Micro and mini-grids to bring power to Indonesia’s off-grid communities

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The government of Indonesia – and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – will implement a micro and mini-grid program for the island nation’s less electrified areas.

Indonesia is seeking mini and micro-grid specialists for the scheme. The selected consultants will create a plan to be provided by the ADB to Indonesia’s national development planning agency BAPPENAS (the Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional) for its National Medium‐Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2020-2024.

In a statement, the ADB said that, according to a recent study it conducted, PV mini-grids are the least-cost option for 22% of households outside the grid buffer in Papua Maluku.

“Indonesia’s electrification push needs to go hand in hand with the increase in the share of new and renewable energy which, except for grid extension, would be in most cases the least cost and most sustainable option for the electrification of small islands and remote areas,” said the ADB.

Renewables to bring light and power

The plan, expected to be finalized by June, will be directed in particular to the Maluku-Papua region, in eastern Indonesia. “[A] key focus will be on identifying utilization of local solar resources, as well as micro-hydro, for the communities in the region,” the ADB said.

According to the international development bank, around 10 million people – 15% of the Indonesian population – had no access to electricity in 2016.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources launched the $3 billion Bright Indonesia program at the same time as announcing the mini grid plan. The lighting program aims to use renewable power to illuminate eastern provinces such as Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, and east and west Nusa Tenggara by the end of next year.

Indonesia inaugurated its first three solar-plus-storage mini-grids in June. In April 2017, the country introduced a new policy for solar and renewables.