Jakarta Post: Indonesia sees growing opportunities in green jobs

Jul, 15 2019

Penulis :

Istu Septania | The Jakarta Post
Jakarta   / Mon, July 15 2019   / 02:46 am

Finding solutions: Jannata Giwangkara (second left) talks to his colleagues at a local energy think tank, the Institute for Essential Services Reform. (Courtesy of the Institute for Essential Services Reform)

The alternative energy sector is poised to experience strong growth in Indonesia, meaning it can create more jobs.

Remote villages without access to electricity have to stop working as soon as the sun sets. The economy grows slowly and technology that helps make life easier is urgently needed. There, renewable energy is a life hack, offering cleaner and cheaper electricity to the poor.

On Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Resco Sumba Terang is a savior, a start-up that provides electricity from solar panels and maintains the equipment.

“Solar energy equipment from foreign donors or the [Indonesian] government is often broken after about two years,” says Jetty Arlenda Maro, Resco Sumba Terang’s technical coordinator. “So we’re there to maintain the solar [power] system.”

Jetty and her colleagues have to travel across the remote island, riding off-road motorcycles.

Resco Sumba Terang builds solar kiosks in far-flung locations, allowing the rural residents to enjoy TV programs and keep their cell phones adequately charged. The start-up also installs solar-powered rice and corn mills.

Another company that focuses on providing renewable energy to secluded areas is Weston Energy. Among the places Weston has provided electricity are Sumba and Jember in East Java and Palu in Central Sulawesi.

To address the communication and lighting challenges, Weston seeks to sell portable solar kits consisting of a radio, a charging station, a flashlight and two lamps.

Established in 2018, Weston Energy is seizing the opportunity of the emerging renewable industry in Indonesia. As a profitable start-up, the company has to find the right business scheme and determine the right market in the costly sustainable energy sector.

Jetty and her colleagues have to travel across the remote island, riding off-road motorcycles.

Resco Sumba Terang builds solar kiosks in far-flung locations, allowing the rural residents to enjoy TV programs and keep their cell phones adequately charged. The start-up also installs solar-powered rice and corn mills.

Another company that focuses on providing renewable energy to secluded areas is Weston Energy. Among the places Weston has provided electricity are Sumba and Jember in East Java and Palu in Central Sulawesi.

To address the communication and lighting challenges, Weston seeks to sell portable solar kits consisting of a radio, a charging station, a flashlight and two lamps.

Established in 2018, Weston Energy is seizing the opportunity of the emerging renewable industry in Indonesia. As a profitable start-up, the company has to find the right business scheme and determine the right market in the costly sustainable energy sector.

Light up: Jetty Arlenda Maro, a technical coordinator at a local solar start-up, Resco Sumba Terang, works on a project to build a solar kiosk in a village on Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara. (Courtesy of Hivos)

“We mostly handle clean energy-related projects from corporate social responsibility programs,” says Rick Firmando, Weston Energy’s green project manager. Besides providing electricity, the company also sells solar products and raises money through crowdfunding.

Resco Sumba Terang and Weston Energy are among a growing number of start-ups in the clean energy industry in Indonesia.

With the Indonesian government’s Low Carbon Development Initiative (LCDI), which aims to reduce carbon emissions, Indonesia expects to see 15.3 million more green jobs by 2045, according to the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).

The government has set a target of renewable sources contributing 23 percent of the national energy mix by 2025, while the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has pledged to seek investors in the development of renewable resources.

The green sector offers jobs in various fields. A clean energy think tank and advocate, the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), for instance, analyzes the shift from coal to lower carbon sources in Indonesia. To mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, many countries are adopting renewable energy technologies and seeing an economic change in the energy sector caused by the clean energy transition.

As it is still a new thing, shifting to clean energy in Indonesia faces major challenges, says IESR program manager Jannata Giwangkara, which make the job more fun.

“Working in a think tank enables me to learn about advanced technologies,” Jannata says. “Now I can talk about technicalities and discuss what approaches will work best for shifting from dirty to clean energy.”

What’s urgent: Jetty Arlenda Maro (right) works at a local solar start-up, Resco Sumba Terang, to bring electricity to remote villages across Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara. As a solar engineer, Jetty and her team are responsible for installing and maintaining solar panels. (Courtesy of Jetty Arlenda Maro)

Energy transition can be a complex affair, requiring a lot of research and preparation. Most of the existing power plants are fired by fossil fuels and some of them are old enough to retire. Energy think tanks like IESR conduct various kinds of research to ensure a smooth and sustainable energy transition.

The researchers need to calculate how many fossil fuel-fired power plants would have to retire soon and predict if they can be replaced by renewable sources. They also need to check if renewables are able to meet the demand for electricity in the region and if there is a transmission system to carry the power.

“[We need the data] to minimize unfavorable outcomes from the clean energy transition,” says Jannata, who oversees researchers at IESR.

The plausible jobs in clean energy are not confined to those with engineering and energy expertise only, Jannata highlights. Other fields of expertise would still enable people to enter the green workforce.

Economists, for example, can help prevent fossil fuel companies from becoming stranded assets in the lower-carbon economy. They can also predict the economic impacts if more people switch to renewables, especially in regions like East Kalimantan, the economy of which relies heavily on coal and other extractive industries.

As renewables continue to attract attention, more government regulations are created. Energy policy experts can also take a role by guiding interested investors and making an evaluation of the renewable energy policies.

People majoring in green banking can help independent power producers get funding to build renewable-energy power plants. Jannata notes that it is crucial for bankers to understand how to assess the requirements and analyze the possibilities of the clean energy sector in order to develop clean energy start-ups. 

However, to stand out from other applicants, candidates can demonstrate an interest in renewables by enhancing their résumés. “It will be very helpful if they’ve done academic research or written articles about the environment and clean energy,” Jannata says.

This article originally published on The Jakarta Post

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