In 2017, the United States government agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, released nighttime satellite photos showing the light-bathed, dim, and pitch-black areas in Indonesia. It appears that Java is the brightest island. Meanwhile, Papua and West Papua areas are completely dark. Providing electricity to all regions of Papua is a big homework to be faced.
The land of Papua, with its natural landscape and geographical wealth and exposure to mountains and forests, also the relatively far distance from one region to another, poses a challenge to distribute electricity to residents’ houses. However, through the State Electricity Company (PLN), the Government is fully committed to bright up the Papua region by providing electricity facilities, especially in remote villages.
Development of Electrification in West Papua
According to the data presented by the Director of Electricity Program at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in October 2019, to achieve a 100% Electric Village Ratio (RDB) in the Papua region by 2020, there are still 414 villages with approximately 78,000 houses that have not been electrified. Steadily and gradually, these are the Government’s efforts to electrify the easternmost province of Indonesia.
2016 – Bright Indonesia Program
Concerning the electrification in West Papua, the Government launched the Bright Indonesia Program (PIT) nationally on April 21, 2016. PIT is the Government’s effort to electrify underdeveloped areas, borders, and islands by maximizing renewable energy sources in the local area.
The Bright Papua Program 2020 (PPT 2020) is an implementation of the Bright Indonesia program in Papua and has been implemented in hundreds of villages. In 2016, PLN provided electricity to 14 district capitals. The remaining 8 district capitals had no electricity, 5 of which had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PLN.
2016 – Six Electricity Infrastructure
Six electricity infrastructures in Papua and West Papua Provinces were inaugurated in October 2016, includes two environmentally-friendly new, renewable energy-based power plants. With the operation of these six electricity infrastructures, PLN can make savings in the use of fuel oil (BBM) up to Rp161 billion per year.
The operation’s success is crucial as the demand for electricity in the two provinces remains to increase. It is also proof of PLN’s commitment to supporting the use of new and renewable energy environmentally friendly as an electricity source by up to 23 percent by 2025. The six-electricity infrastructure, namely:
- Hydroelectric power plant (PLTA) Orya Genyem 2 x 10 MW.
- Mini-hydro power plant (PLTMH) Prafi 2 x 1, 25 MW.
- High Voltage Air Line (SUTT) 70-kilo Volt Genyem – Waena – Jayapura along the 174.6-kilometre circuit.
- High Voltage Air Line (SUTT) 70-kilo Volt Holtekamp – Jayapura along 43.4 kilometers circuit.
- Waena – Sentani Substation (GI) 20 MVA.
- Jayapura Substation (GI) 20 MVA.
2018 – Hundreds of Villages have Access to Electricity
PT PLN targets to provide electricity to 1,200 villages throughout the land of Papua by 2018. Until mid-year, the company has added electricity to 435 villages. In the past two years (2015-2017), the electrification ratio in both provinces has improved enormously:
- West Papua: from 33.23% to 54.47%.
- Papua: from 22.02% to 29.53%.
2019 – PLN Launches Bright Papua Expedition Program
PLN conducted a Bright Papua Expedition survey in August-September 2018 involving 165 nature-loving students from 5 state university campuses (Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, Bandung Institute of Technology, University of Indonesia, Cendrawasih University, and Gajah Mada University). This expedition also involved LAPAN (National Institute of Aeronautics and Space) and the Indonesian Army.
The goal is to obtain data for the most effective planning purposes, to electrify hundreds of villages in Bumi Cendrawasih. Armed with data from the Bright Papua Expedition, PLN has drawn up electrification plans for 1,123 villages, which has increased far from the original plan to electrify 415 villages.
2020 – PLN Boosts 35,000 MW Program
October 2020, PLN is pushing the 35,000 Mega Watt electricity program in West Papua Province. There are several areas that are targeted; Sorong, Raja Ampat, Manokwari, Fakfak, Kaimana, and Teluk Bintuni. These are the program:
- An additional 20 MW capacity of gas engine power plant (PLTMG) will be built in the provincial capital, Manokwari.
- 50 MW PLTMG and a PLTU with a capacity of 4×7 MW will build in Sorong.
- A PLTMG with a capacity of 10 MW will be built in Teluk Bintuni. The same construction will be carried out in Kaimana and Fakfak 10 MW each.
While in Raja Ampat, they are still revising the program considering the power load currently below 10 MW.
Electricity has drastically changed the people’s lives in the land of Papua. The effort to realize the electrification in West Papua is quite challenging and extraordinary with inadequate infrastructure. The joy of the Papuan people has become an encouragement for the Government and all parties involved to electrify the easternmost region of Indonesia.