Nusa Penida: From Natural Beauty to Energy Independence

Alvin Putra Sisdwinugraha, Analis Sistem Ketenagalistrikan dan Energi Terbarukan

Jakarta, March 28, 2024 – Nusa Penida, a beautiful island in the southeast of Bali, Indonesia, is undergoing extensive transformation to adopt renewable energy sources. With its stunning natural beauty, Nusa Penida will transform into an island that relies entirely on renewable energy sources. Given the challenges posed by global climate change, it is crucial to take measures to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmental sustainability.

Alvin Putra Sisdwinugraha, an Electricity System and Renewable Energy Analyst at the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), has explained that Nusa Penida was selected as an island with 100% renewable energy for three primary reasons. Firstly, the island has an abundance of renewable energy potential. Secondly, its geographical location is separated from mainland Bali. And thirdly, the development of green tourism provides economic potential.

“To achieve 100% renewable energy in Nusa Penida, three stages of implementation can be carried out over the next six years (starting from 2024). The first stage, from 2024 to 2027, will focus on maximizing the potential of rooftop power plants (PLTS) to reduce diesel consumption during the day. Currently, the Nusa Penida electricity system is still reliant on diesel power plants (PLTD), which will be gradually phased out as the implementation progresses,” said Alvin in the X Space entitled Towards Nusa Penida 100% Renewable Energy

The second phase, continued Alvin, began to place PLTD as a backup plan in 2027-2029 and explore other renewable energy sources, such as biomass. According to Alvin, Gamal plants in Nusa Penida can become a source of biomass power plants (PLTBm). The final stage will focus on optimizing other renewable energy plants like biodiesel and ocean currents and building pumped hydro energy storage in 2029-2030.

“It is possible to create an island that runs entirely on renewable energy sources, and this can be achieved through a step-by-step process. For instance, we can start with small-scale projects such as Nusa Penida Island by 2030. We also encourage the decarbonization of Bali’s electricity system to make Bali a sustainable and eco-friendly destination for all,” Alvin said. 

Ida Ayu Dwi Giriantari, the Center of Excellence Community Based Renewable Energy (CORE) Chairperson at Udayana University, mentioned that Nusa Penida was previously known for seaweed farming before its development as a tourist destination. The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) has designated a seaweed cultivation zone covering approximately 464 hectares, and this area can produce up to nine kiloliters of seaweed daily. However, out of the 20,000 hectares of land or water suitable for seaweed planting, only 70 hectares are currently in use.

“Nusa Penida, a community that was once focused on traditional industries, has shifted its economic orientation to the tourism sector. Seaweed has emerged as a promising source of bioenergy, including biogas, bioethanol, and biodiesel. To fully utilize this potential, proper management of seaweed farming is necessary. Seaweed farmers in Nusa Penida must be aware of the renewable energy potential of seaweed and take appropriate steps to manage their farms effectively,” said Ida Ayu. 

In reflecting on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ida Ayu mentioned that many destinations within the tourism industry suffered significant losses. As such, there has been a growing need for sustainable economic resilience, and one viable option is cultivating seaweed. Currently, there are several conditions where the harvested seaweed, for example, has only been processed into laundry soap, bath soap, crackers, drinks, and so on. Even more, farmers sell it directly after harvest.

“When people realize the economic value that can be gained from seaweed farming, it is more likely to be adopted. Besides seaweed, Jatropha curcas also has the potential to be used as an energy source. Based on my research, approximately 20% of the total 4,000 hectares of land on Nusa Penida Island can be utilized for growing Jatropha curcas,” said Ida Ayu. 

Ida Ayu provided a pertinent example wherein a 25% allotment of land, approximately 1,000 hectares, dedicated to Jatropha cultivation can yield a biodiesel output between 540-680 liters per hectare. Jatropha is a shrub-like plant found in tropical regions. Its seeds contain oil, which can be processed into biodiesel.