Solar energy economy and development – Indonesia
In 2009, The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry announced that they would be spending Rp 800 billion ($84 million) in 2010 on the building of 25 solar power plants in Indonesia. When completed, the plants are estimated to run at a total capacity of 2,234 kilowatts-peak, and will help to expand the access to electricity throughout rural areas of the country. This huge investment in solar energy is expected to eventually power up to 200,000 homes.
The ministry’s director general of electricity, Jacobus Purwono said;. “The electricity produced by the plants will benefit 150,000 to 200,000 households in different parts of the country,” He added that remote areas that are not currently covered by state power utility - PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara - would be prime locations for new solar generators. In addition, the government plans to build 570 small hydroplants, with a generation capacity of 45.6 megawatts, fit 192,000 homes with solar power panels and build 270 wind-based plants with a total capacity of 21.67 MW.
Clearly, this is a very welcome proposal, as approximately 84 million of the country’s 240 million population currently lack access to electricity. It is estimated that only 65 percent of the country currently receives electricity, while many parts, such as West Nusa Tenggara, Papua, West Irian Jaya and Southeast Sulawesi are still not connected to the grid.
Dahlan Iskan, Director of Indonesian state-run power firm PLN also said that the company plans to develop and build a number of power stations on islands outside Java. Dahlan said;"The pilot project is estimated to cost 250 billion Rupiah (approx. 27.8 million US dollars) and will include the construction of solar power generating stations (PLTS) in five provinces,". The five main power stations will be located in Bunaken (North Sulawesi), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), Derawan (East Kalimantan), Banda Island (Maluku) and West Papua.
Certainly, costs are an issue for new installations, as Dahlan points out: "Solar Energy power generators are still rare now due to high installation costs," . However, the new solar plants are essential, not only for the environment, but also to remove Indonesia’s reliance on fossil fuels. To help with the plans, a number of initiatives have been formed to address the issue of installation costs.
One such project has been implemented jointly by URC and UNEP. The objective of the project is to create a competitive credit market for a few pre-identified Solar Energy Technologies Systems (SETs) in Indonesia. The initiative aims to promote the mainstreaming and commercialisation of solar technologies via localised financing, and to increase the outreach of solar energy to rural and/or low income households.
Certainly, initiatives such as this could help substantially with the rollout of solar technologies throughout Indonesia, and, when combined with the investments made by The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the future is looking very bright for households throughout Indonesia.