Jakarta, 15 December 2020 – “What are the investment costs and roof area that I need to install a solar rooftop PV system? Does it save electricity costs? How is the integration with the PLN network? What are the installation regulations like?”
These questions often arise from the community before they decide to use the solar rooftop. Fabby Tumiwa, Executive Director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) said that it is a natural thing because generally, as energy consumers, they want to know the rooftop solar PV system they will use. Product knowledge is a considerable part in determining this decision.
“The need for information related to solar rooftops is increasing compared to 3 years ago when we initiated the National Movement for One Million Solar Rooftops (Gerakan Nasional Sejuta Surya Atap-GNSSA). The rooftop PV market is now also more open, even available online,” he explained in the discussion on Pursuing the Gigawatt Solar Energy Order in Indonesia, which was held by IESR.
However, this interest has not become a significant realization. As compared to Vietnam, in the same period, the last 2-3 years, Vietnam was able to increase its solar rooftop installation to 1.5 GWp. Meanwhile, Indonesia has just recorded the establishment of a solar rooftop of less than 20 MW.
In general, Indonesia’s renewable energy targets in the National Energy General Plan (Rencana Umum Energi Nasional-RUEN) have not gone according to plan. Until the end of 2019, the achievement of renewable energy was only 9.15%. Meanwhile, only 5 (five) years left to realize 23% renewable energy.
“To pursue that target is by encouraging the implementation of the solar rooftops. GNSSA exists to foster the formation of the gigawatt order in Indonesia. If this order establishes, the solar roof penetration to reach the target of 6.5 GW of renewable energy in RUEN will be faster, achieving economies of scale, will also increase public interest, and the price will be more affordable, “said Fabby.
Indeed, the GNSSA echo has had a pretty good impact. There has been an increase in the number of PLN customers using solar rooftop PV during the last 3 (three) years, from 268 in 2017 to more than 2,500 customers by October 2020. Regulations issued by the Ministry MEMR also triggered this increase – Permen ESDM No. 49/2018 as an updated Regulation from Permen ESDM No.13/2019 and No. 16/2019.
There are more companies providing rooftop PV installation services and increasing public interest in using rooftop solar PV as part of their lifestyle.
However, it is still not enough to meet the target of solar energy in RUEN, and the aim of the GNSSA, 1 (one) GW cumulative solar rooftop by 2020.
According to Fabby, rather than hoping for the development of solar panels on a utility-scale that requires land, time, and funding, the government should also focus on roof solar power plants for households, business and commercial sectors, and MSMEs.
“The IESR study shows that by 2030, the market potential for rooftop solar power plants in Java and Bali could reach 10-12 GW,” he also explained.
In Central Java alone, based on the IESR survey, there is a market potential of up to 9.6% for the residential group, 9.8% for business/commercial, and 10.8% for MSMEs. Furthermore, this survey also shows that 7 out of 10 homeowners give a positive response to using solar rooftops. However, 92% still have high doubts because they do not understand the technology, assume the price is still costly, and have not got the right answer regarding the products and benefits of saving electricity from solar rooftops.
Regarding the price, according to Fabby, in the past 3 (three) years, there has been a decrease in the investment cost for installing the roof PLTS, which was previously Rp. 25 – 35 million per kWp to Rp. 15 – 20 million per kWp. Likewise, the price of solar modules has decreased by 40% from $ 30 per Wp to 20 cents per Wp.
“Customers’ hesitation in installing roof solar power plants is based on the lack of reliable information and flat socialization of regulations regarding the use of roof solar power plants. Besides, information regarding the procedure for installing solar rooftops connected to the network (on-grid), the benefits that can be felt by users, to where they can buy their products is still limited and is still concentrated in big cities in Java, “said Fabby.
Bambang Sumaryo, Chairman of the Solar Roof Solar Power Users Association (Perkumpulan Pengguna Listrik Surya Atap-PPLSA), a rooftop solar user for 6 (six) years to date, expressed other dilemmas that are usually considered by potential consumers in installing rooftop solar power plants.
“The availability of kWh Exim (export-import) allows solar rooftops users to enter the on-grid network, making it more efficient. However, the availability of kWh Exim is hard to obtain, especially in the regions, “he complained.
Bambang also agrees with IESR’s observations regarding the lack of evenness of information accessible to potential users.
Moreover, Bambang mentioned the net-metering tariff rule of 1: 0.65 in the Permen ESDM No. 49/2018. This rate causes the payback period to be more than 5 (five) years, and the percentage of savings is not as high as expected.
Responding to the information gap accessible to the public, IESR built an online portal for SolarHub Indonesia (solarhub.id), which aims to provide information about solar energy for prospective users of PLTS rooftop and connect them with companies presenting products and installing rooftop solar power plants.
“Maybe there are still people who think they need a large area to install solar rooftops. Whereas with advances in technology, we can install solar rooftop PV on the roof of the house, in the canopy, or as a hybrid system, “said Chairiman from ATW Solar as a provider of solar rooftops installation products and services who joins SolarHub Indonesia.
Chairiman hopes that this portal, with its information and accuracy of the narrative, will attract more people to invest in rooftop solar PV.
On the other hand, Marlistya Citraningrum, Manager of the IESR Sustainable Energy Access Program, explained that the SolarHub Indonesia portal would bridge the Indonesian people, especially those outside urban areas and outside Java, to get information about the solar rooftops.
“Those who live in Jakarta, for instance, are advantageous because they can be directly exposed to socialization activities and connect with product and service providers if they want to know more about designs, the benefits of savings, and after-sales services for solar rooftops PV,” she explained.
At SolarHub Indonesia, there is also a sophisticated calculator. By using it, the users can calculate the amount of savings in electricity costs, details of the need for PV mini-grid for prospective users’ buildings, and the amount of budget required for the investment.
The market potential for rooftop solar electricity also shows that the solar energy target in Indonesia can be achieved easily through the deployment of roof solar power alone. Of course, with a combination of supporting policies and regulations and the availability of complete and equitable information about rooftop solar power plants, installation procedures, product providers, and installation services, to the choice of financing schemes.
The IESR market survey also shows that most people want a payback period of fewer than five years, which is difficult to achieve if the net-metering rate used is still 1: 0.65 as stipulated in Permen ESDM No. 49/2018. Furthermore, the clarity of the installation procedure in different areas also needs to be uniformed so that users of solar rooftops do not have to wait for months to get kWh Exim (export-import). The government needs to pay attention to the aspirations of people so that their interests can be encouraged into adoption and practice.