Preparing for the Energy Transition in South Sumatra

Palembang, May 29, 2024 – The climate crisis has increased natural disasters, including floods, droughts, and more frequent extreme weather. Addressing the root cause, dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal, is essential to mitigating these disasters. According to an IEA study, over 95% of global coal consumption occurs in countries committed to reducing emissions.

Marlistya Citraningrum, Program Manager for Sustainable Energy Access, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained that fossil energy produces significant emissions. These emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, which causes the earth’s temperature to rise over time. Given these conditions, it is necessary to transition to renewable energy to replace fossil energy. 

“In the transition process, there will automatically be a shift in the use of fossil energy, including coal. This will impact coal-producing regions, considering that the coal sector drives the energy sector and the economy. This means that we need to anticipate the impact of the energy transition in the coal sector so as not to make people miserable,” said Marlistya in the Palembang Morning Dialogue on Energy Transition in Coal Producing Areas at RRI Pro1 Palembang on Wednesday (29/5/2024).

Marlistya emphasized that when encouraging energy transition in coal-producing areas, diversification and transformation of the economy are also necessary to anticipate the social and economic impacts of the coal industry’s decline. According to IESR’s study, Marlistya confidently stated that the leading sector in Muara Enim Regency, South Sumatra, is accommodation and food services, demonstrating superior performance compared to surrounding areas and playing a pivotal role in encouraging economic transformation.

“When planning for energy transition, it is also inseparable from the renewable energy potential of a region. For example, the potential for renewable energy in South Sumatra is high, especially biomass, because many agricultural and plantation wastes can be utilized. For example, the utilization of rice husks to generate electricity, so no rice husk waste can potentially disturb the environment,” Marlistya said. 

In addition, Marlistya mentioned solar energy is also a potential renewable energy to be utilized in South Sumatra because solar power plants (solar PV) are easy to install. Large-scale solar PV (above 10 MW) requires a large area of land. However, there are also solar PV that do not require large areas of land, such as rooftop solar PV with a capacity of several kWp to as small as a table lamp and power bank. 

Aryansyah, Head of the Energy Division, Energy and Mineral Resources Agency (ESDM) of South Sumatra Province, said that around 20 percent of local revenue in South Sumatra depends on the coal sector, so the implementation of energy transition needs to be done carefully. Aryansyah stated that the community’s right to energy is also its right. For this reason, the delivery to the community must also be done clearly so as not to cause panic.

“To socialize this energy transition, the government also collaborates with non-governmental institutions such as IESR through the Jelajah Energi South Sumatra program held some time ago. We invite young people, academics, and journalists to see renewable energy plants firsthand. We also collaborate with incoming investors to encourage the utilization of renewable energy. Based on data from the Energy and Mineral Resources Office of South Sumatra, South Sumatra Province has the technical potential for renewable energy reaching 21,032 MW,” said Aryansyah.