Powering Up for a Sustainable Future: The Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership’s Support to Upgrade Indonesia’s Largest Energy Generator

Southeast Asia’s top energy consumer is Indonesia, accounting for 36% of the region’s total energy consumption. The archipelagic state also occupies a place among the highest green-house gas emitters world-wide. This track record has resulted in Indonesia actively pursuing directives for a more sustainable energy future, reflected in the country’s National Energy Policy (KEN) which sets an ambitious target to reach 23% primary renewable energy by 2025.

Reaching renewable energy goals requires having both essential infrastructure and expertise in order to harness renewable energy and ensure its smooth delivery to consumers. A common challenge faced by governments in Southeast Asia, is the lack of relevant resources and technical support to achieve this; as is the challenge faced by the Jawa, Madura and Bali (JAMALI) Control Center in Indonesia

Introduction to the JAMALI Control Center 

The Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership, works to support countries within the region in their transition towards sustainable energy consumption. This is reflected in our work to upgrade the largest electricity control centre in the country, the JAMALI Control Center. 

Established in early 1980s the JAMALI Control Center covers 70% of Indonesia’s generator capacity, supplying electricity to 160 million people in the region. 

The Control Center is managed by the state-owned electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), a key stakeholder in the country’s electricity sector and energy transition agenda. Mirroring the country’s National Energy Policy, PLN’s own electricity business supply plan, also outlines a target to enable new renewable energy capacity in the JAMALI Control Center by 2030. The set goal is to be able to manage up to 9.6 GW of renewable energy, of which 3.2 GW will be sourced from variable renewable energy. 

What does a Control Center do?

 A control center’s primary responsibility is to manage the supply and demand of electricity. It manages the flows of electricity and ensures that it is disseminated in a timely and safe manner. Control Centers operate on the basis of several key principles:

  • Reliability: Ensuring uninterrupted power supply to consumers
  • Optimization: Maximizing the utilization of available resources
  • Security: Safeguarding  the power system operation against potential threats
  • Flexibility: Being able to adapt to changing operational conditions and demand patterns
  • Sustainability: Being able to integrate renewable energy sources while implementing environmentally friendly practices.

However, the existing technology of the JAMALI Control Center faces a significant challenge as its current infrastructure is incapable of effectively managing a large capacity of variable renewable energy.  The intermittent nature of variable renewable energy generation (which is dependent on weather conditions) presents an additional risk to grid stability. The technology that is currently being used in the control center can manage “conventional” RE such as hydropower and geothermal power but not intermittent RE such as solar, and wind. Hence, there is an urgent need for the control center to manage the balance between supply and demand for renewable energy.

Current Challenges
The existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and Energy Management Systems (SCADA/EMS) technology of the JAMALI Control Center is experiencing several limitations. It exhibits slow system recovery from significant disturbances, has a limited database capacity, lacks variable renewable energy forecasting capabilities and grid analysis features supporting voltage stability, transient security, and wide area monitoring systems due to its regional operational setup. These shortcomings affect the smooth, uninterrupted flow of electricity, leading to delays and disruptions for consumers.

Support towards upgrading the JAMALI Control Center
Reaffirming its mandate to support clean energy transition in the region, the Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership (ETP) is working with PLN to secure vital technical assistance to enable the seamless integration of renewable energy sources into the grid through the upgrade of the JAMALI Control Center. This will be a formidable push towards decarbonizing the entire Indonesian energy system.

ETP has provided assistance by conducting a detailed engineering design for the JAMALI Main Control Center (MCC) and merging the existing five regional control centers into a single Disaster Recovery Control Center (DRC). 

The new JAMALI Control Center will be equipped with key features to enhance its quality and reliability in system management. This includes the automatic dispatch system (ADS), advanced power system analysis (APSA), smart loading microgrid concept (SLM), integrated security operations center (ISOC), and enterprise information system (EIS). 

With these features, it is expected that the new JAMALI Control Center will create operational benefits through efficiency and effectiveness in optimizing control functions and a fast recovery system. It could also address other challenges like system development, technology disruption, variable renewable energy integration, and power market regulation.

ETP is also supporting knowledge and human-resource development by providing on-the-job training to ensure complete knowledge transfer to PLN staff. Our support to the upgrade of the JAMALI Control Center will:  

  • Boost energy security: By diversifying its energy mix and thus reducing reliance on volatile fossil fuel prices.
  • Lower electricity costs: Renewable energy sources offer long-term cost benefits, contributing to a more sustainable and affordable energy future.
  • Create jobs: The renewable energy sector is a major job creator, providing new opportunities for Indonesians.

Through the provision of a road map towards upgrading PLN’s existing control center system, ETP supports a groundbreaking delivery of cleaner electricity for nearly 165 million people in Java, Madura, and Bali, a giant leap towards decarbonizing the entire Indonesian energy system.