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Government Begins Energy Efficiency and Conservation Drives

Driven by looming energy crisis that could seriously threat the country’s strives for sustainable development, the government of President Joko Widodo begins to realize the strategic importance of energy efficiency and conservation efforts.

For decades, the energy price, be it  electricity or fuel,  has been kept relatively low by subsidies provided since the beginning of the Suharto era in the late sixties. The subsidies were meant primarily to make the energy affordable to the massive number of  poor and low income group citizens of that time, but overtime the amount had been rising to significance.  Not only that, the previous governments had seen the country’s energy resources like oil, coals and natural gas, as the primary sources of income in foreign currency to finance the country’s rapid development. Exports of oil and gas had since become a necessity by national government to focus on and  keep the development engines running.

As a result, the country’s vital resources  have been depleting rapidly during the last four decades, while Indonesia’s drive for development toward achieving the status of “developed” country lead the ever increasing needs for energy. This situation has made Indonesia gradually becoming a net importer of oil products since the last 20 years, and today, the number of import has reached the same level of the national production around 800,000 bbl oils per day. Meanwhile, the emergence of renewable energy in the world has not been considered seriously by the governments until the second half of the last decade, while subsidies to fossil fuels are becoming bigger and bigger burden to the national budget.  In 2006 the government set a target of 17 % of the national energy mix by 2020 contributed by renewable energy, but lacking serious efforts to achieve the goal has made the ” energy road map” as it was popularly named, a cynical talk object among renewable energy stakeholders.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono ( SBY) was trying to be  more attentive to renewable energy  in the new  “road map”, established by the National Energy Council, a body mandated by the existing  Energy Law. The new strategic plan was completed in 2013, but SBY had signed it into a Government Regulation only a view weeks before he stepped down in 2014. SBY had obviously seen the new plan could  be reviewed again by the new government elected in late 2014. Under the new Plan, clean and renewable energy were set to contribute 23 % of  total energy mix by 2025. The new Energy Plan looks more credible than its predecessor, but stakeholders and observers alike still argued whether the target is still achievable by the new government.

The current government under President Joko Widodo ( Jokowi) is realizing that Indonesia, by many being considered a large emerging economy, needs to catch-up with building massive infrastructure including power producing facilities, if it will reach its ambition to becoming a “developed” country by 2050. Within this realization, the government set a plan to build additional power capacity of 35,000 MW slated to be completed by 2019. The significant number of the new facilities to be built has been a subject of a heated debate among experts, and surprisingly also among Jokowi’s cabinet ministers.

But, asides from the controversies about the feasibility of building such a huge number of new power plants, almost everybody is still talking only about the “supply side” of the energy equation. Only a view is emphasizing the significance of managing the “demand side” to help achieve the national state of energy security for sustainable development. These relatively subtle voices have finally been heard by the government. Energy efficiency efforts are part of the emerging ‘demand response’ strategy to help a country meet its energy needs, while Energy Conservation ( being one of the results of energy efficiency measures) is the only thinkable way to preserve the increasingly scarce fossil energy for the future generations. Making serious efforts in energy efficiency is also the way of increasing the energy relative productivity to fuel the sustainable development.

National Campaign on Energy Efficiency and Conservation.

Along the line of the  new thinking about energy efficiency and conservation, we welcome the government’s plan to embark into a national ‘campaign’ in promoting energy saving efforts by society to help meet the national energy imperatives. This ‘campaign’  is meant primarily to improve the public awareness of the importance of ‘energy saving’ for the future, and abandon the ‘abundant’ mentality and practices in using energy, which leads to much ‘energy wasting’ and unproductive use of valuable energy. The government plans to deploy significant number of young officials ( new recruits of civil servants within the Ministry of ESDM) to actively promote the energy efficiency and conservation at regional government levels.

The new “energy brigade’   as the group was initially called, (eventually changed to PETA– Penggerak Energy Tanah Air, obviously inspired by the heroic name of independence fighter group Pembela Tanah Air,  in the  forties), is now being prepared for accomplishing its mission in 2016 and beyond.

As  we understood while discussing the campaign plan with Director of Energy Conservation of EBTKE and other officials, the government wants to engage MASKEEI to help the campaign successful. We are happy to welcome this gesture as a challenge,  and MASKEEI with all its stakeholders, including the academic community, will seriously and actively contribute to achieving the national objectives.

As part of our missions, MASKEEI will not only contribute to the government efforts, but also, along with the relevant government bodies, watch and evaluate  the implementation of the campaign to make sure it is effective to meet the objectives.

We’ll report the further development of this campaign. Till then,

Best regards

 

Jon Respati, MASKEEI Chairman

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