SELF launched a 100-Household Solar Home System project in the West Java region of Indonesia in 1996 under the auspices of a “State Environmental Initiative” grant program sponsored by the Council of State Governments and US-Asia Environmental Partnership.
The archipelago of Indonesia comprises over 13,000 islands. At present, only 20,960 of the more than 60,000 rural villages are connected to a public electricity grid, leaving 25 of 36 million rural Indonesian households to rely on kerosene, dry cell batteries, and candles for lighting. The Government of Indonesia, through its national utility company, PLN, aims to connect another 11,600 villages through grid extension, but at the current pace, it will take at least another forty years to achieve this goal. Even under this ambitious grid extension program, over half of all Indonesian villages would remain un-electrified. In order to accelerate rural electrification, the government has begun to support solar rural electrification, and has recommended a “Fifty Mega-Watt Peak (50MWp) Photovoltaic Rural Electrification Project”, to install one million SHS over the course of the next ten years. Working towards such a goal, SELF helped to further demonstrate and showcase a successful local grassroots model.
SELF’s Indonesia project is being managed by PT Sudimara Energi Surya, a private solar energy service company in Indonesia with extensive experience in the sales and marketing of solar home systems. All hardware for the project has been supplied by Maryland firms, including Solarex Corporation, Morningstar Corporation, and Atlantic Solar Products, Inc. Sudimara has contributed hardware costs to the project in the form of BOS components (battery, lights, wiring, mounting structure, etc.) and additional soft costs in the way of installation, local management, technician training, monitoring, and publicity.
The SELF/Sudimara project was carried out in Cibeber, a sub district in West Java comprised of eight un-electrified villages which encompass part of the Halimun Game Reserve. Recipients of these 100 solar home systems were required to make an initial down payment of $100.00, followed by monthly installments of roughly $10.00 over a three and half year period, representing an interest rate of approximately 30% for financing that is made available to the end-user. All payments are collected by Sudimara and used to finance additional solar home systems for the Cibeber communities.
Sudimara is the only company in Indonesia selling SHS on credit. At present, Sudimara sells 300 systems (mostly 50Wp) every month through a network of 50 Solar Service Centers located in three provinces – West Java, Central Java, and Lampung in south Sumatra. As the leading SHS company in Indonesia, Sudimara is poised to become the largest participant in a recently approved World Bank and GEF-sponsored loan package to finance solar home systems in Indonesia. SELF and Sudimara will be collaborating on putting these funds to work to electrify rural Indonesian homes with solar PV.
Prior to the SELF project, Sudimara had not utilized American-made solar hardware. At the same time, SELF was able to cross-pollinate project development experience between its projects in other countries and Sudimara’s Indonesian operation, to the benefit of both parties, thereby furthering the international knowledge of “best practices” in the commercialization of SHS.