Smart Grids and the Canadian – Indonesian Experience

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Smart Grids and the Canadian – Indonesian Experience

We had the opportunity to dive into the details with the Director of Field Application Engineering at Corinex Communication Crop., Dr. Javad Fattahi. When asked about how they intend to implement the learnings from Canadian projects to building out Indonesian smart grids, Fattahi had a hopeful response. “Corinex products are built with a global vision, and we have implemented our solution abroad in many European and East Asian countries. We believe Indonesia also is not an exception, and we are looking to implement our technology there soon.” Taking Corinex’s learnings from successful projects will be one part of the Indonesian energy riddle, another is PLN’s buy-in.

Signs are positive though, PLN has, in fact, developed a smart grid road map and have also implemented some pilot projects. Things are moving along in the right direction, but is it probable for smart grid technologies to completely transform the Indonesian grid? In order for smart grids to work, affordable 2-way communication must be accessible and is key to enablement.  Fattahi shared, “We are aware of these initiatives and currently working with our local partner to implement our MV BPL and LV AMI-BPL solution there. We believe making this [happen] will provide a powerful, reliable, and low-cost smart grid communication, which enables PLN to run many other smart grid applications over this communication infrastructure.” Low-cost grid communication and at a low cost to the general public is vital, otherwise, the new technology will not necessarily be maintainable for the long-term, especially if Indonesians cannot afford the pricing.

Considering the timeframe and how the country is positioned over 17,508 islands, we asked Fattahi what he felt to be the main obstacle to overcome during the implementation of smart grids in Indonesia. Fattahi started with the positives, “[At] a first glance, it seems like challenges, but to us, it is an opportunity toward [the implementation of] smart microgrids and grid democratization.” He went on to say of the challenges, “seems there might be a heavily bureaucratic process and policies which slow down the process of implementing the new technologies.” And he is not wrong. The bureaucracy and red tape have the potential to be fairly extensive. Dr. Ir. Marzan Aziz Iskandar of IPU of the Institute of Technology Indonesia & Member of the Indonesian Electrical Society’s (MKI) Expert Group thinks it goes beyond that to Indonesia’s ideologies. “Socialization and dissemination will require very hard work because there is a fundamental change in the business model in implementing smart grids, especially for those who are comfortable with the current conditions. The participation of stakeholders will be difficult to obtain if the implementation of smart grid development cannot promise benefits for them,” Iskandar said.

Returning to the positives, Indonesia is blessed with significant renewable energy resources as the “Emerald of the Equator” pursues its ambitious 23% RE penetration by 2025. Incorporating the challenges Indonesia might face with smart grid adoption, we asked Fattahi which Corinex technologies and strategies will best enable the grid to support their approach and how Corinex is positioned to aid the transition? “Intermittency in solar energy sources is a well-known issue, but fortunately, there are many resolutions on the grid modernization literature for that, which would be possible in the presence of a fast and reliable communication network. So due to this, we believe our BPL communication will be making a reliable communication infrastructure for other grid modernisation application/resolutions,” Fattahi said.

Corinex, with the aid of the Canadian Trade Commission and other Canadian companies, have experience supporting their utility customers. Their tested practices can align with PLN’s smart grid aspirations as they target increasing electrification and implementing clean, digital solutions. We shall see how these aspirations play out over the next four years and how Corinex may contribute to such a project’s success.

To learn more about the future of Grid Modernisation from our expert panel, be sure to register for the webinar taking place on 23 February 2021. To access the webinar, simply register for the Grid Modernisation for free here

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