Indonesia moves forward with plan to export solar power to Singapore


Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Right) at the Joint Press Conference with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Left) . (Photo: Joko Widodo's Facebook)

Indonesian president Joko Widodo has announced that the government will move forward with a plan to enable the export of solar power to Singapore.

Accompanied by their respective successors, Jokowi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong convened for the Leaders’ Retreat at Bogor Palace in West Java on April 29. They celebrated their decade-long achievements in bilateral relations and promised continued cooperation.

“We will continue to encourage plans to export (solar-powered) electricity to Singapore, including investment for supporting green industries,” Jokowi said.

Indonesia has been sending mixed signals regarding the export of power generated from renewables.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said there was ample potential to meet both domestic and export demands.

However, Jakarta suspended plans to export clean power earlier last year, long after some Singaporean companies had signed deals with Indonesian counterparts to produce renewable energy in Indonesia and transmit it to Singapore.

In May 2023, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan reaffirmed the move, but suggested that Singapore construct a renewable components factory in the country to have the suspension lifted.

Rachmat Kaimuddin, the undersecretary for transportation and infrastructure at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Ministry, said on April 30 that Indonesia was getting ready to export 2 GW of solar power to Singapore as part of a bigger effort to lure investment for solar panel supply chains.

“We don’t want to import solar panel components, but solar panel factories abroad need to consider the economics of scale before establishing a factory here,” he said.

Rachmat say that Indonesia’s solar power demand was not as big as Singapore’s, citing state-owned utility PLN latest electricity procurement plan, which only seeks to add another 4.6 GWp of solar power into the grid by 2030.

Singapore plans to use rooftop solar and import energy to reduce fossil fuel reliance. (Photo:Green Plan)

Exporting solar power to Singapore has been a lengthy process due to the scale of the project, estimated by Rachmat to cost around US$50 billion.

He also mentioned that Singapore’s previous request to export a total of 4 GW of solar power until 2035, but Indonesia eventually agreed to provide half of it.

“2 GW is equivalent to baseload power plant. If translated into solar panels, perhaps it is equivalent to 11 GWp, plus batteries with a total capacity of 21 GWh.”

According to the 2023 Southeast Asia’s Green Economy report published by Bain & Company, Temasek, GenZero and Amazon Web Services, Singapore needs to import clean energy to reach its 2030 Green Plan goals and 2050 net-zero target.

Singapore is projected to have an electricity demand of 18 GW by 2050, while its potential for renewable energy stands at a mere 0.4 GW, according to the report.

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