Building coalitions to support community empowerment through renewable energy and livelihood solutions

This project explored the development of community-scale renewable energy initiatives in remote and regional areas to support local needs and aspirations with appropriate technologies and complementary sustainable livelihoods. Through collaboration with multiple stakeholders, the project established a template for bringing community organisations together with industry, government, and research institutions to identify and implement local solutions. From an initial case study in Indonesia, the project will connect with comparable Australian initiatives to build a bilateral coalition of community-oriented, research-driven solutions to contemporary challenges in energy and sustainable development.

This project’s objectives were:

  • To establish a coalition of Indonesian and Australian organisations to develop community-centred renewable energy and livelihood solutions in a remote Indonesian community.
  • To develop a template for identifying community needs, aspirations, and opportunities relating to renewable energy provision and novel livelihood opportunities in remote and regional contexts.
  • To produce high-impact outputs including peer-reviewed journal articles, media content, and engaged partnerships for further funding and development initiatives.

This project investigated community-scale renewable energy electrification initiatives in Indonesia. Three phases of field work were conducted to collect data. The first activities were undertaken in November 2016 to establish relationships with participating communities in West Java, and to collect data on local livelihood needs and aspirations. A second round of field work in February 2017 involved evaluating community-scale renewable energy options in two case study sites from the first field work – Cinta Mekar and Ponggang. The results of this second research trip were modelled using HOMER software. A final round of field work was conducted in Morotai in North Maluku in June 2017. This area was chosen for its contrasting geographical and demographic features relative to West Java. Morotai also rose above other potential sites with similar features due to its importance in wider AIC and Indonesian government planning. Interviews were conducted with community members in Cinta Mekar and Ponggang, and biophysical data collected to inform the HOMER modelling of hybrid renewable energy options for both case study sites.

Overall, this project produced several outcomes. These include:

  • A bilateral, multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research team that collaborated productively to engage diverse stakeholders from industry, government, civil society, and community sectors.
  • An evidence-based understanding of community needs and aspirations relevant to energy in representative rural and remote areas of Indonesia.
  • An evidence-based understanding of policy, regulatory, economic, and cultural constraints and enablers of community renewable energy in Indonesia.
  • An empirically derived template process to collaboratively develop and implement renewable energy in remote communities, which is more likely to achieve long-term sustainability outcomes than current practices. 
  • Generating networks and relationships to support future research and development activities that will build on the knowledge gained through this project. 

The research team has formed strong interpersonal links and developed new levels of cultural and academic understanding. The team are producing high-impact publications based on the research, and actively exploring opportunities for next steps and further collaboration. The applied, transdisciplinary nature of the project has resulted in the formation of important and valuable relationships and networks, and the team are working to maintain and extend these into the future. 



Journal articles

Anggoro, Y., Thomas, S., Richter, M., Prabawaningtyas, S., Ariani, Lestari, W., Graham. (Submitted 2018). Policy frameworks and business interests: perspectives on community-scale renewable energy in Indonesia and Australia. Target journals: Nature Energy; Energy Policy; Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 

Thomas, S., Richter, M., Anggoro, Y., Prabawaningtyas, S., Ariani, Lestari, W. (Submitted 2018). Sustainable energy for development: a template process for meeting livelihood needs in rural Indonesian communities. Target journals: Nature Energy; World Development; Energy for Development

Nguyen, Thomas, S., Lestari, W., Prabawaningtyas, S., Anggoro, Y., Richter, M. (Submitted 2018). Livelihood pathways through community-scale renewable energy in West Java. Target journals: Nature Energy; World Development