ASEAN is Still Relying on Fossil Fuel yet Has the Opportunities to Transform its Energy System

Jakarta, 9 February 2022 – ASEAN is one of the most populated regions in which the economy is growing and energy demand grows rapidly. Economic growth emerged at time when there was a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To maintain economic development and energy demand growth, a cleaner energy system should be developed by the government. The current situation shows that Southeast Asia’s energy system still relies on fossil fuels i.e coal. 

To identify the challenges and opportunities, representatives of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam present in Energy Transition Dialogue hosted by Australia National University in Collaboration with CASE (Clean, Affordable, and Secure Energy) for the Southeast Asia project on Wednesday, 9 February 2022. 

Sirpa Jarvenpaa from the Energy Transition Partnership highlighted that if the policies continue as they are (business as usual) the economy and energy growth in Southeast Asia will at the same time pollute the region as well as the world. She also emphasized the importance of knowledge for policy makers in order to establish strong commitment.

“Ambitious climate projects founded in knowledge so we need to encourage the business sector to make those investments in energy transition, and for the government to create conducive investment environments, as well as streamlining regulatory and legal framework,” she said.

Sirpa added that Southeast Asia needs to ramp up investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to ensure a clean and healthy future for the region and the world.

Though 8 of 10 countries in the region have already announced their net-zero target, the earliest 2050 and latest 2065 – coal-fired power plant generation is still expanding in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It means that greenhouse gas emissions for the Southeast Asia region are yet to peak.

Fabby Tumiwa, Executive Director of Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained that there are a set of challenges for reaching net-zero emissions in the region such as policy, grid, and regional market integration, as well as non-technical issues related to perception and knowledge sharing. Long-term energy planning still relies on fossils even though policy says to reduce fossil usage. 

“Fossil fuels are still considered as the main components of energy security, and renewables continue to be perceived as unreliable and expensive,” Fabby explained. 

Fabby also stressed out the ‘just transition’ aspect as a thing to be kept in mind especially to regions heavily reliant on the coal industry.  East Kalimantan, for instance, is one of the biggest coal producers provinces in Indonesia. When the global coal price declines to below USD 40/ton, its GDP growth halts and it affects other sectors. 

“We need to identify a way in order a province’s economy will not crash once there is a massive transformation and coal is no longer needed,” he said.

Frank Jotzo from Australia National University added that the development of clean energy technology results in the declining cost of renewables installation such as solar and wind, making the transformation feasible. 

“Yet, there are also challenges like how to mobilize large energy systems investments, ensuring the transition is technically successful, and how to maximize economic opportunities, and minimize social disruption,” Frank reminded.

In 2022, Indonesia Needs to Strive in Pursuing Energy Transition Ecosystem Readiness

press release

Jakarta, 21 December 2021 –  The unfavorable climate for renewable energy investment in Indonesia and inconsistent political commitments can hinder the achievement of the 23% renewable energy mix target by 2025. Until Q3 2021, the renewable energy mix is ​​still at 11.2%. The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) views that the Indonesian government needs to thoughtfully prepare an energy transition ecosystem to accelerate the decarbonization of the energy system in Indonesia to achieve net-zero by 2050.

In 2021, renewable energy development in Indonesia is still running slowly and not on track to the target of 23% of the renewable energy mix in 2025. IESR, in its annual report Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook 2022, found that until September 2021, the total installed capacity of renewable energy only reached 10,827 MW or increased by about 400 MW. Meanwhile, to achieve the KEN and RUEN targets in 2025, renewable energy generating capacity is estimated to reach a minimum of 24,000 MW or around 2-3 GW of additional renewable energy capacity every year. However, to comply with the Paris Agreement, it takes at least 11-13 GW of renewable energy generation to decarbonize the energy system in Indonesia, which includes the power generation, transportation, and industrial sectors by 2050. Besides, solar energy adoption is also relatively insignificant, only increasing by 18 MW, dominated by rooftop solar power plants. It is so slow compared to the need for 10-11 GW of rooftop PV mini-grid each year to encourage zero emissions by 2045 in the electricity sector. IESR views PV mini-grid as an opportunity to maximize the contribution of the community and business entities to invest in the decarbonization process.

Endeavors to decarbonize the transportation system by adopting electric vehicles and biofuels are still far from the target set. Sales of electric vehicles are still below 1% of total vehicle sales. Only about 2,000 electric cars and 5,000 electric motorcycles are registered, while the total number of electric cars and motorcycles needs to reach 1.7 million and 100 million by 2030. Biofuels are still limited to biodiesel development which is still uneconomical and constrained by sustainability issues. The implementation of B40, previously B30, which is planned for 2022 is also considered as a constraint due to the current price of palm oil.

“The government should focus on strengthening its political commitment to decarbonization by revising the National Energy Policy (KEN) and the General National Energy Plan (RUEN) to align with the goals of Net-Zero Emissions (NZE). The government needs to improve the quality of regulations to increase investment attractiveness, reduce licensing barriers, and accelerate the development and utilization of renewable energy outside PLN by maximizing the contribution of the community and business entities to invest in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency. Thus, 23% of the renewable energy mix in 2025 can be achieved,” said IESR Executive Director, Fabby Tumiwa.

The decarbonization of the energy system in Indonesia requires the readiness of a supportive ecosystem. The Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook 2022 report assesses that its enabling ecosystem is still low. Using the Energy Transition Readiness Framework, IESR evaluates four indicators, i.e. policy and regulatory support, technology and economy, climate and investment realization, and social.

Ineffective energy policy and regulatory support in boosting the development of renewable energy in Indonesia are reflecting the government’s insufficient political commitment to renewable energy. Although in 2021, the government is committed to increasing the share of the renewable energy mix to 51% in the Electricity Supply Business Plan (RUPTL) and reviewing early retirement at 9.2 GW of coal-fired power plants, these efforts are not ambitious enough to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century, unaligned with Paris Agreement. Furthermore, this commitment needs to be translated into a clear implementation plan in 2022.

“Indeed, in 2021, there have been several policy documents issued such as LTS and RUPTL, but we evaluate these targets are still far from sufficient to limit the increase in the earth’s temperature to below 1.5 degree Celsius. It is important to improve several regulations such as renewable energy tariffs, scheduled and transparent auction and procurement mechanism from PLN, so that these targets can be achieved,” said Julius Christian, Clean Fuel Researcher & Specialist and Lead Author IETO 2022 report.

Energy policies in Indonesia also have not provided a sense of security for developers to invest in renewable energy. MEMR Regulation No 10/2017 leaves the risk to the developer if there is a change in government policy. ESDM Regulation No. 50/2017 drives renewable energy projects as difficult unbankable projects. More than that, the delay in issuing the Presidential Regulation on new and renewable energy tariffs has caused uncertainty and hampered investment in renewable energy projects in Indonesia.

Unfavorable policies had an insignificant impact on renewable energy investment, only reaching USD 1.17 billion compared to 2020 of USD 1.12 billion. This amount is very small compared to the investment needs for decarbonization of energy systems according to the IESR study, as much as USD 20-25 billion per year by 2030.

From a technical and economic point of view, globally, both renewable energy technology and costs have become increasingly competitive in recent years. The results of the last solar PV auction was electricity cost of USD 0.04/kWh, lower than the average coal power plant, which costs USD 0.05-0.07/kWh. The requirements for subsidies and government regulatory support for coal-fired power plants are allegedly making the cost of coal-fired power plants low. If using the actual market price, with a coal price of USD 150/ton (September 2021), the cost of generating electricity from a coal-fired power plant (CFPP) could reach USD 0.09-0.11/kWh.

Although renewable energy projects have become more economical, renewable energy investment is still considered less attractive.

“The main thing that needs to be highlighted is the unfamiliarity of local banks and investors to the risk of renewable energy projects which are lower than fossil energy projects, considering the price of technology in a declining global trend. The length of the permit process and the complexity of the procurement mechanism are also seen as two things that often make the financing costs of renewable energy projects higher than planned. These drive developers difficulties to determine the exact and definite number of investment needs to be submitted to funding institutions, “said Handriyanti D. Puspitarini, Renewable Energy Senior Researcher, IESR who is also involved in writing IETO 2022.

Meanwhile, from a social perspective, based on the results of a survey conducted by IESR on 1000 respondents, there is an increase in awareness and support for the energy transition to clean energy. A total of 56% of respondents (strongly) agree that Indonesia should stop using coal for power generation. The three highest renewable energy sources that receive the highest public support are solar (68%), water (60%), and wind (39%).

IESR in the IETO 2022 report encourages the Indonesian government to capture positive sentiments from the Indonesian people towards renewable energy through collaboration with the private sector, industry, and provincial governments in Indonesia. Several provinces in Indonesia, such as DKI Jakarta, Bali, Central Java, can serve as references and lessons for other provinces in developing a larger portion of renewable energy.

The focus in 2022 can be on policies and regulations that increase the transparency of the renewable energy auction process, identify clear risk allocation through standardization of Project-Based Learning (PJBL), and improve the bankability of renewable energy projects with derisking instruments. A more efficient and punctual licensing process and lower interest rates for project loans are also important factors for reducing initial funding costs and improving the investment climate. 

Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook 2022 report can be downloaded at: s.id/IESR_IETO2022

Indonesia’s Energy Transition Overshadowed by Government Uncertainty

Jakarta, December 21, 2021 – Closing 2021, the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) has launched its annual report entitled Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook (IETO) 2022. Since 2017, IETO – previously called Indonesia Clean Energy Outlook (ICEO), has consistently explained the development of the energy transition in Indonesia in various sectors as well as provided projections of Indonesia’s energy transition in 2022. For the second year in a row, IETO has specifically analyzed Indonesia’s energy transition readiness.

At a global level, 2021 was marked by some important events such as the Climate Summit hosted by the US president, Joe Biden, who called for the whole world to take more ambitious steps to tackle the climate crisis. The G20 Summit and COP 26 reiterated that the commitments and actions to mitigate the climate crisis of all countries are still not sufficient to suppress the increase in the global average temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius. More ambitious and aggressive climate mitigation actions are needed.

Although not yet in line with the Paris Agreement, Indonesia has begun to show a quite progressive political commitment by setting a net-zero target by 2060 or earlier, plans to retire 9.2 GW  coal-fired power plants early, and the issuance of a new RUPTL which gives the share of renewable energy up to 51.6%. According to IESR, this commitment can be seen as a breath of fresh air for the development of renewable energy in Indonesia. However, this still has not been able to accelerate Indonesia’s energy transition, and achieve the Paris Agreement target of achieving carbon neutrality by the middle of this century.

Julius Cristian, the lead author of the IETO 2022 report, saw some uncertainty from the government.

“For example, although the latest RUPTL has accommodated about 50% of renewable energy or around 20 GW when compared to the need for decarbonization which reaches 130 GW, this plan is certainly far from what is needed. In addition, the government is still relying on strategies that we think are not feasible, such as the use of nuclear and CCS which are more expensive than renewable energy,” he explained.

The IETO 2022 assesses that Indonesia is capable of achieving net-zero by 2050. To achieve this, Indonesia must reach peak emissions before 2030, and after that start reducing them. One of the implications of this is that Indonesia is no longer allowed to build CFPPs and must immediately start retiring old CFPPs.

Considering the potential and availability of resources, solar PV will be the backbone of Indonesia’s decarbonization. However, its growth in 2021 was only around 18 MW, even though the demand will reach 108 GW in 2030, or an average increase of 10 GW per year.

Handriyanti Diah Puspitarini added that there has been a slight improvement in terms of policy quality and social (public acceptance) regarding the energy transition, but commitment from the government and the renewable energy investment climate still needs a lot of improvement.

“We need to see how the implementation of various regulations that will come and have been issued will be implemented. The government must also realize that the public has begun to be aware of this issue and support the energy transition, so the government should also support this already high public support,” explained Handriyanti.

Herman Darnel Ibrahim, a member of the National Energy Council (DEN), stressed the importance of renewable energy to grow exponentially to meet electricity demand and meet international agreement targets. Although throughout 2021 there is a momentum for growing awareness to transition Indonesia’s policy direction, it is still uncertain where it will go.

“For example, RUED, ​​although the regions already have RUED, ​​the authority to execute is centralized in PLN and Pertamina, so these regions have RUED but cannot affect the results,” said Herman.

Faela Sufa, Southeast Asia Director of ITDP, sees that the transportation sector can be one of the drivers of the renewable energy ecosystem in Indonesia.

“For example, for the electrification of public transportation, we need to synchronize together and identify what incentives need to be given so that it can be more tangible in energy use and coordination with various sectors related to renewable energy for electrification,” explained Faela.

Yusrizki, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) for New and Renewable Energy, said that KADIN has declared it will become a net-zero organization in 2060 and is actively encouraging its members to have a-net zero target.

“In the 2022 G20 summit, we are expected to have 100 Indonesian companies that have pledged a net-zero target and this is a very ambitious target. We start from education, assisting -helping them to make their agenda-, to pledge their commitment,” Yusrizki explained.

Meanwhile, Arief Sugiyanto, Vice President of PLN’s RUPTL Control, explained that his party is currently trying to meet the energy mix target of 23% by 2025.

“The target of 23% NRE in 2025 is indeed a formidable challenge. One of PLN’s strategies is to change diesel power generators in isolated areas gradually with NRE generators available in those locations,” said Arief.

Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook (IETO) 2022

IETO 2022 will be launched in a webinar that is also intended to obtain views/perceptions from policymakers and actors on the trends that will occur in the coming year in the energy transition. Discussions at this meeting will focus on the energy transition readiness framework in Indonesia’s electricity sector as well as various lessons learned in 2021 to overcome the challenges of encouraging the energy transition in 2022.

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