New Zealand and Indonesia: Working Together for a Renewable Energy Powered Future for Maluku

Since May 1st, 2024, 56 households served by PLN in Pulau Tiga have enjoyed 24-hour access to electricity from renewable energy sources, thanks to a refurbishment project executed in collaboration between New Zealand and Indonesia. 

When the old solar plant on Pulau Tiga ceased operation in 2017, the community was left relying on electricity from diesel generators, which only operated for 12 hours at night. Since its refurbishment, the Pulau Tiga solar power system stands as the sole hybrid system operating in Maluku Province, utilising advanced solar PV-Battery-Diesel Genset technology equipped with remote monitoring. This enables operators and staff of the PLN Unit in Maluku North Maluku (UIW-MMU) to monitor the system in real-time. The target for the solar PV system to produce 103,497 kWh/year.

The electricity now available for 24 hours is expected to support basic services for the Pulau Tiga community. Among these are the ability for the community to use electricity for household needs, support for business activities, and the improvement of the community's economy. Having uninterrupted electricity also supports public facilities such as schools, satellite health centers, and the provision of clean water, which has been a challenge in the area.

During a joint visit and inauguration of the Pulau Tiga Solar Power System Refurbishment Project, Kirk Yates, the Development Counselor of the New Zealand Embassy in Indonesia, stated that: “This is a very positive outcome of the cooperation between New Zealand and Indonesia, using the best available renewable energy technologies to provide a secure, clean electricity supply to the people of Pulau Tiga. That means improved quality of life and economic resilience for the community. Congratulations to all involved in this progressive step towards inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic development in Maluku Province.”

On the same occasion, Raden Siliwanti, Director of Bilateral Foreign Funding from Bappenas, stated that accelerating the energy transition is a national agenda aimed at maintaining energy security and realising a green economy in Indonesia. The energy transition also demonstrates Indonesia's commitment to expanding access to affordable and clean technology to maintain national competitiveness and promote sustainable and greener economic recovery. He also expressed his appreciation to the New Zealand Embassy for its support in the renewable energy sector, particularly for its efforts in expanding access to renewable energy in Maluku through the NZMATES initiative.

“We hope that New Zealand will continue its support in helping the Indonesian Government achieve the vision of RPJPN and RPJMN by aligning targets and priorities in development cooperation programmes. Your feedback will serve as a reference for us in formulating the country strategy partnership with New Zealand,” said Raden Siliwanti.

Adhi Praptono represented Director of Various New Energy and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources adding that, “Maluku province is like a mini lab of Indonesia, because it has similar characteristics, such as being surrounded by a large ocean area and consisting of thousands of small islands. This condition presents challenges in providing access to electricity to the community. On the other hand, Maluku also has enormous local renewable energy resources potential - such as solar energy - which can be used as the source to provide electricity for the local communities. The solar PV power plant in Pulau Tiga can be an example of how to harness local renewable energy resources to increase access to electricity on a small island.” 

Adhi Praptono continued “I am very grateful for the Indonesia-New Zealand cooperation under the NZMATES program, and thankful to the New Zealand Government that has supported PLN to revitalize the Solar PV Power Plant in Pulau Tiga Island. We hope the operation of the power plant can be sustainable in providing 24-hour access to electricity, and support community businesses here, in order to improve the economy and welfare of the local community. Furthermore, this Solar PV power plant can be used as a lab and learning center, especially for PLN to increase its capacity in developing solar PV power plants in other locations in Maluku and other small islands in Indonesia. This will significantly contribute to the achievement of 100% electrification ratio as well as sustainable energy transition in Indonesia.”

General Manager of the PLN Unit in Maluku and North Maluku (UIW MMU), Awat Tuhulaula, also stated, "The construction of this solar power plant aligns with PLN's support for the government's policy on energy transition towards Net Zero Emission (NZE) 2060. We are striving to ensure that the development of renewable energy sources can effectively reduce the impact of climate change. Our collaboration with NZMATES is a strategic step in accelerating the energy transition and aligns with PLN's green transformation pillar."

Senior Manager of Generation for Maluku and North Maluku, Nyoman Satriadi Rai, added that the Pulau Tiga solar power plant was built in 2012. However, after five years, in 2017, it experienced disruptions. In response, PLN addressed the issue by using a diesel power plant.

"The electrical system on Pulau Tiga is one of the 164 small systems in Maluku and North Maluku," said Nyoman.

He urged the local community to actively participate in maintaining the installations, including managing trees that might obstruct sunlight or interfere with the power grid.

Executive Director of Mercy Corps Indonesia, Ade Soekadis, stated that with the completion of the refurbished solar microgrid through the NZMATES programme, Mercy Corps Indonesia aims to achieve sustainable change, particularly in the utilisation of renewable energy as a means of meeting basic needs and strengthening community resilience to the impacts of climate change. "For the community of Pulau Tiga, I congratulate you on now enjoying 24-hour electricity. Hopefully, this electricity will have a significant impact on the lives of the Pulau Tiga community." 

NZMATES Programme Manager, Safitri Yanti Baharuddin, expressed hopes that the operation of the Pulau Tiga solar microgrid would serve as a learning centre for capacity building for PLN staff, students, and the Maluku community, given that the location of this solar power system is not far from the city centre of Ambon. "When knowledge about renewable energy is strengthened, then the future application of renewable energy in all sectors in Maluku Province will be easily achieved. One of NZMATES' primary objectives is to support this process," said Safitri.

The New Zealand-Maluku Access to Renewable Energy Support (NZMATES) programme has refurbished a 75 kWp solar power microgrid in Nusa Ela Sub-village (Pulau Tiga), Ureng Village, Leihitu District, Central Maluku Regency. This project is fully funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) through the NZMATES programme. This programme, which is implemented through a three-way partnership with the Directorate General of New and Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (EBTKE) and the State Electricity Company (PLN), has been coordinating and providing guidance since 2018. The NZMATES programme is implemented by New Zealand renewable energy company Infratec Ltd. and Mercy Corps Indonesia Foundation.

The construction phase of the refurbishment process took six months, from November 2023 to May 2024. NZMATES oversaw the whole process, which began with site surveys, feasibility studies, funding approvals, tender processes, appointment and supervision of Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractors, testing & operational certification, community safeguarding training, and will continue to include operator training, planning for asset handover and demobilisation. NZMATES appointed PT. Deltamas Solusindo as the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor to carry out the refurbishment of the Pulau Tiga solar power system, with technical design support, construction, and inspection from NZMATES.

Complete technical data regarding the specifications of the 75 kWp microgrid are as follows:

  • 75 kWp Hybrid Solar Power System,
  • 190 PV Modules,
  • 3 PV Inverters with a capacity of 25 kW/Inverter,
  • 211.2 kWh Li-Ion Battery Energy Storage System (BESS),
  • 6 BESS Inverters Sunny Island (SI).8,
  • 30 kVA Diesel Genset,
  • Monitoring using Sunny Portal, Sunny Data Manager, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA),
  • Peak Load 6 kW to 11 kW,
  • Renewable Energy Output Resulting 95 percent.

The total funds disbursed by MFAT for this revitalisation amount to Rp6,039,799,358, as part of efforts to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources to meet the energy needs of Maluku. It aims to reduce the reliance on continuously transporting fossil fuels to remote locations and contributes to mitigating Indonesia's overall greenhouse gas emissions.

In the future, NZMATES will continue to support the sustainability of the Pulau Tiga solar power system in several ways. These include providing training and producing operation and maintenance guidelines for PLN staff to support the ongoing operation of the microgrid. More broadly, NZMATES supports PLN in improving asset management procedures and tools. Additionally, this microgrid solar power system will serve as a reliable model for other remote islands in Maluku Province that still require solar power systems as a source of generation.