A just energy transition should push democratization in energy and its use, allowing the people to have access to energy sources near them.

The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) should encourage democratization and enable communities to utilize energy in their respective regions – the assessment concluded at the end of an online discussion entitled “JETP and Energy Transition Initiatives at the Grassroots”, Tuesday (20/6/2023).

JETP is a USD20 billion funding program that was launched on the margin of the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022 following an agreement between Indonesia and the International Partners Group (IPG), and is channeled through the commitment of the public and private sectors respectively at USD 10 billion.

According to Tri Mumpuni, Executive Director of People Centered Business and Economic Institute (IBEKA), JETP has to make people and communities the main players of the energy transition.

Therefore it becomes imperative for JETP to prioritize the democratization of energy that provides space for people to determine, manage, provide, and utilize energy sources in an independent way.

“There must be energy democratization. There are many potentials at the grassroots level that could be fully realized, enjoyed, and managed by the people. It could also be sustainable because the people are being given an understanding, informed, and invited,” Mumpuni said.

According to the 2022 Indonesia energy outlook published by the National Energy Council, the potential of renewable energy in electricity generation reaches 3,643 gigawatts (GW) but only 0.3 percent or 11.6 GW have so far been used.

Meanwhile, based on the mix, the utilization of national new and renewable energy (EBT) throughout 2021 and 2022 shows a relatively slow increase, at 12.16% and 12.3%, respectively.

Mumpuni believes that Indonesia’s large untapped renewable energy potential should encourage the government to push for community participation in energy development in their respective regions.

In this context, JETP funding should be used to provide training and mentoring, technology development, and the provision of trust funds that can be accessed by the community.

“Empowerment is the keyword,” Tri Mumpuni said. “So never separate the people from the local resources there. That is far from the dream of a just energy transition.”

Sisilia Nurmala Dewi, Indonesia team leader at 350.org, says that energy decentralization and democratization are believed to be the most effective schemes for realizing a just energy transition in Indonesia.

At the same time, they are key components that distinguish energy transition from conventional energy utilization — fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) is extracted in one place and then distributed to many places.

Empowerment is the keyword. So never separate the people from the local resources there. That is far from the dream of a just energy transition.

Tri Mumpuni, Executive Director, People Centered Business and Economic Institute

Meanwhile, energy decentralization and democratization will bring people closer to the resources in their surrounding areas.

“Where it is produced, it is close to consumption. Now, that solution needs to be applied widely, but it must not threaten land rights or the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities,” Dewi said.

For this reason, the JETP funding mechanism is expected to place communities and local governments as a vital part of renewable energy development in their regions. This is followed by the renegotiation of 14 GW of power plants in the pipeline, and pulling away distractions from emission reduction efforts.

The strongest message

Adhityani Putri, Director of Communications at the JETP secretariat, says that decentralized energy was the key takeaway in the civil society dialogue held by the JETP secretariat recently. Putri adds that JETP planning seeks to accommodate input from various stakeholders, including local governments and civil society.

“So there will definitely be a dynamic and interactive process. Hopefully, we can do this better, not like business as usual, because JETP is here to strive for something not usual,” Putri said.

By August 16, 2023, the JETP secretariat targets the completion of the Comprehensive Investment and Policy Plan (CIPP) document. This document contains three main principles:

  1. Positively contribute to the Indonesian economy and ensure energy affordability;
  2. Ensuring energy security and transmission grid stability;
  3. Ensuring the achievement of shared targets and carbon emission reductions in line with government ambitions.

Where it is produced, it is close to consumption. Now, that solution needs to be applied widely, but it must not threaten land rights or the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Sisilia Nurmala Dewi, Indonesia team leader, 350.org

Putri could not elaborate on the JETP budgeting mechanism as it will only be mobilized in the coming three to five years.

“So the first year until the third year, our job is to plan, identify, prepare projects, policy tools and design a just transition,” she explained. “But our priority is to ensure that we can integrate these community-based approaches and decentralized energy into the CIPP.”

JETP has four targets. First, electricity sector emissions peak in 2030 or sooner than the initial projection. Second, electricity sector emissions do not exceed 290 million tons of CO2 in 2030.

Third, achieving net zero emissions for the electricity sector in 2050 — 10 years earlier than the initial projection. And, fourth, achieving a renewable energy mix of 34% in the electricity sector by 2030.

Putri hopes that these targets can be achieved and implemented through transformative projects that use renewable energy and encourage energy democratization.

Centuries old renewable wisdom of Ciptagelar

At the grassroots level, the practice of developing renewable energy in communities started at the Ciptagelar traditional village in West Java’s Sukabumi district in 1987. This was done with the building of a small hydro turbine to produce electricity

In line with their customary values, the community protected the natural environment while still allowing civilization to progress.

The community representative, Yoyo Yogasmana says that since 1368 the community has lived by the tradition of Ngalalakon, or living life as ordered by their ancestors. Yogasmana adds that tradition encourages the indigenous community to keep pace with the times without abandoning customs and traditions.

They also practiced the customary Wewengkon (forest division system), which includes prohibiting or banning forest areas from being exploited. This consisted of the entrusted forest, which must be cared for to be used in the future. It also consisted of cultivated forests, which became villages, agricultural land, plantations, etc.

“We get a bonus from protecting the forest, the water flows, so in 1987 the community started making a turbine called the gelebeg turbine. Made of wood, the wheel is wood and its rotation generated only 3000 watts. It could power the village of Ciptarasa, because the village was still called Ciptarasa at the time (from 1982 to 2000s),” Yogasmana explained.

In its development, the Ciptagelar community built 5 micro-hydro power plants (PLTMh) — Cicemet PLTMh in 1997, Ciganas PLTMh in 2003, Situmurni PLTMh in 2006, Cibadak PLTMh in 2014, and Situmurni II PLTMh. All of the plants are said to provide electricity for all residents in the village.

“People use electricity very simply. We make a pinwheel out of wood, then water spins the pinwheel, which drives a motor that produces 100-400 watts. This is enough to illuminate each house from a small water flow.”

Yogasmana hopes that the local wisdom of the Ciptagelar indigenous community can be an example of community-based renewable energy development. It also shows that indigenous people who practice traditional values can also use modern technology to be self-sufficient in the energy sector.

About the writer

Themmy Doaly

Themmy Doaly has been working as Mongabay-Indonesia contributor for North Sulawesi region since 2013. While in the last nine years he has also been writing for a number of news sites in Indonesia, including...

There are no comments yet. Leave a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.