Sustainable planning for sustainable power in North Sulawesi and the APEC zone

Give someone a fishing rod and they eat for a lifetime. Give someone incomplete instructions for building a rod and they might never see a fish.

There have been numerous studies in Bitung, North Sulawesi, that have made recommendations around how to implement a low-carbon approach, but “little has been achieved,” says Dr Ariel Liebman of Monash University, “mainly due to the outputs not being detailed enough to be turned into a practical plan by those ultimately responsible.”

“This is what our project will remedy,” says Dr Liebman, an Australia-Indonesia Centre Energy Cluster co-lead who is also leading a new capacity-building project funded by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The good news is that North Sulawesi has not only enormous renewable potential and two renewable energy plants already in action, but the City of Bitung and the provincial government are committed to renewable development and keen to attract sustainable industry to the area.

This project is building on previous APEC studies, and aiming to identify the optimal mix of new power generation and energy efficiency for achieving the lowest possible cost and the lowest possible greenhouse emissions.

It will also develop the local expertise necessary to thoroughly plan these energy systems, and to meet the district’s obligation to report its annual future energy development plan to the National Energy Council.

Through the project the provincial government will be assisted in developing a planning group with both a sound understanding of renewable energy, energy efficiency potential and integration, and the authority to implement policy and programs.

APEC project manager Gabriele Sartori addresses the Manado workshop on 28 March 2018. (Credit: Ariel Liebman.)

Manado workshop

After a kick-off meeting in February in Jakarta the project began with a capacity building workshop in Manado on 28 March 2018 organised by APEC project manager Gabriele Sartori. It brought together APEC energy experts from around the world, AIC researchers, as well as provincial and national government policy officials (from Ministry of Energy, Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, National Energy Council and national electricity utility PLN) and Jakarta-based energy system modelling consultants Castlerock. Supporting the workshop was AIC Energy Cluster Indonesia liaison Andre Susanto, an Indonesian expert in remote electrification.

The workshop was designed to enable stakeholder collaboration, and explore the enormous renewable energy opportunities in North Sulawesi, as well as address potential hurdles such as a lack of reliable information on future industry (and therefore, energy demands) in the area.

During the workshop, researchers and ministry representatives tour the Bitung Special Economic Zone, hydro and geothermal power plants and Bitung harbour. The debrief meeting after these visits helped identify the different roles local and national stakeholders play in supporting the project and consultants Castlerock.

Modelling experts from the local university in Manado, Universitas Sam Ratulangi (UNSRAT), and the local government agency BAPPEDA, in charge of energy reporting, will be trained to use and further develop the resulting model. The modelling results will be published on the new project website to be shared with APEC economies.

Dr Liebman’s fellow AIC Energy Cluster partner Dr Pekik Argo Dahono from Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) joined the talks, with ITB well-placed to take a continued role in North Sulawesi’s development.

“Looking ahead, AIC researchers could provide a lot of expert support to the North Sulawesi region,” Dr Liebman says, “including further modelling advice and more detailed energy efficiency and energy demand management pathways.”

The Asia-Pacific

With Bitung and North Sulawesi as a case study, a key project outcome is its intended use throughout the Asia-Pacific region to support ‘equitable access to sustainable energy for remote communities’. Specific benefits to APEC economies include: a comprehensive model for energy systems planning, an online forum for sharing the model and other resources, and policy-linked action plans for the electrification of edge-of-grid towns.

The model and planning frameworks developed will form the cornerstone of the practical information the project provides for implementing low emission and cost- and energy-efficient electrification in APEC communities and regions. The step-by-step methods and model will support local governments, energy providers, businesses and finance institutions with their planning, project roll-outs and policy development.