Exploring Early Termination of Coal Power Plant Operations

press release

Jakarta, November 15, 2023 – The government is taking steps on Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 112/2022 concerning the Acceleration of Renewable Energy Development for Electricity Supply by drafting a road map for the operational termination of coal-fired power plants. The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) views preparing a road map for the early termination of coal power plant operations as a first step to encourage renewable energy development. Furthermore, after the road map is determined,  the government should prepare a regulatory framework that can support the implementation of a financing structure or scheme for the operational termination of coal-fired power plants in Indonesia.

Deon Arinaldo, Program Manager of Energy Transformation at IESR, mentioned that there have been several proposed structures for terminating coal-fired power plants (CFPP) operations, such as write-offs or deletion of CFPP assets from company records because they are considered no longer economical or for example, spin-offs, namely the sale of assets to a new company to manage these assets with a shorter operating period. In addition, according to him, the government needs to make several pilot projects for the termination of the ongoing CFPP operations, such as the Cirebon CFPP, as a proof of concept and provide certainty to PLN and Independent Power Producers (IPP) as CFPP asset owners.

“Apart from a clear scheme or structure in the early termination of coal-fired power plant operations, a mechanism is also needed to allocate the funding obtained from the early termination of the power plant to renewable energy plants. The current regulations in Indonesia do not allow this. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a thorough study and propose changes to allow the use of renewable energy funding, which is cost-effective, for retiring CFPP assets,” Deon said at the Enlit Asia panel discussion entitled “Leapfrogging to NZE: Accessing ASEAN readiness to retrofit or early retire coal fleets” (15/11).

Deon sees that a significant amount of work still needs to be done concerning the early retirement of CFPP. Some of the tasks include ensuring a legal framework that explicitly states that the early termination of CFPP operations is part of the country’s energy transition policy aimed at reducing emissions. Additionally, there needs to be regulations that permit modification of the power purchase agreement (PJBL) and other related tasks.

“It is even better if the strategy at the CFPP is part of an energy transition effort that wants to integrate renewable energy on a large scale to reduce GHG emissions. If the goal is like that, CFPP assets will be optimized to ensure renewable energy can enter the electricity mix quickly and cheaply. For example, instead of waiting to be retired, CFPP can be operated flexibly to help maintain system stability and reliability as the mix of intermittent solar and wind power increases,” Deon added.

The ‘Just’ Principle in Financing Just Transition in Indonesia

Johor Bahru, Malaysia, 16 November 2023 – Leading up to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, there is a growing focus on climate financing efforts. Climate financing has become a critical focus to support a fair transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

The transformation towards a low-carbon economy and financing for a just transition requires government leadership. Governments can seize opportunities in funding energy transition by ensuring the fair execution and accountability of energy transition. For instance, the funding from the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) supported by developed countries aims to expedite the energy transition. The ‘just’ aspect must take precedence in every energy transition funding agreement.

Wira Agung Swadana, the Green Economy Program Manager at the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), stated that the energy transition is not solely about closing coal-fired power plants and shifting towards renewable energy plants. Instead, a broader perspective is needed to understand the impacts that will arise from the energy transition.

“The funding for the energy transition is not solely confined to infrastructure development; rather, every aspect of a just transition should also be taken into consideration. Just transition itself is not only about the affected workforce but also involves the broader community surrounding coal mining areas,” Wira expressed during the Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2023.

Furthermore, Wira also assesses that the funding for JETP is still very limited and insufficient to meet the set targets. This funding source is still predominantly dominated by loan-based financing.

“IESR is part of the technical working group with the JETP Secretariat. JETP funding still heavily relies on loans, and some of these are not new commitments from donor countries. Only about 1.62% of what we receive comes in the form of grants for a fair transition. There’s still a shortfall in funds, which I find quite ironic. Grants need to be increased rather than relying solely on loans,” he emphasized.

The funding for energy transition should encompass a comprehensive approach, including the early retirement of coal-fired power plants, addressing coal-producing regions, increasing the use of renewable energy, and managing transitions in mining locations. Wira believes that JETP still lacks a comprehensive and holistic approach.

“The funding for energy transition should ideally serve as the starting point. Currently, Indonesia is in the process of implementing the National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN), utilizing domestic commitments and striving to align it with JETP and the Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM). The Indonesian government needs to address various challenges at the domestic, national, and international levels,” added Wira.

Tiza Mafira, Director of the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), revealed that there are debates within some financial institutions regarding financing for a just transition.

“The issue lies in debates within financial institutions about whether financing for a just transition is part of financing for energy transition. When we discuss the ‘just’ aspect, we’re talking about several critical projects within the energy transition. It’s not just a few projects but an overall significant change in the economy. If not managed properly, this will have a significant impact on a large scale,” explained Tiza.