The Important Role of Renewable Energy to Build a Bright Future

Jakarta, June 24, 2023 – Raditya Yudha Wiranegara, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained several challenges in retiring PLTU and how renewable energy plays a role in shaping the future. This was discussed in the Energy Talk event held by the Hasanuddin University Society of Renewable Energy (SRE).

Raditya, or mostly referred to as Radit, opened the discussion session by explaining that human activities, especially in the energy sector, are the main contributor to the increase in earth’s temperature. The energy source is still dominated by coal and followed by consumption of fossil fuels. Radit considered this as work to be done for Indonesia, to start making plans to reduce dependence on coal-based power plants.

Furthermore, Radit points out that Presidential Decree 112/2022 regulates the acceleration of renewable energy development, and the third article contains a mandate for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) to start making scenarios for accelerating retirement of coal power plants. There are also restrictions not to build coal fired power plants (CFPP) after this Presidential Decree is passed, except for those that are currently being planned, and those that are included in national strategic projects.

“The existing CFPP must also start reducing their emissions, until all are retired in 2045. However, this plan is still in dynamic discussion; the State Electricity Company (PLN) plans to retire CFPPs in 2030,” Radit explained.

Moreover, Radit mentioned , the benefits of early retirement from CFPPs are 2-4 times the cost that can be saved, based on an IESR study with the University of Maryland. Radit emphasized that these benefits include the benefits of health costs on air quality and reduced electricity subsidies that must be issued considering that our electricity is now subsidized. However, retiring coal-fired power plants includes several challenges, including the need for quite large upfront costs, around USD 4.6 billion by 2030 and USD 27.5 billion by 2050, which require substantial international support to achieve them. Second, USD 1.2 trillion is needed to replace PLTU electricity generation with renewable energy. Third, the legal aspect. Radit assessed that both PLN and independent power producers (IPP) have several scenarios that must be met in retiring their generators. For example, PLN needs to be investigated by an auditing agency if there is a loss to the state due to a reduction in the power plant, and the IPP can file a claim for the loss.

“From the results of the study we conducted, we found that in terms of mitigation costs, canceling the PLTU project is the most affordable option in reducing carbon emissions. Canceling will also avoid the big costs that will occur when you have to retire later, “said Radit.

Radit emphasized that with the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) momentum, Indonesia must be able to catalyze more investments and build an attractive market climate in Indonesia for foreign investors. JETP is a climate change and energy transition funding partnership from the G7 countries plus Norway and Denmark for the development of electric vehicles, technology, and the early retirement of fossil-based power plants in Indonesia. This partnership also promotes an equitable energy transition that takes into account the lives and livelihoods of affected communities at every stage of the energy transition journey, so that no one is left behind. Indonesia has received an allocation of USD 20 billion to support the energy transition in Indonesia through the JETP framework.

Youth Power for the Retirement of Coal Power Plants

Jakarta, 5 June 2023 – Youth advocacy is one of the most effective ways to promote change. Moreover, the issues must be close to heart and interesting to follow to raise awareness among youth. For instance, we can connect the topic with their passion. This is carried out by the Kpop 4 Planet youth community, which strives to fight the climate crisis by connecting it with Korean pop music (K-Pop). Departing from this common goal, the Institute Essential Services Reform (IESR) invited Kpop 4 Planet to have a casual chat on Twitter Space about coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) on Monday (5/6/2023).

Nurul Sarifah, a Kpop4Planet activist and campaign coordinator in Jakarta, and her colleague in South Korea have shared the same interest that led them to create a platform for K-pop lovers who care about the environment. Nurul explained, just like other music fans, Kpop fans are also expressive in showing their passion. So, this movement is not limited to Kpop fans. She also stated that youth has to develop awareness, especially with the real climate change impacts caused by CFPPs.

“In the year I was born, the carbon dioxide count reached 368 ppm, while now it has reached 416 ppm. It is sad to imagine that for the rest of our lives we have to experience bad air quality, and it will even get worse if we continue to use new CFPPs or we never transition to renewables” explained Nurul.

In the future, Kpop4Planet hopes that one of the South Korean car brands no longer plans to build a new CFPP with 1.1 GW capacity to mine aluminum while waiting for the new hydroelectric power plant to be used in 2029. If this demand is not met, the brand is potentially greenwashing to their consumers. 

On the other hand, regarding the urgency of retiring the CFPPs, Dr. Raditya Wiranegara, IESR senior researcher, mentioned  that the global temperature increase has now reached 1.1℃ from the threshold of 1.5℃ which could be the disaster. The emission reductions of around 19-27 gigatonnes must comply with the commitment to keep the temperature below 1.5℃. This reduction can be started by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This choice certainly has an economic impact. For example, employment and the costs required to transfer workers to new jobs will be affected. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge lies in the need for significant funding.

“The termination of CFPP operations can follow a schedule compatible with the IPCC road map. In the first stage, we need to retire 9.2 GW capacities of CFPP, followed by 21 GW of CFPP in the next period, so in 2045 we can retire 12 GW. In addition, it is also necessary to think about the generator that will replace it and the construction process so that it continues to meet energy needs. The key is in planning,” said Raditya.

At the end of the discussion, Raditya and Nurul believed in the ability of youth to change the future. Raditya emphasized the need for the younger generation to maintain enthusiasm and hone their skills to prepare themselves to welcome the clean energy era. Meanwhile, Nurul said that the younger generation could look for climate movements that suit their interests because doing what we care about and love will be a potent combo in the fight against climate change. Both hope that the government can immediately draw up a roadmap for retiring the CFPP and that youth voices will also be heard in their desire for a more livable earth.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash