Indonesia inaugurated a $100 million (USD) floating solar power station on Thursda

Indonesia inaugurated a $100 million (USD) floating solar power station on Thursda

November 9th, becoming the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia as the country seeks more opportunities to transition to green renewable energy.

The Cirata floating solar power station, expected to generate enough electricity to power 50,000 households, is built on a 200-hectare reservoir in West Java, approximately 130 kilometers from the capital, Jakarta.

"Today is a historic day because our big dream to build a large-scale renewable energy factory is finally realized," said President Joko Widodo in a speech on the occasion. "We have succeeded in building the largest floating solar farm in Southeast Asia and the third-largest in the world," he added.

The project, a result of collaboration between Indonesia's national electricity company, Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), and Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company Masdar, took three years to complete and cost approximately $100 million USD. Financed by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Societe Generale, and Standard Chartered, the solar farm consists of 340,000 panels.

At its peak capacity of 192 megawatts (MW), the farm currently produces enough electricity to power the Cirata region.

President Widodo stated that the project's capacity would be expanded to 500 MW, and PLN has indicated that the eventual capacity could reach 1,000 MW.

The Indonesian government has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. It is also striving for net-zero emissions in the energy sector by 2050 in exchange for funding for its $20 billion USD Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) plan.

As part of this plan, Jakarta has committed to reducing carbon emissions in the energy sector to a peak of 250 million metric tons by 2030, compared to the previous limit of 290 million.

"We hope that more renewable energy sources, such as solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind, will be built in our country," said President Widodo.

However, solar and wind energy account for less than one percent of Indonesia's energy balance, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia still heavily relies on fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Indonesia has set a target to increase the share of renewable energy sources in its energy balance to 23 percent by 2025, although President Widodo acknowledged that this goal may be challenging due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country has promised to halt the construction of new coal power plants but has continued building those already planned despite activist protests.

Indonesia is also positioning itself as a key player in the electric vehicle market as the world's largest producer of nickel, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries. However, some industrial parks housing energy-intensive nickel plants operate on coal.

Environmentalists welcomed the project but called for the involvement of local residents in construction and project management.

"Building floating solar farms using idle land or water bodies should become the main driver of Indonesia's energy transition," said Greenpeace Indonesia activist Didit Hario Vikaxono. AFP