Building Collaboration Between CSOs in ASEAN to Accelerate Energy Transition

press release

Jakarta, May 16, 2023 – As the Chair of ASEAN in 2023, Indonesia can engage civil society in enhancing ASEAN’s relevance in various aspects aligned with global development challenges. These include increasing ambitions for regional climate targets, developing renewable energy, and promoting sustainable development.

The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) believes that following the success of the energy transition agenda at the G20, Indonesia can foster cooperation among ASEAN countries to implement energy transitions in line with the targets of the Paris Agreement. This collaboration can help build joint efforts to strengthen resilience in the face of various threats and impacts of climate change, through sustainable development.

ASEAN already has the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC) and ASEAN Working Group on Forest and Climate Change (AWGFCC), as well as ASEAN Energy Cooperation. However, achieving climate mitigation targets and advancing renewable energy require additional efforts and collaboration between these working groups, along with civil society organizations and transnational communities, to increase their contribution to the region.

IESR believes that Indonesia, as the Chair of ASEAN, can provide space for civil society at the regional level to be involved in the process of its chairmanship agenda in 2023, particularly regarding energy and climate issues.

“As one of the regional organizations projected to experience 4.7% economic growth in 2023 amidst weakening global demand, ASEAN is a promising region for investment, especially in the renewable energy sector. Leveraging its leadership in ASEAN, Indonesia can encourage and embrace civil society organizations in ASEAN to focus on the energy transition. By initiating concrete collaborations, together we can accelerate the energy transition in the region and tackle climate change,” said Fabby Tumiwa, IESR Executive Director, during the public discussion titled “Making Energy Green and Low Carbon to Support Sustainable Growth: Advancing the Role of Civil Society in Southeast Asia Energy Transition During Indonesia ASEAN Chairmanship 2023,” organized by IESR.

Economic growth in the ASEAN region needs to align with commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions following the Paris Agreement. ASEAN has set a target of achieving 23% of the renewable energy mix by 2025. However, according to the IEA, 80% of the primary energy mix in the Southeast Asian region still comes from fossil fuels. Reducing the cost of renewable energy is predicted by the IEA to increase the penetration of renewable energy in ASEAN by up to 70% by 2040. This can be achieved through intensive coordination and collaboration among stakeholders (government, civil society, and business stakeholders) in ASEAN, especially in the regional policy-making process.

Nevertheless, Arief Rosadi, Coordinator of the IESR Climate Diplomacy Project, highlights that ASEAN currently lacks a formal channel for civil society to express aspirations, particularly on climate and energy issues. Therefore, Indonesia needs to lead ASEAN in providing an inclusive and constructive dialogue space for civil society in the decision-making process within the region.

“One immediate step to take is to increase the intensity of communication between civil society in the region, enabling the sharing of information and the latest developments in each country regarding energy and climate issues. This aims to strengthen solidarity and a sense of ownership of ASEAN as a collective region,” said Arief.

According to him, Indonesia can encourage more public discussions that focus on knowledge exchange and provide data-based policy recommendations that support the acceleration of the energy transition through the development of renewable energy at the regional level. Additionally, this approach can offer opportunities for developing human resource capacity in the renewable energy sector.

“Another important action is to strengthen grassroots collaboration and civil society networks at the regional level. This collaboration can contribute to the achievement of the climate agenda and energy transition in the region by sharing good practices and technical knowledge,” Arief added.

The Limited Option of Clean Energy for Remote Area Residents

Consumers can choose cleaner energy sources, but what if the choice is minimal? Or even none at all?

The government’s commitment to promoting renewable energy (RE) in Indonesia dates back several years. Furthermore, the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius makes the Indonesian government more serious about shifting fossil energy to cleaner energy by focusing on developing the electricity sector with renewable energy. At the same time, based on the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) assessment for the last 2 years shows that the Indonesian government’s policies, commitments and emission reduction targets are rated Highly insufficient or even lead to rising, rather than falling emissions.

With a considerable gap between the 2025 target and the results of the CAT Indonesia assessment showing inconsistencies with the Paris Agreement, boosting energy transition must continue to be pushed to a higher achievement rate, given the gap that is quite far from the “big” target of 23%. The government’s participation in enacting more ambitious policies and objectives in the energy transition is expected to breathe new life into cleaner energy policies for the community as the end customer.

The energy transition can, in reality, give Indonesian citizens optimism that there are cleaner and more sustainable energy sources for usage than fossil energy, energy with lower emission quality. Inclusiveness in accessing energy for all communities, especially in remote areas, is an important point in the energy transition carried out.

Is Diesel Still a Good Choice?

As is generally the case in the Adonara Island area, East Flores, NTT has power outages, diesel-fuelled generators and PLTD (Diesel Power Plant) are still “best friends” of residents there, at least for the last 4 years. Power outages that occur 2-3 times a day, for an unspecified period, make people with a “better economy” priority to have private generators. Then, what about those who do not belong to that group? Light from candles will be the main lighting in their house, or, they can enjoy electricity access from a neighbour’s generator if they are lucky enough.

The 62 units of the total 85 PLN power plants in the 2021-2030 RUPTL show the general usage of diesel power plants in NTT as a solution for delivering energy from the government. Diesel-based plants have often been used as a solution by the government to provide electricity in areas that are difficult to access. Indeed, the abundance of renewable energy types available can assist individuals in selecting greener energy sources, both small-scale (for example rooftop solar PV, biomass, and micro-hydro) and large-scale plants (hydropower, ground-mounted PV, geothermal).

In addition, this can also overcome PLN’s problems in the mobility of installing electricity networks in remote areas due to several things, including difficult location access, locations far from the existing grid and road infrastructure that has not been supported.

Capacity Development and Sustainability

If we only rely on outsiders for maintenance, especially in rural areas—which has always been one of PLN’s toughest problems in creating access to electricity—the ease of access and diversity of renewable energy growth sources will inevitably be obstructed. Without excluding the government’s right to provide electricity evenly to the community as stated in Article 2 paragraph (2) of Law 30/2009 on Electricity, the role of local communities as consumers is very large in helping the sustainability of renewable energy development.

The government should encourage local community participation in technical aspects of RE development so that in the future, local communities as final consumers are not only “recipients,” but also “experts,” with the potential to become “creators” capable of providing energy on their own.

The big knowledge gap in local communities for technical problems should be filled with capacity development by the government and expert partners with a sufficient period so that the community can be independent or with less supervision from the central, not only 1 span short program and then not continued in the next period.

One example of capacity development applied to local communities by the government and experts is The Patriot Energi program. By approximately 1 year of the program, energy independence can be increased in the community base. With a specified time, the possibility of areas that have not been fully independent should exist. However, the expectation of local communities who can explore and utilize renewable energy more deeply with qualified technical capabilities far outweighs these doubts.  It is not improbable that in the future, renewable energy technologies will be created by distant villages where the only access to electricity was provided by non-clean energy.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative Opportunities in Accelerating the Energy Transition in Indonesia


Beijing, March 27, 2023 – The Executive Director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Fabby Tumiwa, highlighted that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) allowed China to play a role in accelerating the energy transition in Indonesia. He mentioned this as a guest speaker promoting green and low carbon transition in BRI participating countries and  CCICED particular policy study on green BRI workshop on Monday (27/3/2023).

“Indonesia must increase its ambition to make emission reductions compatible with the Paris Agreement. Under the current plan, Indonesia will achieve the energy sector’s net zero emission (NZE) after 2060, but the electricity sector will reach zero in 2050. For this reason, we need more efforts to decarbonize the transportation and industrial sectors,” explained Fabby.

He also underlined that Indonesia needs a cumulative investment of around USD 1.3 trillion spread across various technologies in the push for decarbonization. Under these conditions, Fabby said, China could play a role in supporting the energy transition in Indonesia through technology, manufacturing, and investment cooperation, considering that there is market potential in increasing demand for renewable energy in Indonesia.

“Solar power will play an important role in Indonesia’s energy transition. Based on the 2021-2030 Electricity Supply Business Plan (RUPTL), PLN plans to add 3.9 GW of solar energy in 2025. For this reason, BRI’s investment in 2023 needs to be focused on financially feasible projects, such as scalable solar and wind power plants, said Fabby Tumiwa.

On the other hand, the existence of BRI can enable investment in the renewable energy component industry. This can be done by considering the complexity of the supply chain. Fabby emphasized that industrialization in Southeast Asia accompanied the push for the energy transition, such as energy storage, electric vehicles, and solar panels.

“Currently, Indonesia has started to develop the battery and electric vehicle industry because of its great nickel content. Low production costs and availability of resources are several opportunities to develop the local solar module industry in Indonesia,” said Fabby.

On the same occasion, Deon Arinaldo, Energy Transformation Program Manager, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained various power system plans and projections expected to accelerate the spread of renewable energy in Indonesia. For example, the latest power system energy planning stipulates around 20.9 GW of renewables to be built in 2030. This number will increase by at least 5-6 GW if Indonesia considers the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) target of 34% renewable energy mix in 2030.

Deon Arinaldo, Manajer Program Transformasi Energi, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)
Deon Arinaldo, Energy Transformation Program Manager

“To achieve the national policy target in 2025, the IEA projects an additional solar energy capacity of 17.7 GW above that planned in the RUPTL. Meanwhile, based on the IESR scenario, the power generation capacity based on renewable energy must be boosted to 140 GW to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” Deon explained.

However, said Deon, historically, the installed capacity of renewable energy has only grown around 500 MW per year. This happened because there were several main challenges, including excess capacity at the Java-Bali power plant. Moreover, the domination of coal power plant capacity with a take-or-pay mechanism needs to make room for the integration of renewable energy. Another challenge is the renewable energy procurement process and the requirements for using local content, which places unnecessary risks in developing renewable energy.

Racing Against Time, Driving Deep Decarbonization of Indonesia’s Energy System

Deon Arinaldo

Jakarta, March 14, 2023 – The Government of Indonesia (GoI)  needs to set more ambitious targets to accelerate the transition to clean energy with decarbonization so that the increase in the earth’s temperature does not exceed 1.5°C. As a country that ratified the Paris Agreement, Indonesia is legally bound to integrate its policies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Deon Arinaldo, Program Manager for Energy Transformation, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained that to support the global target of 1.5°C, emissions of Indonesia’s energy system must peak before 2030 and reach zero by 2050.

“For this reason, the transition to the energy system needs to be planned and started from the beginning. The electricity sector is most ready to transition because renewable energy generators are available with abundant potential and are competitive with fossil energy,” said Deon at the Implementation of a Just Energy Transition in Indonesia event organized by the International Institute for Sustainable Development on Tuesday (14/3/2023). 

Quoting the IESR study entitled Deep Decarbonization of Indonesia Energy System, said Deon, the energy system transition in Indonesia needs to achieve three milestones, including 100 GW of solar panels, no new PLTU except for 11 GW included in the development plan, and 2 GW of prosumer solar panels in the first stage in the 2018-2030 period, then in the second stage, namely 100% renewable energy, utility-scale battery storage, starting to install a 2 GW electrolyzer and CO2 storage and direct air carbon capture (DAC) in the 2030-2045 period, then in the third stage, i.e., continuing to use 100% renewable energy after 2045.

“To achieve a transition to the energy system, renewable energy, especially solar, has a major role to play in Indonesia’s electricity generation in a carbon-neutral scenario,” said Deon.

In addition, Deon emphasized that the energy transition at least requires a transformative approach to all aspects, from policy, economic, and social to technical. For example, in the policy aspect, it is necessary to consider more apparent steps, not just BaU (business as usual). As a developing country, Indonesia can also take a role in the energy transition. Still, on the other hand, there is pressure for developed countries to provide technology, funds, and assistance.

“To support the 1.5°C target, we need to change our perspective, work, and energy system. For this reason, a stronger message is needed in energy planning and policy,” explained Deon.

On the same occasion, Satya Widya Yudha, a National Energy Council (DEN) member, emphasized the need for climate finance as the main driving force for achieving carbon neutrality. For this reason, Indonesia needs help from other countries to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 or sooner. To achieve this target, said Satya, Indonesia also has a strategy for decarbonization in electricity generation.

“We still try to use fossil energy still but with clean energy technology. However, we also continue accelerating the use of renewable energy, such as electric vehicles and hydrogen development. Until renewable energy can be used entirely, “explained Satya.

Developing Indonesia’s Geothermal Power for Energy Transition


Jakarta, February 24, 2023 – PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy Tbk (PGE) is ready to hold an initial public offering (IPO) worth Rp9.8 trillion on the Indonesia Stock Exchange on Friday (24/2/2023). With these funds, PGE will develop a geothermal power plant (PLTP) with a capacity of 600 megawatts until 2027. Responding to this, the Executive Director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Fabby Tumiwa, explained two urgencies in the IPO process for PGE shares. First, Indonesia’s target is to develop renewable energy and make an energy transition. Therefore, Indonesia needs to take advantage of all its renewable energy sources. Moreover, Indonesia also needs to gradually reduce the operation of coal-fired power plants until 2050.

“The second urgency is that PGE has a business strategy, and this company will transform from an oil and gas company to an energy company. One of them will be encouraged by the development of renewable energy, such as geothermal,” explained Fabby.

Fabby said that Pertamina has large geothermal reserves, and the quality of the resources is quite good because Pertamina has been exploring since the 1980s. Thus, Fabby assessed that it could not be developed optimally due to several factors. One of the factors is funding. Bearing in mind the development of geothermal resources requires a sizable investment because they have to carry out exploration (drilling) and ascertain what percentage of these reserves can be used for electricity operations.

“In Indonesia, the cost of drilling just one well requires funds of around USD 3-5 million. With a success rate of 30% and when we drill three wells, we can get one well that is successful at generating around 30-50 megawatts (MW) of electricity, and we have to spend USD 15 million for the drilling. It envolves infrastructure and so on. This process takes a long time from drilling to turning it into a power plant,” said Fabby.

Fabby mentioned that Pertamina needs to optimize the potential of existing geothermal reserves. For that, Pertamina needs funds. One way to get these funds is through an IPO of shares. The IPO is the right step for Pertamina’s future development.

“Indonesia has the largest geothermal potential in the world, a total of around 28 gigawatts (GW) or 28 thousand megawatts (MW), of which less than 10% has been utilized until today. If we can develop this, it is hoped that renewable energy will be more competitive, especially electricity from geothermal, which can be cheaper,” stated Fabby.