Renewable Energy Sources for Rural Electrification in Indonesia

Indonesia is an archipelago that consists of more than 17.000 islands that placed as 4th largest population in the world. Being a vast country with enormous population resulted in encounters with considerable energy demands, which as the evidence, in 2016 the selling of electricity was reaching 217,5 TWh [1]. However, 100% electrification is still difficult to achieved due to accessibility problem.


According to National Electric Company of Indonesia (PT. PLN), Indonesia has a 91.2% electrification ratio in 2016 [1]. However, only 71% of rural areas are electrified [2]. More than 12,000 villages are yet to be supplied with proper electricity. 2500 of them are entirely dark – 2400 of it is spread out in the eastern part of Indonesia. This is a problem that needs to be resolved considering that 46% of the total population reside in the village and most are economically weak [3].


Indonesia currently relies heavily in fossil fuels. About 56% of electricity consumption is from coal energy [4]. Other than that, rural electrification also depends severely on fossil fuel, which is now predominantly supplied by diesel generators. This solution is the easiest solution though it is costly and not environmentally friendly.


Recognizing that Indonesia relies heavily on fossil fuel for the energy sector, the government, in this case, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR), intentionally wants to implement more renewable energy to reduce carbon emission and support Paris Agreement ratification. In term of that, National Energy Committee (DEN) confidently stipulated a goal of 23% new and renewable energy fraction in 2025 energy mix, indicating a significant increment from 6% in 2014 [5].


Renewable energy (RE) offers cleaner energy utilization and can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Another advantage of renewable energy is the availability for its generation in the distribution level voltage which is commonly the level of voltage in rural electrification. Because of that, RE could be suitable to reduce the usage of diesel generator in rural areas. This article will further discuss various available RE sources in Indonesia, alongside with their advantages and disadvantages.


Renewable Energy Potency in Indonesia

As an archipelago country that is located in the equator, Indonesia has abundant potential of renewable energy, especially solar energy, micro-hydro, wind-power, and tidal wave. Beside of that, Indonesia is crossed by the ring of fire, because of that geothermal energy also offers an interesting potential. But geothermal can not become a solution for rural electrification, due to its inability to operate at the distribution level.


The average amount of irradiation in Indonesia is 4.80 kWh/m2/day [1]. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimated 47 GW PV power plant capacity can be developed in 2030 in Indonesia. Currently only 0.058% of total IRENA’s estimation is utilized in Indonesia due to cost and technical issues [6].

Figure 1 Decreasing Trend of PV Module Worldwide [7]


Figure 1  reveals that the price of PV module dropped out as much as 70% from 2009 to 2014 due to increasing market interest. It means in the future solar powered electricity will more affordable and as the equatorial country this is an opportunity to implement more PV.


The hydro potential in Indonesia is 75,000 MW in total. Indonesia potentially provides 143,845.30 kW [9] for micro-hydro plant (up to 15 kW capacity). However, only 1.8% or 2,600 kW is utilized as micro-hydro power plant [9]. Micro-hydro is the cheapest renewable energy for rural electrification solution. Another advantage of micro-hydro is it can produce more stable electricity compare with PV. On the other hand, micro-hydro faces the considerable threat from land-acquisition process, requiring proper compromise between local community, power provider, and government.


It was a long thought that Indonesia has limited wind power generation, but recent finding showed that wind potential in Indonesia might be as high as 9 GW [1]. Nowadays, 1.4 MW wind power is installed and would be targeted to reach 970 MW in 2025 [6]. Wind turbine for rural electrification specifies a small velocity wind turbine (2-5 m/s) due to more modest load requirement. Due to a highly intermittent characteristic of wind occurence in Indonesia, it is more appropriate to couple the wind turbine with other energy sources, such as PV, micro-hydro, or generator diesel.


Indonesia has a 4.8 GW electricity potential from tidal wave. Current wave velocities in Indonesia are enormously showing potential, up to 3-4 m/s and the power density in some locations can exceed 10 kW/m2 [10]. Nonetheless, plenty of research should be done to choose the most suitable technology for electrical power generation.


Biomass generation in Indonesia also has a bright future with a 150 million tones of annual biomass created. The total electricity conversion potential is 32,654 MW, which currently only 0.02% is utilized [6]. Nevertheless, biomass for rural electrification in Indonesia had already become a focus of research in University of PLN (STT PLN). STT PLN already signed cooperation with PT. Indonesia Power for progressing small-scale biomass-based power plant that could produce 10 kW – 100 kW electricity in a village.


Hybridization Solution

Intermittency of PV and other RNE always jeopardize the power quality of the system. Consequently, battery storage, which is one of the most expensive equipment in PV system, is required to cover the sources unavailability. Alternatively, renewable energy sources can be hybridized with more reliable and stable sources, for instance, diesel generator and micro-hydro. As a result, battery capacity is reduced; it means that a cheaper battery can be utilized.

Figure 2 Typical Load Villages Load Data in Indonesia, Scenario A above and Scenario B below [11]


A typical load data for a village in Indonesia is revealed in Figure 2. Scenario A, is a household load with 162 kWh/day daily load demands, while scenario B is demonstrated a general village productive building, such as administration office with the total 588.5 kWh of energy consumption. Using those two data, Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of various generation schemes is compared as shown in figure beneath [11].

Figure 3 LCOE Comparison of Indonesia’s Rural Electrification Solution [11], the black lines demonstrated the influences of fuel cost due to remoteness of the area


Scenario B has lower cost from scenario A due to capacity factor. As the household load, the power generation system is idle throughout the day, and therefore no electricity can be sold. From the figure, micro-hydro solution consistently has the lowest LCOE compared with other technologies. PV Battery solution is still more expensive than conventional diesel power plant. However, the hybrid solution between solar PV/ Diesel is showing a promising value of LCOE, since it is below the threshold of 0.5 Euro of LCOE.


A research proved from a hybrid power system in Sumba, Indonesia, the reduction of annual fuel consumption is up to 100,000 liter, a significant value also for reducing CO2 emission [12].


Current Condition

The government of Indonesia realizes the urgency to applicate renewable energy for rural electrification. MEMR for instance initiated a “Bright Indonesia Program” (PIT)  to provide electricity for villages using distributed renewable energy generation concept. To support this program, government ran a project called  “Energy Patriot” which is conducted by youths for empowering the villagers who become the target of the PIT. Since the change of the Minister, the energy patriot has been stopped.


Another excellent example is a stand-alone hybrid project installed in Sebira Island, Kepulauan Seribu, North Jakarta. The existing capacity installed consists of 37.68 kWp of PV, 11.52 kW of Wind Turbine, and 105 kW of the diesel generator [13].The other project is undergoing in Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara. Cooperating with Japan company, the government want to implement smart grid in Sumba. It will demonstrate the application of Energy Management System (EMS) combined with distributed generation from PV, wind energy sources, and diesel.


One of the most extensive challenges in rural electrification is public education. In this case, NGOs play an essential role for preparing the community. One of the good example of NGOs in this field is IBEKA, an organization that develops Micro-hydro in remote villages which are also utilized as an integral part for local community business boosters. Therefore, the locals are empowered to become financially independent for managing the operational needs of the power plant while enhancing their life quality.



A Glimpse of Hope for Rural Electrification

Hopefully, this explanation could open up the view of the reader about the problem from Indonesia. With a tremendous potential of renewable energy across the land, Indonesia must be able to resolve the rural electrification issues and achieve the energy sovereignty among nationwide.


Evidently, an assessment in Bangladesh conclude that the gain in total income due to electrification can be as much as 30 [14]. Electricity could leverage the villagers life quality. This shows how vital electricity for an impoverished community in the villages.

Hybridization of the several sources already showed an encouraging viability to implement renewable energy while enduring with the present high-cost component. By reducing the amount of diesel generator used and decrease the battery capacity, the levelized cost of electricity still logically achievable affordable for the people to pay. Instead of using generator diesel, micro-hydro also can be utilized as the cleaner back-up generation.


Another proposed solution is local empowerment. The essential part of empowerment is to prepare the community for sensing some added value provided by the technology that will be given. Therefore, instead of only using the technology for their daily activities, they can utilize it as an integral part of their own business advancement. The local empowerment will help maintaining the sustainability of a newly implemented technology in the community.





[1] PT. PLN Persero, “Rancangan Umum Pembangkitan Tenaga Listrik/ RUPTL (The General Plan for Power Plant Development) 2017-2026,” PT. PLN Persero, Jakarta, 2017.
[2] International Energy Agency, “World Energy Outlook 2016,” International Energy Agency, 2016.
[3] World Bank, “Rural Population of Total Population,” 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 12 December 2017].
[4] The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, “Indonesia’s Electricity Demand and the Coal Sector: Export or meet domestic demanad?,” University of Oxford, Oxford, 2017.
[5] Dewan Energi Nasional (National Energy Committee), “Outlook Energi Indonesia 2014 (Indonesia Energy Outlook 2014),” Dewan Energy Nasional, Jakarta, 2014.
[6] P. Tharakan, “Summary of Indonesia Energy Sector Assessment,” Asian Development Bank, Jakarta, 2015.
[7] World Energy Council, “World Energy Resources: Solar,” World Energy Council, 2016.
[8] M. Taylor, “Battery Storage: Accelerating the Energy Transition,” International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 2017.
[9] Erinofiardi, P. Gokhale, A. Date, A. Akbarzadeh, P. Bismantolo, A. F. Suryono, A. K. Mainil and A. Nuramal, “A review on Micro Hydropower in Indonesia,” in 1st Conference on Energy and Power (ICEP2016), Melbourne, 2017.
[10] K. Orhan, R. Mayerle, R. Narayan and W. W. Pandoe, “Investigation of the Energy Potential from Tidal Steam Currents in Indonesia,” German Ministry of Education and Research, 2016.
[11] N. U. Blum, R. S. Wakeling and T. S. Schmidt, “Rural Electrification through Village Grids- Assessing the Cost Competitiveness of Isolated Renewable Energy Technologies in Indonesia,” ETH Zurich, Zurich, 2013.
[12] S. T. Mehang, Y. Tanoto and M. Santoso, “Potential of Small Size Hybrid Diesel to Improve Sub-District Supply Duration in East Sumba, Indonesia,” International Journal of Renewable Energy Research, Surabay, 2016.
[13] H. Wicaksana, M. M. Muslim, S. F. Hutapea, A. Purwadi and Y. Haroen, “Design, Implementation and Techno-Economic Analysis of Hybrid PV-Diesel for Off-Grid System in Sebira Island,” in The 3rd Conference on Power Engineering and Renewable Energy (ICPERE 2016), Yogyakarta, 2016.
[14] S. R. Khandker, D. F. Barnes and H. A. Samad, “Welfare Impacts of Rural Electirification : A Case Study from Bangladesh,” The World Bank Development Research Group Sustainable Rural and Urban Devlopment Team, 2009.


13 Desember 2017

Sahilaushafnur Rosyadi



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