On 7 and 8 April 2015, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia, Sudirman Said, conducted a field visit to the island of Sumba in order to monitor the implementation and the progress of the SumbaIconic Island (SII) programme. Hivos in Southeast Asia accompanied the minister, the Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia Stig Traavig, and other officials.

During the visit, the Minister inaugurated a microhydro plant with a capacity of 13 kW, located in La Au, East Sumba. The plant is developed by local partner IBEKA and funded by Bank Negara Indonesia and a donation from the Dutch band, Blof.

In his speech, the Minister said that it was not the capacity of the plant that matters, but the collaborative work being done by multi-stakeholders to reach the programme’s goal of 100% renewable energy. The Minister also challenged stakeholders to accelerate the speed the project by five years to end in 2020.

The Minister believes Sumba could be a living example for other areas across the country, saying that the next government must put forward the interest of renewable energy in the country above all else.

“I came here [to Sumba] to check how the programme is running. I really believe this could be accelerated to 2020. The future of our energy is renewable energy. We have the potential of wind, solar, water, and many more including geothermal. We want Sumba to become an example to other areas of Indonesia, making it a new culture [….] One of President Jokowi’s management programmes is how to reach energy sovereignty. I think this is one of the ways that can and will expedite energy sovereignty in the country,” he said.

The Ambassador of Norway was taken by Hivos to one of five schools being electrified from solar power supported by the Norwegian Embassy. He hoped that teachers now have the opportunity to enrich teaching and learning activities through audio-visual materials by powering lamps, laptops, computer and printers.

When asked why the Embassy had decided to take part in the project, Stig Traavik answered, “This programme strives for human sovereignty, and energy is important for people. Norway is a nation that cares about the environment, clean energy and resources for the future. This is a programme where it all comes together — including poverty reduction. This is an illustration of what we would like to continue doing. I see a great potential in Sumba. I think it would be inspiring, not only for the population here but also for Indonesia if Sumba is able to reach this goal of becoming 100% on renewable energy.”

Visits followed to a household biogas installation from Hivos’ Indonesia Domestic Biogas Programme, a decentralised mini wind farm, an off-grid biomass gasification power plant run on agricultural waste (rice husk) and Hivos’ solar irrigation pump for farmers to grow vegetables during the dry season for the first time ever.

Development without access to energy is impossible; the Sumba Iconic Island project is demonstrating that access to energy is a vital driving force for development, and that the island of Sumba can become living proof that “sustainable energy for all” is both feasible and affordable.

Sandra Winarsa
Project Manager Green Energy (Sumba)
The article originally posted at hivos.org