Increasing prosperity and a rising demand for energy in Indonesia mean opportunity for solar

May 19, 2014 by Jochem Vreeman

Partly thanks to the work of Angele Reinders of the University of Twente, a new system for photovoltaic (PV) solar energy has been developed on the Indonesian island of Papua. Due to Indonesia's enormous growth and rising prosperity, the demand for electricity is also increasing. Solar energy provides an answer. During the past two years, the UT has collaborated with the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Cenderawasih University, the World Wildlife Fund and various local installers in order to develop the PV system on the island. Training courses on solar energy were also set up.

"Till three years ago, Indonesia had hardly any experience with that were connected to the grid," says Reinders. The senior lecturer from the department of Design, Production and Management (Faculty of Engineering Technology) and expert in the field of solar energy saw with her own eyes how the energy supply was organized in the country.

Together with UT PhD candidate Hans Veldhuis, she spent some time in the city of Jayapura. "Due to the growing demand for capacity, the local electricity network suffers from many blackouts andnoisy and polluting diesel generators dominate the street view. In remote areas of Papua, the province on the island of New Guinea where I was, diesel was flown in for generators. The local population sometimes used solar home systems, but these were mainly designed to supply electricity to only one household. We have now reached the point where a feed-in tariff of 25 to 30 dollar cents per generated kWh is being paid for generated . This is a payment for the supply of solar power to the grid. Such an amount makes it considerably more attractive to connect such a PV system to the grid. This is due the fact that you can earn money after a payback period of about eight years: each kWh equals about 25 cents."

Enormous savings on diesel and coal

Reinders received 700,000 euros from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency to develop grid-connected PV systems in Indonesia. The programme focuses on education, knowledge transfer, networking and research. So far, the results have been very positive. "The system produces about 50,000 kWh of electricity per year. This equals a saving of 5,000 litres of diesel and 11,000 kilos of coal per year. The CO2 emission reduction is also gigantic," said the head of Jayapura Environmental Agency in the Jakarta Post newspaper. The project drew a lot of attention in the Indonesian media.

"A pilot plant has been installed in Papua, we have provided training courses in the field of solar energy, and there is now a monitoring system for the PV system," continues Reinders. "Using the solar energy system, the local town hall is now largely self-sufficient regarding its energy needs. At the ITB institute, ten professors are now working on solar energy and more Indonesian engineers are being trained."

Indonesian students

A number of these engineers are now following the double degree programme of the master's in Sustainable Energy Technology, which has been set up by Prof. Theo van der Meer (Faculty of Engineering Technology) of the University of Twente. Reinders: "Moreover, an Indonesian PhD candidate will join the department of Design, Production and Management and focus on the stimulation of in her country. So although the project has officially been completed, we certainly will continue to work on this topic."

About Angele Reinders

Angele Reinders executes research into the application of renewable energy in products, households and buildings. She uses a design-driven approach for which reason many of her projects are 'high tech with a human touch'. Examples include Virtue of Blue, a solar-powered chandelier that she developed together with Dutch design studio DeMakersVan, innovative designs for solar-powered boats in Friesland and the improvement of energy products in smart energy homes. At the University of Twente, Reinders is also involved in the realization of renewable energy projects on the energy-neutral campus by means of the PV test bench on the Citadel building and the PV system that has been installed on the roof of the Horst building. In addition to her appointment at the University of Twente, she also holds a position of part-time professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design at Delft University of Technology.

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