Renewable energy a new hope for RI

Sven Teske, Jakarta

The Engineering Center of the University of Indonesia and Greenpeace have developed a blueprint to secure Indonesia's energy supply for the next generation.

The Energy (R)evolution Scenario demonstrates that renewable energy is not a dream for the future -- it is real, mature and can be deployed on a large scale. Decades of technological progress have seen renewable energy technologies such as small hydropower plants, wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, biomass power plants and solar thermal collectors move steadily into the mainstream.

The global market for renewable energy is growing dramatically. In 2005 its turnover was US$38 billion, 26 percent more than the previous year.

The window for making the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is relatively short. Within the next decade Indonesia's electricity demand will rise and many power plants will have to be built. Energy efficiency can slow down the rising demand, but new power generation will still be needed.

A decision taken to construct a coal power plant today will result in the production of CO2 emissions lasting until 2050. So whatever plans are made by power utilities over the next few years will define the energy supply of the next generation. At the same time prices for oil, gas and coal are going through the roof; the debate on the causes for the rise and their impacts on national and international economies rage in the global media; and more and more people are witnessing the negative impact of fossil fuels on the world's climate, the economy and everyday lives.

Renewable energy could provide as much as 47 percent of Indonesia's electricity needs by 2030 -- more than three times what is being produced today. There are no technical barriers but political will is needed to promote its large scale deployment in all sectors on a local and national level, coupled with far reaching energy efficiency measures.

By choosing renewable energy and energy efficiency, Indonesia can virtually stabilize the country's CO2 emissions, whilst at the same time increase energy consumption through economic growth. OECD countries will have to reduce their emissions by up to 80 percent.

There is no need to sit in the dark for this to happen. Strict technical standards will ensure that only the most efficient fridges, heating systems, computers and vehicles will be on sale. Consumers have a right to buy products that do not increase their energy bills and will not destroy the climate.

Due to the growing demand for power, Indonesia is facing a significant increase in society's expenditure on electricity supply. With an undiminished growth in demand, the increase in fossil fuel prices and the costs of CO2 emissions will together result in electricity supply costs of around $59 billion in 2050.

The Energy [R]evolution scenario not only complies with global CO2 reduction targets but also helps to relieve the economic pressure on society. Increasing energy efficiency and shifting energy supply to renewable energy resources will reduce the long term costs for electricity supply by nearly 30 percent. It becomes obvious that following stringent environmental targets in the energy sector also pays off in terms of economics.

The global propaganda machine of the nuclear industry is currently running full throttle. But it is becoming clearer and clearer that nuclear power is no solution to climate change: Nuclear power is too slow, too dangerous and too expensive. Average cost over-run for nuclear plants currently under construction globally is in the order of 300 percent. Average construction time for nuclear reactors in the 1970s was 66 months and for reactors completed between 1995 and 2000 was 116 months, or about 10 years. There is no point to waste any more time and money in this false solution.

For the sake of a sound environment, political stability and thriving economies, now is the time to commit to a truly secure and sustainable energy future -- a future built on clean technologies, economic development and the creation of millions of new jobs.

The writer is a renewable energy expert at Greenpeace International. He can be reached at
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