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An aerial view of the Sidrap wind farm in Indonesia

Powering a shift to renewables

Indonesia wants renewable energy to make up 23% of its energy mix by 2025. Fortunately, the country has vast renewable resources, including great onshore wind power potential, estimated at 9.3GW by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

This project is particularly significant because it’s one of the ways that PLN, the Indonesian state-owned energy supplier and grid operator, is going to develop its knowledge about wind power and the opportunities and challenges it brings. It will definitely help with the political traction for renewables in Indonesia overall.

Robin Ingram

SEA wind practice leader, Mott MacDonald

The big challenge is the relatively high cost of deploying wind energy compared with conventional generation, such as coal. Nevertheless, Indonesia is committed to harnessing this resource and is making positive strides to deliver new wind farm projects.

The country’s first utility-scale wind farm, in the Sidenreng Rappang regency (Sidrap) of South Sulawesi, was inaugurated by President Joko Widodo on 2 July 2018.

Sidrap and another wind farm in Jeneponto regency – also in South Sulawesi – are Indonesia’s first such generators. With a total capacity of 75MW, Sidrap produces about 250GWh of renewable electricity a year, enough to power about 100,000 homes in the region. It has helped to increase the province’s electrification ratio to 99%, above the national average of 96%.

The project is a key part of the president’s goal to generate an additional 35,000MW of electricity nationwide by 2025, with wind contributing 1,800MW.

Improved access for the community

The project was built in a largely rural area, near the villages of Lainungan and Mattirotasi, about 150km north of Makassar City, the capital of South Sulawesi.

Sidrap was delivered to the highest regulatory standards, both national and international. The community was consulted at every stage of the project, and many local people had the opportunity to work on the plant’s construction. A high percentage rolled over into the operational phase, with almost half of the 500 workforce at the peak of the construction phase being local villagers, and a majority of the rest drawn from the wider Sidrap regency.

Integral to the success of the project was the construction and upgrade of key access roads, particularly the road along the 150kV transmission line in Lainungan village. The community now benefits from these improvements, as well as three new bridges. Local people were also given assistance to renovate houses, install fencing and acquire better agricultural equipment, while groundwater wells were drilled to provide both villages with access to clean water. More recently, further village road upgrades were undertaken as part of a wider CSR strategy supporting agricultural betterment.

Setting an example

We have been involved in the Sidrap project since the beginning as the lenders’ technical, environmental and social advisor. Drawing on our extensive experience with alternative energy schemes around the world, we helped to identify construction or operational risks and developed mitigation strategies. This reassured the investors, alleviating reservations they had about investing in the new and relatively uncharted wind sector in Indonesia. We also provided construction monitoring services during the installation of 30 Gamesa G114 wind turbine generators at what is a complex site.

This project marked an important milestone for Indonesia. As the country’s first commercial scale wind farm, Sidrap put wind energy firmly on the agenda and set the stage for further similar developments in the country.

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