Pojok Energi: Renewable Energy, Energy for Now and Future

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Head: IESR holds the Pojok Energy as the open forum to meet public with the actors and policy makers of energy and discuss about energy challenges in Indonesia.

As part of the Strategic Partnership for the Green and Inclusive Energy project, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) held a series of discussion namely Pojok Energy (Corner Energy). This forum discussion is intended as an open forum for the general public, businesses, associations and institutions, governments and other stakeholders to discuss about energy challenges in Indonesia. This discussion is also expected to be the tool to collect ideas, solutions, feedback and real actions for addressing the energy services for all people in Indonesia.

As the kick-off discussion, the Pojok Energy took place on Friday (10/3) and talked about utilization of renewable energy for the equitable services of energy in Indonesia. Presenting as the guest speakers in this discussion were Yunus Saefulhak, Director of Geothermal Resources, Directorate General of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR), Tri Mumppuni Chairperson of the Institute of Business and Democracy (IBEKA) and Fabby Tumiwa Director of IESR.

In his remarks Yunus said that providing energy services for all in Indonesia is still a big challenge. According to estimated data until 2016 there are 7 million households or 28 million peoples in Indonesia who do not have any access to energy. Ironically, Indonesia is one of resource countries in the world that has various power energy sources, both derived from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, and renewable energy such as solar, wind, water and geothermal.

“Although we are abundance with renewable energy resources, but the utilization is still limited, until recently it just reached 6% of the total energy mix. The potentials for renewable energy are scattered in various areas and can be used for energy supply in many areas, especially in the remote and isolated areas, ” said Yunus.

Developing renewable energy in Indonesia still a big challenge as there are still some different mindset in many stakeholders, including how to create the business model and incentive scheme. Therefore the prices for renewable is not so economic for the producers as well as for consumers. Yunus said by having discussion in Pojok energy where public can meet with other stakeholders it is helpful to to discuss about energy issues and how to overcome challenges.

Nevertheless, the government is still committed to achieve the target of renewable energy of 23% in 2025. Recently government released the regulation to boost the development of power generation from renewable energy power. Several targets have been achieved including increasing of more than 200 MW of power generating capacity of geothermal power (PTLP) and the increasing development of solar power and micro power / MH (micro / mini-hydro) for their feed-in-tariffs are more competitive.

Tri Mumpuni also shared her a 20-year experience of empowering rural communities to build a micro hydro power plant (MHP). According to Tri Mumpuni, top-down approach that is often used by the government should be paired with a bottom-up approach, where the community is involved and developed the capacity to manage the MHP in their villagea.

Geographical challenges also often become the reason for lack of access to electricity to many villages in Indonesia, because the electrical connection to villages inaccessible considered uneconomical.

“Although these villages have geographical constraints, but actually they have many renewable energy potentials that can be exploited,” said Tri.

Therefore, Tri is always eager to work with the community to take advantage of renewable energy such as MHP.

“People can serve as capital owners, operators, and beneficiaries. By involving the community, the MHP will be the “property rights” of theirs. Operating and maintenance completely done by themselves with the training of engineers, and electricity that can be sold to PLN back to the community for educational costs and improving the economy, “he said

While IESR Executive Director Fabby Tumiwa shared his presentation of swapping the power subsidy to the development of home-based solar panel (PV rooftop). So far the government should spend a budget of Rp. 29 trillion annually as the subsidy for PLN customers in household category with an electric capacity of 450 VA. These subsidies can actually be diverted to build PV rooftop to poor households.

In other words, the government does not need to seek funding to develop renewable energy, but simply shift funds subsidies. By shifting the 10-12% of the electricity subsidy for rooftop PV development, the burden of the state budget subsidies for R1-450 VA will decrease. Within a period of four years after the program began, there is a projected 1 million household electricity customers who have PV rooftop R1-450VA with an individual capacity of 1 kWp on-grid, equivalent to the total installed capacity of 1 GW.

This discussion forum then continued questions from the participants. Questions that arise were also varied, ranging from how the government encourages the ideal conditions for the development of renewable energy for the private sector, how best practice from experience YPB to convince PLN to buy electricity from PLMTH, to what the role of consumers to increase the utilization of renewable energy.

The interesting session of this discussion is when participants shared their questions and experiences. As a policy maker, Yunus Saefulhak accommodated inputs provided by participants coming from the private sector and of civil society organizations. According to him, the role and views of various stakeholders is needed to encourage the development of renewable energy that is effective and appropriate. For example about how the government should consider the motives encourage the use of renewable energy vs. encourage domestic production through local content regulations and related financial incentives to create a more conducive investment climate.

Tri also shared her experience how to make renewable energy suitable for people living in the city and how her journey to convince PLN to finally receive electricity from one of the villages that use the MHP. In addition to the roles of policy makers and the private sector, community engagement and consumer awareness are also key to improving the utilization of renewable energy.

Fabby Tumiwa of IESR conclude this Pojok Energy discussion with emphasis on the need for such a discussion platform to increase understanding of the various parties on the issue of energy in Indonesia and as a forum for exchange of opinions, thoughts, and ideas to jointly resolve the energy challenges in Indonesia. Energy Corner Discussion Series will be held regularly and supported by Hivos Southeast Asia, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) and the Coalition of Women Indonesia (KPI) as an institution partners Strategic Partnership for Clean and Inclusive Energy.