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Indonesia Could Repay Its Debt Using Solar Power

Indonesia is blessed with abundant sources of renewable energy, but experts and activists warn that the government is not doing enough to utilize them. Although harnessing renewable energy — especially solar power — is costly, it can help repay debt and create jobs.

In October this year, European Union leaders made a statement requesting Greece to pay off its debt through solar farms that will transmit electricity across Europe. Solar power that can be used is solar photovoltaic in which it generates electricity directly from the sun's energy.

Solar photovoltaic is a combination of two words: "photo," from Greek, which means light, and "voltaic" which is the unit to measure electric potential at any given point.

Solar photovoltaic, or known as solar PV, is one of renewable energy sources which uses cells to convert solar radiation into electricity. The cell consists of one or two layers of a semi-conducting material. When sun shines on the cell, it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow. The greater intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity is.

Solar PV project needs less investor to start the project because the startup cost is not as big as solar thermal project. Solar thermal project taps the sun to heat up a fluid that eventually drives a turbine. Solar thermal typically deploys fields of mirrors and is also known as concentrating solar thermal power (CSP). Thus, it needs bigger amount of money compared to solar PV.

Drawing on examples from the above scenario, Indonesia could follow suit to pay its debt. According to a September 2012 data released by Indonesia's central bank, the country's total amount of debt is US$244 million.

Indonesia can use solar photovoltaic project to send electricity to lender countries. Although it needs extra money — it costs around $250,000/km — to purchase high-voltage direct current transmission cables to transfer the electricity, if the project turns out successful, it's going to be worth it. Therefore, Indonesia can divert its national budget allocation for debt to other sectors such as education and health.

This project could be a new industry: it could create green jobs. The solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, and offers tremendous opportunities for workers from all backgrounds.

According to Solar Energy Industry Association, the most recent census in the US found that the solar industry employed over 100,000 people in August 2011, and that solar jobs were growing at over ten times the rate of the overall US economy.

It can also help Indonesia to achieve its renewable energy target. According to 2000-2005 National Energy Blueprint, Indonesia sets a goal to install 6.7 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity by increasing the proportion of renewable energy from 7 percent to 15 percent of total energy production in 2025.

Indonesia can begin working on the solar PV project since it receives massive sunlight along the year. According to Energy Policy Review of Indonesia, solar power is potential for 4,8 kWh/m2/day, meaning it’s highly likely to be implemented in Indonesia.

Through this project, Indonesia can also improve security of energy supply in a variety of ways, including reducing dependence on important fuels, diversifying supply, enhancing the national balance of trade and reducing vulnerability to price fluctuation. A high penetration rate of variable renewable energy into electricity systems can create new energy security issues. Thus, this Solar PV Project is very promising for Indonesia.

To build this project, Indonesia can invite investors that are interested in this project. The Sharp Corporation, for instance, has shown interests to cooperate with the Indonesian government to develop 100 MW of solar photovoltaic in Indonesia.

I suppose Indonesia can attract more investors for this project if it deploys some renewable energy policies such as feed-in tariffs, renders, etc. and also if the government creates support policies such as Research Development and Demonstration policies (supply-push policy), Market Deployment Policies and General Energy Market Policies (demand-pull policies).

(Source: Jakarta Globe)


The Sharp Corporation