Igniting the Ring of Fire: a Vision for Developing Indonesia’s Geothermal Power

Early July 2012, Published by WWF-Indonesia, Author: Fitrian Ardiansyah and Ali Ahsat.

WWF-Indonesia released a report, co-authored by Fitrian Ardiansyah and Ali Ashat, entitled “Igniting the Ring of Fire: A Vision for Developing Indonesia’s Geothermal Potential” – an essay that elaborates the challenges and opportunities involved in the development of geothermal energy in Indonesia, as well as gives a picture on their possible workarounds.

For the pdf file of the complete report: please read geothermal_report or alternatively click http://awsassets.wwf.or.id/downloads/geothermal_report.pdf

This report discusses economic, social, policy, financial and environmental aspects of geothermal energy development in Indonesia, including balancing geothermal energy development and forest protection, and setting the price right for geothermal investment.




Understanding Indonesia’s emission cuts inside out

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, Fitrian Ardiansyah, Contributor, Copenhagen, Tue 12/08/2009, Environment

On this second day of two weeks of negotiations at the UN Climate Conference, it is crucial for an emerging economy like Indonesia to fully understand how it is planning to contribute to climate solutions.

With some 20,000 participants involved and the rest of the world observing closely, the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP-13) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will hopefully result in a stronger global climate agreement.

Regardless of what happens in Copenhagen, Indonesia will need to come up with an action plan at the domestic level to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions for its own benefit and the survival of the nation and its people.

On Sept. 25, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated in a speech to G20 leaders that his government was devising a policy to cut GHG emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from “business as usual” (BAU) levels. He expressed confidence that, with international support, Indonesia could cut emissions by as much as 41 percent.

The policy would mix stepping up investment in the energy sector, especially to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as addressing emissions from deforestation and changes in land use, including from forest and land fires.

Since then, there have been attempts to assess the feasibility of this GHG emissions reduction target and provide important steps for Indonesia to reach this goal.

The launching of the Second National Communication (SNC) to the UNFCCC — a report presenting Indonesia’s progress in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation — together with detailed information on Indonesia’s GHG emissions was one of those attempts.

The SNC recorded Indonesia’s GHG emissions were around 594,738 gigagrams (Gg) CO2e in 2000 without land use, land use change, forestry and peat fires (LULUCF), and had significantly increased to about 1,415,988 Gg CO2e with the inclusion of LULUCF.

According to the Environment Ministry, SNC will be used as a reference and basis for the formulation of policies and programs to reach the GHG emissions reduction target declared by the President.

The SNC listed several possible ways Indonesia could reduce its emissions: developing more geothermal and waste energy sources, increasing the efficiency of power plants, reducing illegal logging and restoring production forests.

None of these strategies, however, seems to touch upon the most effective way to reduce GHG emissions in this country.

For instance, many studies have reported that deforestation, peat degradation and forest and land fires are currently the biggest source of GHG emissions in Indonesia. Addressing these is key to reducing the country’s GHG emissions.

GHG emissions in this sector usually come from forests being converted to grow crops, build infrastructure, settlements and set up mining operations; illegal and destructive logging outside and inside legal forest concessions; and forest and land fires to clear space for some agricultural lands.

The government should focus primarily on conserving and using the remaining primary and high conservation value forests and terrestrial ecosystems in a sustainable manner.

This option needs to be prioritized since the deforestation rate still outweighs that of reforestation — the annual rate of deforestation stands at 0.8 to 1.09 million hectares compared to 0.3 to 0.6 million hectares for reforestation.

The government should also prioritize sustainable and responsible land use development, which will take the pressure off forests and peatlands by increasing productivity of existing crop farms and optimizing the use of abandoned lands.

With regards to oil palm, there is no need to expand plantations at the expense of forests and peatlands, if their productivity can be improved. Growth in demand could be met by improving yield on existing plantations by 1.5 to 2.0 percent per year, according to a study conducted by Unilever.

Even if agricultural development requires new lands, various statistics have indicated that between 7 and 14 million hectares of degraded, abandoned and/or idle lands may be used.

Not all of these lands are likely to be available and feasible for development. Hence, comprehensive analysis will be needed to ensure these lands can be sustainably and responsibly developed.

Some governors will have to take strong positions to contribute to this effort.

Last year, the governors of Sumatra’s 10 provinces, along with the Indonesian ministry of forestry, the environment, interior and public works, reached an agreement to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatra and protect areas with high conservation values.

These governors will also work together to develop ecosystem-based spatial plans that will serve as the basis for future development on the island.

Hence, central and local governments need to work together closely to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

In addition, fossil fuel combustions must factor into any strategy to reduce GHG emissions by 26 percent. Although GHG emissions from this sector are currently lower than land use, land use change and forestry, Indonesia’s GHG emissions from the fossil fuel industry are increasing relatively fast.

This is the result of energy consumption growing almost as fast as the country’s GDP, while at the same time GHG emissions in Indonesia have grown faster than GDP. Coal is increasingly used as a source of energy.

Various policy options can be explored, including adjusting pricing policy and undertaking reforms on electricity generation.

The current energy pricing so far has led to irresponsible use of energy sources, and to some extent, rendered some energy sources scarce. It has become difficult to use renewable energy or promote energy efficiency because of the competition with some highly subsidized energy sources, noticeably fossil fuels.

The right pricing policies combined with reforms in electricity generation could provide incentives for actions and investments promoting the use of clean (gas) and renewable resources as well as improve efficiency in power generation, transmission, distribution and consumption.

Overall, the launch of SNC is a first step forward. However, there is a long way to go to ensure Indonesia contributes successfully to mitigating climate change.

A clearer road map and substantial action are required for this country to reach its own goals.   

The writer is program director of climate & energy at WWF-Indonesia, and adjunct lecturer at
Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy. He can be reached at

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Making a case for climate in 100 days

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, Fitrian Ardiansyah, Jakarta   |  Tue, 10 Nov 2009 12:39 PM  |  Environment , page 21

In the midst of a political storm brewing over the arrest of suspended leaders of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) launched a National Summit followed by a week of back-to-back meetings, which resulted in a “100 days” program for his Cabinet.

Overall, the President laid out 45 programs, earmarking 15 as priorities. The 11th on the list of priorities is a program dedicated to addressing climate change and environmental issues.

SBY and his Cabinet have committed to formulating a five-year action plan addressing climate change and environmental degradation. More specifically, the President has put the emphasis on managing forests in a sustainable manner, furthering actions against illegal logging, preventing forest and land fires and preserving the remaining forest protections.

With this program, he hopes Indonesia will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which mostly come from deforestation and forest degradation.

The question remains, nevertheless, whether the upcoming five-year action plan on climate change and the environment will be adequate and sufficient enough to act as a basis for achieving Indonesia’s aspiration outlined in the G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh.

At the G20 meeting, the President stated the government was devising a policy to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from “business as usual” (BAU) levels. The President expressed confidence that, with international support, Indonesia could cut emissions by as much as 41 percent.

SBY added that his administration was committed to changing the status of Indonesia’s forests a net-emitter sector to a net-sink sector by 2030.

Rather than wait “100 days” to achieve its objective, the government can immediately extrapolate and strengthen existing policies, including the National Actions Plan on Mitigation and Adaptation on Climate Change (RAN-MAPI) 2007, which the State Ministry of Development Planning (Bappenas) is currently refining into the Climate Change Road Map.

With regards to deforestation, SBY can declare the remaining peatlands as well as natural and high conservation value forests as critical, hence preventing them from being converted for oil palm, pulpwood, mining or any other land uses.

These lands and forests represent one of the world’s most significant stock of terrestrial carbon and most threatened habitats of endangered species.

The President needs to explore and use policy incentives, as well as request additional bilateral and multilateral assistance to support Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiatives, with an emphasis on building strong forest measuring and monitoring systems and good governance capacities in key forested countries.

The President can request his minister of forestry and other relevant ministers – in partnership with the private sector, civil societies, community groups and with bilateral and multilateral donors – to leverage the resources needed for REDD programs and projects.

Using the existing Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF), the President needs to encourage his Cabinet to coordinate government agencies and private partners’ efforts to save these remaining peatlands and forests through innovative approaches, such as increasing incentives and sustainable financing to avoid deforestation, conservation as well as sustainable management of forests.

These coordinated actions, if planned and carried out properly, will not only enrich SBY’s 100-day program but also gradually address the problems of climate change.

In addition to priority number 11, there are at least three other priorities in this “100 days” program that are linked to climate change and environmental issues.

Priority number four aims at increasing the capability of electricity to meet the energy demands of the industrial and commercial sector, households and transportation for the next five years. In 100 days, the government will map deficiencies in electricity provision for each province.

At various occasions, SBY stated he would devise a policy that would allow Indonesia to fulfill its aspiration to reduce emissions by stepping up investment in the energy sector, especially to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To do this, SBY can ask the minister of energy and mineral resources to develop a policy and incentives framework that will accelerate the development of large-scale renewable energy and the adoption of efficient energy.

An immediate obstacle to using renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency is energy pricing. The energy pricing process in this country needs to be reformed to reflect the total economic value of utilizing respective energy sources.

Energy pricing so far has led to irresponsible use of energy sources, and to some extent, rendered some energy sources scarce. It has become difficult to use renewable energy or promote energy efficiency because of the competition with some highly subsidized energy sources, noticeably fossil fuels.

A fifth priority focuses on food security, in which the government will outline a “grand-design” to achieve self-reliance in several staple foods. The design will depend on supporting factors including irrigation systems, fertilizers, interest subsidies for farmers and research and development.

As Indonesia’s population continues to grow, the government needs to increase its support for long-term agricultural development. The focus should be on developing environmentally friendly, sustainable methods of production – incorporating climate change projections and vulnerability assessments – and on the creation of policies and market institutions benefiting small farmers and the rural poor.

Finally, priority number seven, which deals with the complexity of land use and spatial planning, strongly relates to the 11th priority. In 100 days, the government plans to synergize the overlapping uses and status of land among forestry, mining and the environment. From an institutional point of view, SBY will coordinate actions with different sectors and layers of governments to untangle this challenge.

One immediate option for the government to succeed in achieving this priority is to optimize the use of abandoned lands. Various statistics currently indicate that between 7 and 14 million hectares of land can be considered degraded, abandoned and/or idle.

Not all of these lands are likely to be available for development. Hence, comprehensive analysis will be needed to ensure these lands can be sustainably and responsibly developed, which then takes the pressure off forests and peatlands.

Overall, getting the “100 days” program off the ground will not be easy given the complex challenges we face, especially with regards to climate change.

If these challenges can be dealt with, and concrete options explored as well as incorporated in the government’s policies and actions, prospects for Indonesian development will be much brighter. If these challenges are resolved, a huge opportunity to address climate change will become reality.

The writer is program director of climate & energy at WWF-Indonesia, and adjunct lecturer at Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy. He can be reached at fardiansyah@wwf.or.id

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The new Cabinet and its new climate challenge

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, The Jakarta Post, Fitrian Ardiansyah and Nazir Foead ,  Jakarta   |  Tue, 10/20/2009 10:46 AM  |  Environment

Today Indonesia officially welcomes President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono to lead the country in overcoming its challenges during the next five years. One of the biggest challenges for the re-elected President is climate change.

According to the Indonesian National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management, in 2003 to 2005 alone, climate/hydrological-related disasters accounted for 1,429 cases or 53.3 percent of the total number of disasters that occurred in Indonesia.

Several different studies note that the costs of extreme climate events of the El Niño effect in 1982/1983 and 1997/1998 have reached US$500 million and $375 million, respectively; a shift in the beginning of the wet and dry seasons by one month has caused rice production to fall by 7–18 percent.

Sectors heavily affected by climate change include water, agriculture, forestry, marine/fisheries, health and infrastructure.

At the same time, the country’s contribution to the global level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is gradually increasing, especially if emissions from deforestation including peat land conversion and forest and land fires are taken into account.

In recent years, there has been a marked shift in Indonesia’s energy mix toward high-emissions sources. Most of the increased energy demand is met using coal, the most GHG-intensive fuel, and oil products for transport. This has contributed to approximately 20–30 percent of Indonesia’s GHG emissions.

Therefore, dealing with climate challenge is no regular challenge; rather, it is a daunting task requiring enormous amount of efforts from different sectors, layers of government and various actors in the country.

The President showed he is serious in facing this challenge in a speech to G20 leaders on Sept. 25, in which he stated that the government was devising a policy that would cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from “business as usual” (BAU) levels.

The policy would be a mix of stepping up investment in the energy sector, especially to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy, and addressing emissions from deforestation and changes in land use, including from forest and land fires. The President expressed confidence that, with international support, Indonesia could cut emissions by as much as 41 percent.

He added that his administration is committed to changing the status of Indonesia’s forests a net emitter sector to a net sink sector by 2030.

Although this is encouraging to hear from the leader of one of the largest developing nations, it also raises many questions.

Can Indonesia achieve its aspirations of reducing emissions while maintaining economic growth? Who in the government will be tasked with making sure the targets are clearly defined, action plans are competently designed and the implementations are kept on track?

Will the environment ministry — with the help of National Council on Climate Change — be able to do this, given that 26 percent of the carbon footprint reduction crosses several departments, including agriculture, energy, transportation, forestry, marine and fisheries and public works? Or perhaps we need a new Climate Change Ministry?

Now is a good opportunity for the President to form a Cabinet that can build a solid action plan for each relevant ministry to achieve emissions reduction.

Cabinet plans and programs could include a readiness and execution plan for reducing emissions from deforestation and land-use changes across sectors; a clear action plan for advancing renewable and clean energy; a clear strategy to remove specific regulatory barriers to energy efficiency; and, more importantly, a preparedness strategy to cope with the impacts of climate change and more.

Each minister must then cascade the plans and programs down to his or her directorates general. The next step will be implementation, requiring that someone in each ministry be appointed a “guardian angel” to execute the plan.

This person should be a high-level senior official, such as a director general or someone at the executive level.

In the ministries governing sectors that contribute substantially to Indonesia’s carbon emissions
and that have not already organized an environmental management system, there is a stronger need to form a new Level 1 official tasked with implementing emissions reduction plans.

This approach would ensure President’s plan is mainstreamed in all ministries and Indonesia starts on a low-carbon economy pathway, thus maintaining economic development while ensuring emissions reduction.

Furthermore, the new Environmental Management Act, passed by Parliament on Sept. 8, which will greatly increase the workload for the incoming environment minister, also provides a good starting point for achieving the President’s goals.

The new Act gives the environment minister a stronger mandate to oversee and coordinate sound environmental management with a sufficient budget, implement techniques to prepare for environment-related disasters and find innovative solutions.

The current budget allocated to environmental protection in Indonesia is a mere 0.11 percent of the national one. China, a country many believe does not make much effort for environmental protection, is making big changes. China’s environmental preservation budget allocation is close to 4 percent of its national budget; Sweden’s is 3 percent, Malaysia’s 2 percent and Australia’s 1 percent. In monetary units, Malaysia’s budget is 6.6 times bigger than ours; China’s is 173 times.

Appointing ministers and structuring the ministries of the incoming Cabinet, and later providing sufficient funds to support the reduction of GHG emissions, are early indicators of the Indonesian government’s seriousness in addressing climate change.

Taking the lead in confronting climate change at global level, as shown by the President, can only be “real” if he and his Cabinet demonstrate to the world that they practice at home what the President preaches abroad.

Fitrian is program director of climate & energy at WWF-Indonesia, and adjunct lecturer at Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy. He can be reached at fardiansyah@wwf.or.id. Nazir is director of governance, community and corporate engagement at WWF-Indonesia. He can be reached at nfoead@wwf.or.id.

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Finding the `middle ground’

The Jakarta Post, ROAD TO COPENHAGEN COLUMN, page 23, Wed, 23 September 2009  |  Lifestyle

Copenhagen is fast approaching. The road to achieving a global climate treaty, nevertheless, will be a thorny one.

One of the potential deadlocks will be the negotiations on shared vision – a vision that needs to have the right level of ambition to bring about reductions in emissions that are high enough to ensure the survival of the most vulnerable nations, communities and ecosystems.

A credible scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), provides the lowest mitigation scenario category, which stabilizes greenhouse gas concentrations in the range of 445-490 ppm CO2 equivalent, leading to temperatures of 2 to 2.4 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels in the long term. To achieve this, emission reductions for industrialized countries have to be at the high end of the IPCC – 25 to 40 percent reduction.

Prior to the Copenhagen COP (Conference of Parties)-15 of the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) this December, different individual countries and major blocks of countries have stated their targets. However, the current proposed emission targets rather befit temperature rises of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, an inconsistency that threatens the survival of entire nations and precious ecosystems around the world.

For instance, EU member states committed themselves to cutting the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, with a promise to move to 30 percent if other industrialized countries follow suit.

The new Japanese government has recently moved its target from an 8 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 on 1990 levels to a 25 percent reduction, provided that the upcoming international agreement includes big developing countries like China and India.

Other industrialized countries, including the US, have yet to come up with stronger targets. As the only Annex I country that is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, leadership from the US is needed. The country must join a strong new international agreement in Copenhagen by adopting an economy-wide quantified emission reduction commitment, reflecting its history as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Based on the overall compilation of national data, industrialized nations are planning average cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of between 10 and 14 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as part of a new UN climate pact. This falls sharply short of what the science has suggested.

As mentioned by Japan and echoed by many industrialized countries, there is significant pressure on newly industrialized countries such as South Korea and Saudi Arabia to take quantified emissions limitation and reduction commitments and on key developing countries (e.g., China, India, Brazil, South Africa and increasingly Indonesia) to also reduce their emissions to less than business as usual by 2020.

This is not an easy subject to negotiate. On the one hand, it is recognized that to achieve the goal of keeping global temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius, involvement and contribution of developing countries are key. On the other hand, developing countries have less historical responsibility and capability to act, and hence they require adequate finance, technology and capacity-building support from industrialized countries.

To have this sort of trade-off, developing countries can put forward Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). Developing countries’ actions, as a group, should aim to achieve the emission reductions required, while at the same time leading to the poverty eradication, meeting the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring the right to overall sustainable development.

The group of developing countries has the potential to reduce their actual emissions substantially reaching to 30 percent of deviation below a business as usual (BAU) pathway by 2020, including REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), provided they receive relevant support from industrialized countries.

The plans to reduce emissions in developing countries should be based on their respective capacities, targeting the heaviest polluters in the country including power generation, deforestation, transport and the built environment. Building from the bottom up, these plans and actions are likely to include policies, measures and perhaps sectoral agreements.

These plans and actions should not be perceived as burdens but as an opportunity for job creation and a healthy society, setting the world on a development path that can be sustained over a long period.

Industrialized countries, therefore, should commit considerable funds to cover the costs of preparing these immediately.

Industrialized and developing countries can all be change agents, but key countries from both sides need to be more proactive and get beyond the finger pointing. Both sides need to understand better each other’s key objectives, concerns, aspirations and responsibilities.

More than ever, there is a need for game-changing interventions.

The statement from the British prime minister arguing for the need to offer finance – US$100 billion a year by 2020 – to poorer countries to enable them to begin the transition to low-carbon development and adaptation, for example, is a good starting point, signaling “willingness” by industrialized countries to support developing countries.

The plan by Chinese President Hu, at the United Nations and G20 summits next week, to voice a position on climate change, in particular calling for stronger international efforts on climate change, and to introduce the new measures that China is taking, could well be seen as the “willingness” from developing countries to contribute to climate change solutions.

If other industrialized and key developing countries, including Indonesia, follow these moves and go beyond rhetoric – and putting trust in the joint understanding that all parties will do their fair share to deal with this crisis – we may achieve a desired global climate agreement in Copenhagen. Climate change now really depends on “good” politics from all parties involved.

– Fitrian Ardiansyah

The writer is program director of climate and energy at WWF-Indonesia. He can be reached at fardiansyah@wwf.or.id.

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