cultivated biomass. It is pleasing to note that some realistic projects that can also provide local community employment are being seriously worked on as a basis of contributing to renewable outputs. While use of coal is essential to support the main industrial areas, the support for renewables for the development of the outer corridors must be encouraged.