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IESR: Renewable Energy Portion in “Green” RUPTL Could Be Bigger

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Jakarta, 14 October 2021Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) appreciates the government’s commitment to making an energy transition towards decarbonization in 2060 or earlier by issuing the PLN 2021-2030 Electricity Supply Business Plan  (RUPTL), which has a larger portion of renewable energy generation. The government claims that this RUPTL is the greenest because it contains a portion of new and renewable energy generation capacity (EBT) of 51.6% or 20.923 MW in 2030. However, the 2021-2030 RUPTL still indicates the dependence of fossil energy on the energy system in Indonesia.

Pamela Simamora, IESR Research Coordinator who is also the main author of the Deep decarbonization of Indonesia’s energy system study, believes that the 2021-2030 RUPTL still shows a small renewable energy electricity mix, which is only 24.8% in 2030. This means that from 2025 to 2030, the increase in the renewable energy mix was only 1.8%. This number is much lower than the target mix increase from 2021 to 2025 which is 8% (from 15% today to 23% in 2025).

“The renewable energy mix should be higher in 2030 considering that the price of renewable energy in that year is predicted to be more competitive than fossil energy,” she says.

Indonesia itself has declared to achieve decarbonization by 2060 or earlier. IESR Executive Director, Fabby Tumiwa said that the target will be realized if, by 2030, around 70% of power generation capacity or around 80-85 GW comes from renewable energy so that energy sector emissions can reach their peak in 2030.

“To achieve this mix, it is necessary to reduce fossil energy generating capacity to open up more space for renewable energy plants to be included in the electricity system. The reduction in thermal generating capacity must be followed by the development of renewable energy. With this need, renewable energy in 2022-2025 should ideally reach 25-30 GW and accelerate to 45-50 GW from 2025 to 2030, in line with the plan for early retirement of PLTU, “he explains.

Responding to the government’s plan in the 2030 RUPTL to retire 1.1 GW of subcritical steam power plants in Muara Karang, Tanjung Priok, Tambak Lorok, and Gresik by 2030, the Transformation Energy Program Manager, Deon Arinaldo assessed that this step is still following the business as a usual plan because the PLTU is entering retirement age.

Moreover, the government’s intention to maintain fossil fuels by co-firing biomass at PLTU will set a greater risk of stranded assets and the environment when compared to focusing on developing renewable energy such as solar energy. PLN has even identified challenges such as the sustainability of the required biomass supply of 8-14 million tons per year, the impact on the efficiency of the power plant, and the increase in the basic cost of electricity supply.

On the other hand, RUPTL 2030 has also planned the development of electricity interconnection within islands and between islands to improve electricity reliability and distribute new renewable energy whose sources are far from load centers. The government targets that by 2024 the interconnection within the islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi has been accomplished in the super grid system to overcome the oversupply in a large system. The government is also reviewing the development of the interconnection network between Sumatra-Java and Bali-Lombok. Referring to the study of Deep decarbonization of Indonesia’s energy system, this within-island, and inter-island interconnection network plan is a good thing and should be monitored for its development.

Furthermore, the development of varied renewable energy (VRE), especially solar energy, is focused on three strategies: solar PV for rural electricity, de-dieselization, and network connection (both PLN and IPP). However, de-dieselization by converting diesel power plants to solar PV equipped with a battery with a total capacity of 1.2 GWp is only intended for isolated systems that are not possible to be connected to PLN transmission.

“If it is intended to encourage a more aggressive penetration of renewable energy, the use of local renewable energy, either solar or other renewable energy sources, should be the main strategy for providing energy access, not a substitute, and must concentrate on to aspects of sustainability and reliability,” said Marlistya Citraningrum, Manager Sustainable Energy Access Program, IESR

Besides, the target of 4.7 GW of PV mini-grid by 2030 listed in the latest RUPTL does not reflect the much larger potential and pipeline project of PV mini-grid. The Scaling Up Solar in Indonesia report even shows that it requires at least 18 GW until 2025 to realize the target of 23% of the renewable energy mix. Meanwhile, according to the IESR Deep decarbonization of Indonesia’s energy system study to pursue emission-free Indonesia in 2050, 107 GW of solar PV is needed in 2030 with a storage system.

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