Powering Archipelago

A session by Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and BPDP
Date : Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Time : 17.40 – 19.00 GMT
Venue : Indonesia Pavilion at COP 22, Marrakech, Morocco


An estimated 2 billion people worldwide lack adequate access to electrical power or heat; 1.5 billions lack access to electricity and 85% of these live in rural areas.[1] This situation, referred to as ‘energy poverty’, usually means a complete lack of access to electrical power, although the term can be applied to individuals who do not have access to a minimum of 100-120 kWh of electricity per capita per year[2] for lighting, drinking water, communication, improved health services, education and other fundamental needs.

Indonesia is actually have a high energy consumption per capita, but the areas where energy is highly consumed, are not equal. Java island, up until today, is an island with the highest energy consumption level, while other islands in Indonesia are lower in energy consumption. This of course caused Indonesia’s statistic on energy demand grows not at the same pace. 29% of the population were still not even connected to the grid while a large part of those connected do suffer from frequent blackouts.  This not only means that 70m people live without the basic of the modern society – power- but also that Indonesia tracks far behind its regional peers, Philippines with 90% and Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia >97% ratios (ASEAN-RESP 2012).

There are two reasons why it is so challenging to bring electricity to the masses in Indonesia. One is the geographical nature of the country which consists of more than 7,000 inhabited islands among 14,000 all over the country. The second reason is the country’s heavy reliance on fossil energy for generating electricity. The source of fossil energy is usually far away from consumers, mostly live in Java island and therefore, building a vast network of energy distribution is very expensive and extemely complex. This condition presents a dilemma where natural commodities such as raw spices, timber, marine products, forest products are in abundance in rural communities but due to lack of energy, those valuable natural commodities can not be processed into high quality products and have to be exported from many small islands as low added value products or even low quality raw material only.

Utilizing local forest biomass as source of renewable energy is not new as people has been using it for cooking fuel. However, high technology is required to convert biomass energy into combustible gas which in turn generates electricity. This system can then be deployed in rural areas with minimal infrastructures where in the past, they have to rely on expensive diesel gensets. As a distributed power system, it can also be combined with local hydro power or solar panel in order to increase power capacity faster and reach wider power coverage. The local forest biomass source of energy replaces diesel fuel and the power plant can be built closed to population while promoting low carbon economic development. Consequently, Indonesia can then increase electricity ratios to its population without sacrificing the state budget, restoring degraded land and reduce its greenhouse gas emission at the same time.

[1]International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook, 2010.

[2]The U.N Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC), Energy for a Sustainable Future, April 2010




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