I dare to say that most people living in urban area in Indonesia ‘contribute’ (in negative way) to climate change. Even environmental activists, scientists, researchers, youth that care and speak up about environment, still contribute to climate change. How can I say that ? I look it from our electricity usage perspective. The perspective is barely seen for analyzing climate change. We often see climate change simply from our ‘active’ activities perspective. For instance, we say we contribute to slow down climate change if we ride bicycle to office, instead of car. Another example is we say we contribute to slow down climate change if we avoid eating meat, and eat vegetables instead. These are all ‘active’ activities we do everyday that show simple example how to slow down climate change.
What about our electricity usage ? I believe that all people in urban area use electricity everyday, for charging laptop battery, smartphone, light bulb, air conditioner, etc. The fact that most our electricity production in Indonesia still powered by fossil fuel makes us worsen our environment and climate change. Fossil fuel is the biggest contributor for green house gas, that resulting climate change happen.
Our society simply use electricity without thinking how to produce it. What we know that we just have to pay to PLN (state-owned electricity company) for our electricity consumption. We don’t think deep about how this electricity can be produced. In Indonesia, most of power plant still use coal and gas as main source. Of course, the combustion of coal and gas for this power plant will produce harmful gas, mainly CO2 and CO. So we unintentionally ‘contribute’ much for climate change, from electricity usage perspective.
Data above shows comparison how many CO2 produced between fossil fuel usage and renewable energy usage. It is clear that fossil fuels (coal, gas, crude oil) produce almost ten fold CO2 compared to renewable energy. If we keep continue doing it, our earth will only gets warm and warmer.
The solution to slow down climate change is actually pretty simple. As table shown above, the solution is just we replace fossil fuel usage into renewable energy usage for our electricity resource, mainly in urban area. But, the implementation is not as easy as we think. The challenge mainly from renewable energy high price and its undeveloped technology. Compared to fossil fuel, installed cost per kWh for renewable energy is still expensive. This is driven mainly by the technology is still new. There are a lot of kind of renewable energies, geothermal, wind, hydro, biofuel, and solar PV. Related to the challenge mentioned, the question is, out of these renewable energies, which kind that has affordable price and developed technology already ?
The answer directly targeted to solar power. Solar power is the most affordable renewable energy this time. The cost of solar power reduces dramatically thanks to its massive research. At the time of this writing (2017), the installed cost of solar panels was between $7-$9 per watt. By contrast, in 1977 the cost of solar panels is $75 per watt. In developed countries like Germany and USA, many utility companies already uses solar power as its main energy resource, installing massive PLTS (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Surya).
I propose our society in urban area to use solar power to cover small percentage (5-20%) of our electricity need. Electricity is directly aligned with our life. So if we use solar power as our electricity resource, we are making crucial progress for preventing climate change as part of our life.
Solar power is kind of renewable energy that can be applied in all areas in Indonesia. Solar power potential averagely is 5 kWh/m2/day in Indonesia. We have advantage as country that is located in equatorial areas, so we got so much exposure of sun light compared to other countries.
I am not proposing PLN to install PLTS (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Surya). It takes years to build PLTS. We are far behind those developed countries that already think and took action long time ago. We can not wait a long time to prevent climate change. We should act now. And it should be done by us society in urban area, not government and corporation (like PLN) alone. What I am proposing is our society to use off-grid solar power system to cover small percentage (5-20%) of electricity need. Install solar panel power in every home in Indonesia will definitely reduce Green House Gas production. I know that we can’t replace 100% of our current electricity in home with solar power. But at least, solar power can cover up until 5-20% for our current electricity need. By applying this, the green house gas production for each home will reduce more than 50%.
Currently, there are a lot of solar power companies that provides off-grid solar power systems. These companies provide simple system with simple equipments to install in every home. The system consists only of solar panel, controller, battery, and inverter, directly connected to our products like light bulb, smartphone battery. It is much simpler to be implemented in home.
The price will not become a problem, since the solar power technology advanced so fast in these past years, so of course the price is competitive already. Also remember that we don’t need any operational cost for running this off-grid solar power system, since the resource comes from sun light. It is free 100% operational cost.
Even now, there are off-grid solar power system that cost less than 1 million rupiah for light up several LED bulbs and charging handphone. This just shows that the technology for solar power already developed and the price is affordable. By implementing off-grid solar power, I believe we can reduce green house gas significantly, so we can slow down climate change.