Not Just Installed, PLTS in South Halmahera Needs to Be Treated So It’s Not Damaged 

Solar Energy

North Maluku province with 805 islands has many villages located on small islands. Out of a total of 1,203 existing villages, 898 are coastal villages. Not all of these locations have sufficient electricity supplied by the State Electricity Company (PLN).

South Halmahera Regency is one of them. This archipelago district consists of about 300 large and small islands. Its area reaches 40,263.72 km2 with six main large islands, namely: Obi, Bacan, Makian, Kayoa, Kasiruta, and Mandioli.

In recent years, the electrification program at the village level has been supported by the South Halmahera Regency Government through the “South Halmahera Terang” Program. The sources of financing are encouraged from village funds and the regional budget.

This program apart from receiving support from the regional government budget and village funds, in several villages has also received support from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources by distributing solar panels to each house.

However, the question then becomes, have the electrification projects in remote island villages been effective and sustainable?

In several locations, the “South Halmahera Bright” Program did not run smoothly. Many units have problems and break down after 1-2 years of operation. For example, the existing facilities in the Guraici archipelago, which includes 17 islands.

After the solar panels were built, handed over to the village, and operational, many of them were damaged and difficult to repair. As can be found in the villages of Laigoma (Laigoma Island), Siko (Siko Island), Bokimiake (Moari Island), Marituso (Kasiruta Island), and Wiring (Tawabi Island).

In its use also encountered many obstacles. Often excess capacity is skipped when the actual use is only for lighting. The unit is so vulnerable to damage.

Gufran Mahmud Member of the South Halmahera DPRD has also contributed to pushing for the solar electricity program on small islands, admitting he is concerned about this obstacle.

After running for about 1.5 years, now the existing unit is broken. Residents are now waiting for the village government’s decision to issue funds from the Village Fund Allocation (ADD) for repairs.

In several references, it is stated that damage to solar power is caused by fluctuations or changes in voltage. The induced voltage and leakage current will cause a decrease in the output voltage generated by the solar panel. Sooner or later this will have an adverse effect on the age of the existing units.

Apart from technical problems, there are management issues at the site level. After the PLTS supporting tools and facilities were provided by the local government. The sustainability aspect is no longer a priority, after being handed over to the village.

He also thought it was time for Pemdes to train young people or residents to take solar panel maintenance courses. With skilled personnel, if there is damage, it can be dealt with immediately.

The need for electricity has become the main need for residents on remote islands. For residents who have more economic capacity, they can provide diesel generators. But not the less fortunate residents, they have full hopes for PLTS.

The existence of PLTS is important for residents because generators cannot be turned on continuously for 24 hours. The average villager who uses a generator can only enjoy 6 to 12 hours of electricity. The rest of their house is dark and only uses kerosene lamps.

“On islands like Laigoma and Siko there are also generators, but they cannot be fully turned on because of the high cost of buying fuel,” continued Suparto.

A stable electricity supply also greatly affects economic life. The Islanders, who are mostly fishermen, need electricity not only for lighting but also for making ice cubes to preserve the fish they catch.

“Currently all the ice needed to preserve fish is taken from Ternate,” complained Ade Thaib, a resident of Laigoma. 

The Solar Energy Program Needs Sustainability

When trying to be contacted, the South Halmahera Regency Government, who tried to confirm the condition of the PLTS, was reluctant to give a response. Was approached directly, until sent a list of questions via WA message also not responded to.

The Head of the Regional Development Planning Agency for South Halmahera Regency, Tahrim Imam, who was met on Saturday (29/7/2023) in Bacan, South Halmahera Regency, was reluctant to comment on this matter.

Another thing is to build a sense of community ownership of this renewable energy facility. Including the implementation of a fee system for the provision of maintenance funds.

Sisilia provides an example, an initiative carried out by residents of Bondan Hamlet, Cilacap. Due to good management, they received an award from the Central Java Regional Government as an Energy Independent Village.

Archipelago’s Capital City Not Disaster-Free?

Pandi (54) stares blankly at the stagnant water that dampens the rice fields. Residents of Jalan Datu Nondol, Sepaku Village, Sepaku District, North Penajam Paser Regency, East Kalimantan Province, explained that not only the rice fields but also cut-off road access. The community and school students were affected by this condition.

These submerged rice fields are not far from the Intake Sepaku development site, which is used to meet the clean water needs of the Archipelago Capital City. The distance is only a stone’s throw, from the residential road on the side of the rice fields.

“Previously there was a tidal flood. It’s just that, the duration of the inundation follows the tides. While the flood now, almost 24 hours, “he added.

Flood subscription

Based on data from the North Penajam Paser Regency Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), most of the floods that occurred in this area were in Sepaku District, from 2017-2019.

Location of the floods, mostly near the Central Government Core Area (KIPP) of the Capital City of the Archipelago. In 2017, out of 31 floods, 14 of them occurred in Sepaku District.

In 2018, out of 21 floods, around 9 occurred in Sepaku District. Meanwhile in 2019, during the appointment of Sepaku as the National Capital of the Archipelago, one out of 14 floods occurred in Sepaku.

Head of BPBD North Penajam Paser Logistics Section, Helena Legi, explained that floods that often occur in Sepaku District are the result of tidal floods. The combination of rain in the upper reaches of the river with seawater tides is the main cause of flooding.

Dominant  butu lempong

How about a geological study? Wisnu Ismunandar has twice examined the distribution of rocks in the Archipelago Capital area.

A lecturer in the Geological Engineering Study Program, at Muhammadiyah University, East Kalimantan, is intensely researching the condition of the rocks in Sepaku District.

“In general, in Sepaku District, sandstone and claystone are dominated. However, limestone and coal seams were also found. Regarding limestone, it is very suitable for building construction because it is hard, while the coal that is ready to be mined is located quite far from the core area,” he explained, Thursday (30/3/2023).

In general, based on geological studies, the potential for disaster in the Archipelago Capital region is flooding. This is due to the appearance of the subsurface which is dominated by clay.

“Geometrically downward, claystone is more dominant than sandstone. The nature of clay stone can not store water. This is the primary data that I get in the field.”

Fortunately, said Wisnu, the Central Government Core Area (KIPP) is located on a hill, so there is no flooding. However, the impact is of course in other areas around the IKN, which is in the vicinity of Balikpapan Bay. For example, Pemaluan village is prone to flooding.

Based on secondary data from Andang Bahtiar’s research, faults were found in the Archipelago Capital area which had landslides in several areas. However, these faults were not found at KIPP.

Annual fig

A researcher from the East Kalimantan Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Yohana Tiko, said that floods have often occurred in Sepaku District. He is not so sure about President Joko Widodo’s narrative that calls the IKN area free from disasters.

Agung Edy Setyawan from Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) said that moving the capital city from Jakarta to East Kalimantan to avoid disasters was a shortcut.

Agung made an analogy of the continuous flooding in Jakarta, as proof that there are problems that have not been resolved. The government, he said, forgot to regulate the upstream, namely the watershed (DAS).

Agung sees this pattern of handling repeated in the new capital city. The government with its authoritative bodies only regulates the IKN area.

Based on FWI data, the Riko Manggar watershed, which covers 220 thousand hectares, is almost all within the IKN area. Of this area, said Agung, half of them already have permits for extractive industries such as palm oil, HPH, and HTI.

Maximum mitigation

Deputy for Environment and Natural Resources of the Archipelago Capital Authority (OIKN) Myrna Asnawati Safitri explained that disaster mitigation was carried out as much as possible. He gave an example of the development of the Sanggai Watershed which is part of flood mitigation. The Sanggai Watershed is in Zone 1A of the Central Government Core Area (KIPP).

To mitigate forest and land fires, OIKN, in collaboration with relevant agencies in the forestry sector, will monitor hotspots using satellites so that they can be identified quickly.

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