Strong Chinese presence at Renewables Indonesia

The Renewables exhibition is being held parallel to the ConBuild Mining Indonesia 2012 event, and day one saw a steady stream of visitors on both sides of the trade hall, where more than 200 exhibitors from the building and renewable energy sectors displayed their wares and services.

Those interested in the construction, building and mining exhibits also showed interest in renewable energy, as they saw the potential of weaving photovoltaics into infrastructure development, as well as an alternative energy source for their sectors, which amass high energy bills.

Managing director and CEO of MMI Asia (Messe München International), Ronald Unterburger and Indonesian Minister of Public Works, Djoko Kirmanto opened the trade fair after their respective speeches. Kirmanto highlighted that the Renewables Indonesia 2012 fair will give meaningful support to accelerate the development of renewable energy in Indonesia. He added that a wide spectrum of green technologies will be on display and that these can then be adapted to local conditions in the country.

Renewable switch

Energy supply is currently a much debated topic in the capital and country, and the over 200 million populated chain of islands has a mighty thirst for electricity. Fossil fuels are available, but dwindling, and the utilities are not going to be able to meet demand in a few years. However, with more than 90 percent of energy coming from conventional sources, the switch to renewables is not going to be easy.

Fortunately, Indonesia is already on the path to replacing its diminishing oil supply. The country has made the transition from a strong energy export nation to an import country: the lack of investment and aging sources saw it detaching itself from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). Natural gas production has also fallen in the last few years. Thus, the Indonesian government has set a target of procuring 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

This was also emphasized by Unterburger: "Indonesia is one of the most important energy markets." He added that strong foreign investment is needed to provide the right support infrastructure. MMI hopes the trade fair will provide a suitable platform for this exchange of information and the formation of partnerships. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration further sees Indonesia as one of the few countries offering high renewable energy potential.

Chinese presence

Amongst the exhibitors for photovoltaic solutions, the bulk was Chinese. The powerhouses, like Trina Solar and JinkoSolar showed the clear interest manufacturers from China have in sunny Indonesia. Meanwhile, Samil Power, Beijing EPsolar Technology, APP Systems and Solarland were among the inverter companies also present to pursue their interests in Indonesia.

EPsolar’s Cris Du explained that Chinese companies see Indonesia as a market that can potentially boom in terms of photovoltaics. The Beijing-based generator controller and systems manufacturer already has a few projects in Indonesia, and hopes to further expand its capacity and presence in the country.

JinkoSolar chose this event as the spot to introduce its new Solar Home System or SHS, which provides independent power for home owners. The SHS comes with modules, support structure, charge controller with pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT)and two or more electrochemical batteries. JinkoSolar’s Max Kuan told pv magazine that he sees potential in the installation of such complete home systems in the region. "The SHS can work both off- and on-grid," he said.

A large percentage of homes in Indonesia are on islands and off the grid, and this is where photovoltaic power becomes useful. Hence, Jinko Solar decided to promote its new product in the region first. Kuan added that the Asia Pacific region has tremendous potential for photovoltaics, and that more experienced companies can benefit by expanding into markets like that in Indonesia, where photovoltaic power is only now starting to find its place in the energy mix.

Leoni’s George Lim agreed, adding that education and exposure is very much needed in the country and region in terms of quality and efficiency of photovoltaic components. Leoni had on display its solar cables, the Betaflam, which has already achieved success in the European market. Lim stated that it is important for manufacturers in the region to understand the need for good quality components that go into making the complete modules. Pumping money into cells will not reap any benefits, if the smaller components like cables and connectors are bought on a meager budget.

The first day seemed successful for many, as the scores of visitors who came for ConBuild Mining also saw the importance of incorporating renewable energy into their practices.And, while the trade fair may not attract as many photovoltaic exhibitors and solar-focused visitors as others in the region, like SNEC or Asia Solar, the potential synergy between infrastructure development and renewable energy is something these parallel exhibitions seem to have triggered off.