Unlocking Indonesia's Offshore Wind Energy Potential: An Overview of The Wind Speed in The Country and Navigating Through The Challenges and Opportunities

(AR | 22/11/2023)

Indonesia, a vast archipelago with over 17,000 islands, is rich in natural resources, and its geographical diversity presents a unique opportunity for the exploration of renewable energy sources. One such promising avenue is offshore wind energy. This article aims to delve into the potential of offshore wind energy in Indonesia, with a specific focus on the analysis of average wind speeds across the archipelago. 

Offshore wind energy is gaining global prominence as a sustainable and clean alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Its potential lies not only in its capacity to generate substantial electricity but also in its ability to mitigate environmental impacts associated with conventional energy sources. Indonesia, with its expansive coastline and numerous islands, is strategically positioned to harness the power of offshore winds for a sustainable energy future. 

As a tropical country, Indonesia has a low annual wind speed between 3 – 6 m/s. Based on Hidayat (2022), the minimum wind speed required to spin the blade of a wind turbine is 5 m/s, so as the average annual wind speed in Indonesia. Therefore, the success of offshore wind energy projects in Indonesia heavily relies on the consistent and strong wind speeds prevalent in the accurate target areas. A comprehensive analysis of Indonesia’s average wind speeds is crucial for identifying viable locations for offshore wind farms. To do so, we employed a spatial mapping approach to assess average wind speeds at 100 m. To enhance accuracy, this study incorporates global data from European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis v5 (ECMWF ERA5). However, these data may not fully represent the actual conditions in Indonesia. Therefore, we implemented secondary data adjustments to correct the wind speed and significant wave height values. These corrections were made based on an average ratio of 1.56 between ERA5 data and measurements, as documented in Poerbandono (2016). The resulting spatial map depicting average wind speeds from 2013 to 2023 is presented in the following image: 

Figure 1. Indonesia global wind speed at 100 m (2013-2023). Data: ECMWF ERA5

Based on the map, there are several locations that possesses significant wind energy potential, such as the Southern Coast of Indonesia (Java – Timor), Java Sea, Banda Sea, and Arafura Sea area exhibit promising average wind speed at 100 m, making them prime candidates for offshore wind energy projects. These areas benefit from the reliable trade winds and monsoons that characterize the region. 

The adoption of wind energy is pivotal for Indonesia’s shift toward renewable sources, it is in line to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. Currently, energy consumption heavily leans on coal (35.36%), natural gas (19.36%), and crude oil (34.38%), and over the past five years, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency has remained stagnant, indicating the limited appeal for investing in renewable energy within Indonesia. In 2020, the combined investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency reached USD 1.4 billion, constituting 60% of the investment target set by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) Renstra program. The electricity sector absorbed more than half of these renewable energy investments. Before 2019 and 2020, the investment goals for geothermal and bioenergy were consistently met or surpassed. However, only a mere 1% of the projected investment was directed towards bioenergy in 2020 (IRENA, 2023). It is important to note that there hasn’t been a significant change in the country’s regulatory framework, which continues to pose the most significant barrier to renewable energy development. Therefore, it is a major challenge for the government to optimize the regulatory framework regarding renewable energy so it can attract investors to support the development of the renewable energy sector in Indonesia.  

The complexity of Indonesian geographical condition posed additional challenge in finding the best locations for wind plants, though this barrier is being slowly overcome through wind mapping and location assessment. Wind power plants serve as consistent energy producers, yet they require backup generators during periods of low wind speed that fall below turbine design limits. Hence, each region needs a different feasibility study of the wind power plant, especially a large-scale wind power plant (KESDM, 2016). 

Another obstacle pertains to the substantial initial costs associated with integrating new technology into wind energy production. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA, 2012), constructing offshore wind turbines requires an investment ranging from 3 to 4 million USD per megawatt (MW). In comparison, geothermal power plants cost between 2 and 3 million USD per MW, while coal-fired plants average below 1 million USD per MW which is why coal is still the most popular energy resource. Therefore, securing funding from international investors becomes imperative, and offering subsidies for green energy could attract project developers (Pristiandaru, 2019). Despite these challenges, it presents opportunities for collaboration between the government, private sector, and international stakeholders to create a conducive environment for sustainable energy initiatives. 

Indonesia’s abundant coastline and archipelagic nature provide a favorable canvas for the expansion of offshore wind energy, for instance The Southern Coast of Indonesia (Java – Timor), Java Sea, Banda Sea, and Arafura Sea area exhibit promising wind speed for this cause. By strategically analyzing the wind speeds distributions and addressing challenges, i.e., intricate regulatory framework, complex geographical condition, and the need for substantial investments, Indonesia can unlock its immense potential in the renewable energy sector through collaborative efforts. The shift towards offshore wind energy not only aligns with global efforts to combat climate change but also positions Indonesia as a leader in sustainable energy practices, contributing to a cleaner and greener future.


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