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Indonesia: Bali: Solar energy touted as credible alternative

Published at: Nov 4, 2011
source: Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

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Hotels in Bali are being encouraged to shift to solar power as an alternative source of renewable energy to produce electricity for their daily operations.


Solar is a feasible alternative energy source in Bali, thanks to its hot climate, and hotels could make the most of this by purchasing their own solar panels, according to Sven Teske, a renewable energy expert from Greenpeace, who was speaking on the sidelines of an international forum on renewable energy.

"I stayed in a hotel and I looked at the roof, but didn't see a single solar panel. Bali should have made this sunny climate as a renewable energy source."

"Water heaters for showers that are electrically heated are very, very energy inefficient," he added.

He said hotels simply did not use solar power because they were not aware of it as a viable option, adding that the main problems that hampered the development of renewable energy were cost, as well as lack of government regulation.

Greenpeace attended the forum to propose a renewable energy feed-in law in Indonesia, which would streamline and increase the market for renewable energy to electrify all the islands and remote areas much faster than the conventional sources.

Feed-in tariff is a renewable energy law that obliges energy suppliers to buy electricity produced from renewable resources at a fixed price, usually over a fixed period - even from householders.

These legal guarantees ensure investment security, and the support of all viable renewable energy technologies.

If implemented effectively around the world, it would greatly assist the energy revolution through carbon dioxide reduction, market creation and development, job creation and improved energy security.

Sven said that it would be worthwhile for Bali to apply a solar tax program for tourists by requiring them to pay for their solar electricity use.

"Tourists come here because of the nice climate, and they stay in hotels, but they also want to have an air conditioner when it's too hot, and this is where the solar energy could be used [to make electricity consumption more efficient]."

A similar initiative will be implemented in Gili Trawangan in Lombok island since the local government is mulling an idea to impose a solar tax on visiting tourists.

The mechanism should also allow cross-subsidy of solar equipment for other Balinese people as well, Sven said.

"The tourists pay more not just for the solar equipment used to power their own rooms, but also for the cross-subsididy for the local electricity supply."

Based on international prices, a standard system could produce electricity for around 18 US cents per kilowatt hour. The tourists can be charged about 25 cents, while the rest can go to finance solar systems for local people, Sven said.

"For them, it is not too much money. Even if they paid 25 cents, they would not need more than 4 or 5 kilowatt-hour a day, so that's about US$2.00 maximum a day, so for two weeks' holiday that's only $24."

It is necessary to make this as an obligation for the hotels, he added, because it would not harm them and would be beneficial for them in the long run.

"Once they have the system, it would last for around 25 years. They will have the guarantee from the panel manufacturer for 25 years."


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