Energy Research 2014-2018

The Energy Cluster asked the question, ‘What is the best way to transition from fossil fuels to the energy sources of the future?’ Its particular focus was remote and rural Indonesia, where about 67 million people are living off the grid, either using expensive non-renewable power such as diesel, or going without altogether. Australia too has many remote Indigenous, mining and small-island communities.

Energy projects explored small-scale solutions involving microgrids. Researchers looked at how to make these options sustainable for remote communities, and found it was important to meet community aspirations, provide training for ongoing management of the microgrid, and to take into account long-term costs when arranging financing.

The Cluster also investigated national scale strategy development. Aspects of this work included:

  • Modelling the installation of microgrids, looking at optimal technologies, timing, financing and management arrangements, and legal requirements. The Cluster ran a seminar in Sulawesi about how best to approach renewables in the region, with researchers, business and government representatives providing advice and insights.
  • Assessing the viability of larger renewable power grids in remote locations, linked using high-voltage DC cables and stabilised with pumped hydro energy storage. Researchers found that solar energy and pumped hydro sites were abundant in both Australia and Indonesia.
  • The Indonesian Energy Technology Assessment. This projected the potential cost of generating power using each of 14 different technologies between now and 2050, modelling for Indonesian conditions. This study will assist energy planning in Indonesia and bring the Australian and Indonesian energy markets closer together, as a similar assessment has been run in Australia.

Cluster researchers from the Australian National University, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Universitas Hasanuddin (in Sulawesi), the University of Sydney, and the University of NSW shared their findings with government and industry stakeholders at workshops in Canberra and Melbourne in July 2018.

Key achievements

  • Creating a detailed Indonesian energy technology assessment (IETA) projecting the future cost of generating power via different technologies. The report will help planners and policy makers make informed decisions about the future of Indonesia’s energy network. It was presented at a forum at the Australian Embassy Jakarta in 2018.
  • Securing funding APEC funding for the project titled “Integrated energy system planning for equitable access to sustainable energy for remote communities in the APEC regions using North Sulawesi as a pilot project/testbed.” Researchers from Monash, Institut Teknologi Bandung and Institut Pertanian Bogor are engaging with communities in North Sulawesi, City of Bitung and Universitas Sam Ratulangi to model a Low Carbon Model Town initiative.
  • Attracting a A$100,000 commitment from CWP Renewables, a global company with business activities in both Australia and Indonesia.
  • Working with the  European Climate Foundation fund to develop a state-of-the art analysis of the renewable transformation potential for the Java-Bali power system.
  • Building deep and lasting research networks between Australian and Indonesian academics and institutions.
  • Evaluating the potential for biofuel use and production in Indonesia’s future energy mix.
  • Developing models for the design and installation of microgrids in remote communities, taking into account specific economic, social and cultural factors, and examining the impacts of electrification.
  • Creating robust models for the integration of clean-energy microgrids into large-scale transmission systems.
  • Developing a novel method of measuring fouling on a ship’s hull, a technology with the potential to deliver significant widespread economic and environmental benefits to the global transport industry.
  • Evaluating options for large-scale generation and storage of renewable energy, including identification of potential pumped hydro energy storage sites, and enumerating the benefits of deep decarbonisation of the Indonesian economy.
  •  Cluster co-lead and Deputy Director of Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute Dr Ariel Liebman and co-leads from Universitas Hasanuddin in Makassar and Institut Teknologi Bandung led presentations from a wide range of researchers aiming to shape policies and advance technologies to help reach Indonesia’s renewable energy targets set by President Joko Widodo’s government.