Navigating Water Illuminates the Plains of Sriwijaya

Palembang, February 27, 2024 – The Jelajah Energi South Sumatra group was welcomed by the thunderous sound of the fast-flowing Endikat River and the cloudy weather upon their arrival at Muara Endikat, also known as the mouth of the Cawang River, in Singapore Village, Kota Agung District, Lahat Regency, South Sumatra. This region is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and has significant potential to provide electrical energy for the local population.

Located about a 1 to 1.5-hour drive away from Pagar Alam City, the Jelajah Energi South Sumatra group reached PLTMH Green Lahat. This Mini Hydro Power Plant (MHP) has been operational since 2015 and has an electrical energy production capacity of 3×3.3 Megawatts (MW), making its total capacity 9.9 MW.

“7 MW of the total energy produced is allocated to meet the electricity needs of Pagar Alam City, while the remaining 30% is distributed to Lahat Regency,” said Kastiono, plant manager of Green Lahat MHP. 

Next to MHP Green Lahat, MHP Endikat (both under the parent company PT Manggala Gita Karya) has also been built with a 3 x 2.67 MW capacity, which will be operational in 2022. The two independent power producers (IPPs) utilize the flow of the Endikat River to produce electrical energy that is sold to PLN and used later by the community.

Kastiono explained that before the construction of the MHP, the residents residing around the power plant in Pagar Alam City and Lahat Regency used to experience a drop in electricity voltage. The poor quality of electricity was influenced by various factors, including the power plant’s location being too far from the substation, which led to unstable voltage. Additionally, Kastiono admits that the electricity production from MHP Green Lahat depends on the conditions around the river upstream.

“The most crucial aspect is the greening of the upstream. Everything must be controlled, and there should be no illegal logging. However, the responsibility of maintaining forest cover in the watershed also involves other agencies,” he said.

Rizqi Mahfud Prasetyo, Project Coordinator of Sub National, Sustainable Energy Access, IESR mentioned that according to IESR’s study, Indonesia has 27.8 GW of MHP/MH potential, of which 287.7 MW is located in South Sumatra. 

“In addition to increasing the renewable energy mix in PLN’s electricity. MHP can improve the quality of energy access for people who may not have been reached by the PLN network,” Rizqi said.

Rizqi also added that the geography and topography of some of Indonesia’s contoured areas allow for the existence of river flows and river drops. River flow has the potential to be utilized as a power plant, one of which is in PLTM Green Lahat which utilizes the Endikat river flow.

The presence of MHP Green Lahat and MHP Endikat instills a sense of hope in the communities of South Sumatra by providing dependable electrical energy and bolstering the infrastructure and local economy. These micro-hydro power plants are expected to continue to offer sustainable benefits to the community and the environment in the long run.