Power Plant Development
Eastern Indonesia had been under focus since President Jokowi took office in 2014. Through Governmental Regulation Number31/2016, President Jokowi made Sorong as KEK (Kawasan Ekonomi Khusus/Special Economic Zone). As a special economic zone, Sorong will attract the various industrial company to build their plant in the area. The upcoming industrialization of this area will create a rising demand for electricity. To accommodate the demand, the government already planned to build several power plants in the area. The National Electricity Company (Perusahaan Listrik Negara/PLN) planned to deliver two gas engine power plants in Sorong with expected construction to finish in 2018 and 2019.
PLN also planned to develop the electricity transmission line in the area to further expand the network coverage. With the planned transmission line expansion, even more, the area will be opened to become the industrial location. Furthermore, with the network expansion, PLN will be able to connect even more household to the grid connection. In Figure 1, we can see the planned development for electricity transmission by PLN. Then grid will connect several major cities close to Sorong and extend the grid further by 20 km. The grid extension of this area is expected to finish by 2018.
Figure 1 Electricity Transmission Roadmap for the Sorong area, West Papua (PT PLN (Persero), 2017)
One of the main issues in West Papua is the low electrification ratio, especially in the remote village and the remote military outpost. The electrification ratio for West Papua Province is estimated to be 60.78% in 2012 and was increased to 96.77% in the first quarter of 2018. This figure is still lower than the national average of 97.50%. However, in 2017, there were still more than 250 villages (16.08%) without electricity. The main challenges for the village’s electrification are the electricity transmission infrastructure which is still limited to the big cities such as Sorong and Manokwari. From Figure 1 and Figure 2 we can see that the electricity transmission of West Papua Province does not reach the remote area.
Figure 2 Electricity Transmission Roadmap for the Manokwari area, West Papua (PT PLN (Persero), 2017)
The extreme geographical condition also challenges the transmission line development, especially since the villages are located in the mountainous region of the province. To overcome this challenge, the government implemented the Energy Efficient Solar Lamp (Lampu Tenaga Surya Hemat Energy/LTSHE) program in 2017. The LTSHE program aims to provide basic electricity powered by the solar panel to the remote village in the form of lighting as well as phone charging using USB ports. The program distributed 16,394 LTSHE package in more than 262 villages in West Papua. Although the LTSHE program was able to provide basic electricity to the villages, further works need to be done to provide these villages with the minimum electricity requirement as described in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by the United Nation (UN) (United Nation, 2014). To provide these villages with more electricity, it is believed that renewable energy using indigenous resources is the answer. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources aims to develop renewable energy power plant to electrify these villages, especially using micro-hydro power plant and solar power plant. Using the renewable energy sources, the plant will be able to provide significant electricity supply to the villages without the need of lengthy transmission from the main grid.
Military Base Electrification
Another ongoing project by the current government in West Papua is the assignment of the Third Naval Command in Sorong. The assignment will strengthen Indonesian Defense Belt, especially in the border close to the Pacific Ocean. There are three critical aspects in building a military outpost: 1) Water; 2) Electricity; 3) Communication (Yusgiantoro, 2018). These three aspects are the basic need in empowering a military outpost and will need to be provided to support the military activity. The most common source of electricity in the military outpost in Indonesia came from a diesel generator. However, with Indonesian archipelagic geography, the cost of diesel fuel transportation to these outposts became relatively huge. Similar to the remote villages, indigenous energy such as solar will be able to provide electricity to these outposts. Furthermore, using the electricity provided by the indigenous energy, the outpost will be able to power water pump as well as telecommunication facilities.
With the government’s determination to develop eastern Indonesia, Sorong is expected to undergo rapid development. As designated KEK, more industries will be attracted to invest in Sorong and thus increasing the demand for electricity and pushing the government to increase the power plant capacity in Sorong. The capacity increase is expected to benefit people living in Sorong as it would mean a reliable supply of electricity will be coming to Sorong. However, the government will still need to step up their efforts in Sorong electrification, especially in the remote area. Although the LTSHE program was able to provide basic electricity, the program was only able to provide basic lighting and telecommunication services. Further development and utilization of indigenous energy resources are still needed in order to provide these areas with sufficient electricity. Additionally, indigenous energy is also able to provide a solution to a remote military base’s electricity demand which will support the nation’s security.
PT PLN (Persero). (2017, April 10). Rencana Usaha Penyediaan Tenaga Listrik (RUPTL) PLN 2017 – 2026.
United Nation. (2014, April 23). Universal Electrification Access. Retrieved from United Nation Web site: https://unite.un.org/sites/unite.un.org/files/app-desa-electrification/index.html
Yusgiantoro, P. (2018, September 18). Konsep Energi Pertahanan. Universitas Pertahanan, Jawa Barat, Sentul, Bogor.
* This opinion piece is the author(s) own and does not necessarily represent opinions of the Purnomo Yusgiantoro Center (PYC)