We Discover Indonesia has Higher Technical Potential of Solar Energy, IESR Encourages the Government to Update Renewable Energy Potential Data

March 18, 2021 — Indonesia has a higher solar power technical potential than 207 GW, which the official data released by the Indonesian government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in 2017. Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), in collaboration with the Global Environmental Institute (GEI), presented the result of their research in the launching of the study Beyond 207 Gigawatts: Unleashing Indonesia’s Solar Potential (18/3). 

Fabby Tumiwa, Executive Director of IESR, in his speech explained that based on technical potential and land suitability, solar power in Indonesia could reach 3000-20,000 GWp.

“If the minimum technical potential, 3 GW, is utilized effectively, it can meet 7 (seven) times the electricity consumption of 2018,” he said.

IESR measures this technical potential using geospatial data, therefore suitable land for PV mini-grid can be identified.

Fabby added that this study recommends the government update data sources on renewable energy for providing a better signal for developing solar energy in the future.

“Indeed, it will also increase the confidence of various parties involved in solar energy development that Indonesia can rely on solar power to meet clean energy needs. Besides, this study supports PLN’s efforts to develop solar power and local governments in implementing the Regional Energy General Plan, ”he said.

At the global level, the Indonesian government can use the data to strengthen its commitment to global climate action, as stated by Jiaman Jin, Executive Director of GEI. GEI, in particular, has a program to assist developing countries in developing renewable energy by providing capacity building, technical and financial assistance.

“China and countries in Southeast Asia have collaborated on a global climate action program, including Indonesia. To achieve the Paris Agreement, today, about 29 countries have targeted carbon neutrality by relying on renewable energy. Other tools to be carbon neutral are carbon storage and carbon trading (carbon credit). These two things are also what China is currently developing, “he explained.

To achieve its commitments under the Paris Agreement, Indonesia is trying to reach the target of 23% renewable energy mix by 2025. Nevertheless, until the end of 2020, only 11.5% was realized. Meanwhile, in the National Energy General Plan (RUEN) itself, the government has a target for solar power development of 6.5 GW by 2025.

“However, the target is currently under review, and it turns out that solar (photovoltaic (PV)) is targeted to represent a third (17.6 GW) of the total net power generation of 48 GW by 2035 in the national energy grand strategy prepared by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the National Energy Council (DEN). About 60 or 76 percent are expected to come from utility-scale solar power including floating solar PV, “said Daniel Kurniawan, Lead Author of the Study Report” Beyond 207 Gigawatts: Unleashing Indonesia’s Solar Potential “.

Daniel explained that out of 23 types of land cover, the IESR research team chose the suitable land type for PLTS development. Only 9 (nine) types of land cover were selected for mapping the technical potential of the PV mini-grid.

“Man-made forest and dry agricultural land mixed with shrubs are also included in the calculated land types, which is why these three lands were found to be acquired in the development of the solar power plant 3 x 7 MWp project, in Lombok and the solar power plant 21 MWp project in Likupang. North Sulawesi, “he explained.

Using the most optimistic scenario, 9 (nine) types of land cover covering an area of ​​1.9 million km2, the results obtained from the calculation of the technical potential of PLTS are very abundant, reaching 19.8 TWp, which is 95 times higher than the government’s estimate.

“The greatest technical potential is in Kalimantan, Sumatra, West Java, and East Java,” explained Daniel.

Moreover, talking about the General Plan for Electricity Supply (RUPTL) (2021-2030) that is being drafted by PLN, Daniel explained that until today, there is no definite information regarding the allocation of the target capacity for solar power from a total of 3.7 GW of a combined capacity plan for power solar, water, and garbage in the upcoming RUPTL.

Technical Potential Data Will Motivate Optimization of Solar Power Plant Development

Furthermore, the latest technical potential study data launched by the IESR can also be used by local governments to optimize renewable energy development. Daniel gave an example of Bali and Sumba as two islands in Indonesia that already have sufficient capital in terms of the consistency of the local government in encouraging the use of solar power through the policies they issued and also have higher technical potential of solar power.

Director of Various New Energy and Renewable Energy of Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR), Chrisnawan Anditya, on the same occasion, said that his party would update the data on the technical potential of solar power in Indonesia.

“Further, we are also trying to identify the sun’s potential according to the transmission line. The better the transmission line, the bigger the solar power plant development. However, if the location is outside the transmission line, we will develop it through off-grid, “said Chrisnawan.

Having comparable perception with Chrisnawan, the Executive Vice President of the New and Renewable Energy Division of PLN, Cita Dewi, said that PLN is committed to increasing the development of renewable energy. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PLN is still dealing with conditions of low demand for electrical energy.  

“The demand crisis is likely to last 2 to 3 years. However, our approach to pursuing renewable energy targets includes accelerating the completion of solar, hydro, geothermal power generation and considering converting 5,000 diesel power plants to solar. The potential of solar after converting is 2 GW, “said Cita.

From the developer side, Andhika Prastawa, Chairman of the Indonesian Solar Energy Association (AESI), said that the results of the study are beneficial for developers to explore more opportunities to invest in solar PV in Indonesia. Notwithstanding, according to him, this must still be in line with the government’s support in establishing friendly policies for solar PV developers.

“The economy of solar PV is already competitive, but until now the net metering regulation is still at 6.5, it should be changed to 1, so that it has a good psychological impact on the solar PV market,” Andhika added.

Agreeing with Andhika, Herman Darnel Ibrahim, a member of the National Energy Council hopes that there will be reforms in the net metering policy. He also emphasized that in terms of installation, solar PV is the easiest renewable energy to develop because it is available in almost all places in Indonesia, so it is easy to harvest in the form of the solar power plant, and has various scales so that it is quickly built.

Wirawan, Acting President Director, PT PJB Investasi appreciated the results of the IESR study and offered to calculate the technical potential of about 192 dams and reservoirs spread across Indonesia.

“The water catchment area in Indonesia is approximately 86 thousand hectares. This is also a huge potential for the development of floating solar, “he suggested.

IESR: Indonesia Can Achieve Carbon Neutrality Before 2060

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Jakarta, 25 March 2021 – In an effort to fulfil the mandate of the Paris Agreement, the Government Indonesia through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) as the national focal point for the UNFCCC, announcing a Long-Term Strategy for Reducing Carbon Emissions and Climate Resilience 2050 (Long-term Strategy on Low Carbon and Climate Resilience (LTS-LCCR) 2050. This meeting was also attended by the relevant ministries. Despite positive progress, the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) looking at Indonesia’s road map towards low carbon by 2050, as showcased in the presentation of the LTS-LCCR 2050 document, was less ambitious and did not meet the target
Paris Agreement.
Several things listed in the LTS-LCCR 2050 document:
  1. The achievement of Indonesia’s first NDC is targeted in 2030, then Indonesia will achieve net-zero emission by 2070;
  2. In mitigation efforts, the LCCP scenario (low carbon scenario compatible with Paris Agreement target) indicates an ambitious target to be implemented in the AFOLU sector (agriculture, forestry and land use), energy, industrial processes and uses products (IPPU), as well as waste;
  3. On a low carbon and climate-resilient policy direction, it is estimated Indonesia will reach the highest peak (peaking) in GHG emissions by 2030 in AFOLU and energy sectors before finally reaching net zero emissions by 2070. In the calculation of emissions, the peak in 2030 will reach 1163 million tons and these emissions will decrease to around 766 million tonnes of CO2e by 2050;
  4. For the energy sector, a transition scenario and LCCP will be an option to be applied. In the more ambitious LCCP target, the primary energy mix will be 34% coal, gas 25%, oil 8%, renewables 33% in 2050. The use of coal will decrease to 205 million tonnes (293 million tonnes of coal);
  5. Additional renewables for generators of around 38 GW in 2035 and will be prioritized for Solar Power Generation due to the increasing investment costs low. In addition, emission reduction will be encouraged through the following actions:
    1. Provision of electricity through EBT generators,
    2. Application of energy efficiencies such as in buildings and public street lighting (PJU),
    3. Use of Biofuels;
    4. Implementation of biomass co-firing to reduce coal consumption in 52 PLTUs,
    5. Utilization of electric vehicles with a target of 2 million cars and 13 million motorbikes in 2030,
    6. Transitions towards low-carbon fuels and clean generation technologies such as the use of CCUS / CCS ( carbon capture, utilization and storage/carbon capture and storage ) and hydrogen
Responding to the explanation regarding Indonesia LTS-LCCR 2050, IESR responded as follows:
  1. IESR responded positively to the peak emission target in 2030. This will provide clear medium-term targets for climate change mitigation action plans in Indonesia. However, it needs clarity regarding the support of policies and regulations that allows each sector to transition quickly and reach the peak emission by 2030;
  2. The achievement of net-zero emissions in 2070 is too long and does not match the Paris Agreement. To be consistent with the Paris Agreement and support restrictions on global temperature (below 1.5°C), then Indonesia’s GHG emissions must have decreased reach 622 million tonnes of CO2e in 2030 (excluding the AFOLU sector) and will reach net-zero in 2050 1 ;
  3. A stronger effort is required, especially to be able to shift from the use of coal. Indonesia needs to gradually stop using coal by 2037 and increase its renewable energy target to at least 50% by 2030 2 ;
  4. Each sector needs to establish mitigation measures that is credible, transparent, and measurable in order to be on track with the Paris Agreement. Based on several global modelling, such as Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project, Energy Watch Group/LUT University, there are several parameters that could be a reference for Indonesia in measuring the suitability of the achievement of GHG emission reduction with Paris Agreement targets.

For the electricity and transportation sector, parameters among others3 :
a. Electricity

    1. The intensity of emissions from the electricity sector; should be in the 50-255 range gCO2 / kWh in 2030 and  in 2050
    2. The renewable energy mix of electricity generation; up to 50-85% in 2030 and 98-100% in 2050
    3. Electricity generation mix from coal PLTU; down to 5-10% by 2030

      1. Emission intensity from the land passenger transportation sector; be in the range of 25-30 g CO2/pkm by 2030
      2. Low-carbon fuel mix; reaching 20-25% of the total energy demand in the transportation sector by 2030

5. The IESR study on Indonesia’s energy transition scenario shows that Indonesia can achieve a primary mix of renewable energy of 69% by 2050 with increase the capacity of renewable energy generation to a minimum of 24 GW in the year 2025, build 408-450 GW of renewable energy generation by 2050, and stop the construction of a new coal power plant since 2025 and retire Coal Power Plant early.

6. There is a need for increased investment and research encouragement towards innovation and development of renewable energy technologies such as hydrogen in order to be immediately implemented and optimized for achieving net zero-emission.
7. IESR supports the use of sustainable biofuels and electric vehicles. The Climate Transparency Report 2020 makes clear that biofuels are sustainable that does not leave a carbon footprint, the use of electric vehicles, and stricter fuel efficiency standards would reduce GHG emissions in particular from the transport sector significantly. In addition, the percentage of fuel that is low in carbon in the transport fuel mix should increase to about 60% in year 2050.

CAT (nd). Indonesia country summary
2 Climate Transparency (2020) .The Climate Transparency Report 2020
3 CAT (2020). Paris Agreement Compatible Sectoral Benchmark
4 IESR (2020). National Energy General Plan (RUEN): Existing Plan, Current Policies Implication and Energy Transition