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Mapping the Distribution of Solar Energy Potentials in Indonesia Using vMAP

Sep 26, 2019

Indonesia is a country that is along the equator. If an area approaches the equator, it will have a tropical climate, or in other words, it only has two seasons, namely the dry season and the rainy season.

The difference between tropical and non-tropical countries is the time of solar irradiation. Non-tropical countries usually have 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter) where the highest solar irradiation time is during summer, which usually lasts 3 months (December to March). While in tropical countries have the highest solar irradiation time during the dry season which can last 6-7 months (March to September) with a peak period of around 4 months.

Utilization of Renewable Energy in Indonesia

Although geographically Indonesia can be said to be "lucky" due to the long solar radiation time, the utilization of solar energy in Indonesia is still very low. According to research by global data in 2015, Indonesia still relies heavily on fossil fuels as an energy source in Installed Electricity Capacity, with a ratio of 82% for fossil fuels and 18% for renewable energy (see figure 1). Even if more specifically for solar energy only gets a portion of 0.02% of the entire distribution of energy sources in Installed Electricity Capacity in Indonesia (see figure 2).

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Figure 1. Share of Energy Source in Installed Electricity Capacity in Indonesia and Neighboring, 2015 (%)

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Figure 2. Proportional Share of Energy Source in Installed Electricity Capacity in Indonesia, 2015 (%)

The Potential of Solar Energy in Indonesia

Utilization of a solar energy system requires knowledge of the potential for solar radiation in different locations. The mapping of solar radiation is used in the initial stages to estimate the potential of renewable energy, as well as to plan the location of sites for the construction of solar energy installations, but in Indonesia, the map has not been compiled. As a developing country that has many islands and remote areas, measuring solar radiation becomes difficult and expensive.

Through research from the Department of Electrical and Engineering, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, using the artificial neural networks (ANN) method can be known the potential distribution of solar radiation in Indonesia. The data generated by the study uses solar radiation units that are units of kWh / m² / day or average energy per hour in 1 square meter of area per day.

Based on data from the above research (with a few modifications) and through the help of the web-based GIS portal, vMAP, it will be known the potential distribution of solar radiation at the peak of dry season, using a GIS tool in vMAP called Time-series.

Following is a display of the average solar radiation potential in each province in Indonesia during the dry season by using the Time-series feature to represent the time and Equal distribution features in the Layer Settings to divide the 3 classes equally.

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Just like in the dry season, the potential for solar radiation at the peak of the rainy season is also displayed using the Time-series and Equal distribution features in vMAP, the data used is based on the research mentioned above.

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Location Criteria for Solar-Powered Electrical Installations

There are several factors that become the criteria for building a solar-powered electricity installation at a location, such as:

  1. The value of solar radiation is greater than 900 kWh / m² / year or 2.46 kWh / m² / day
  2. Topography: slope ≤ 30%
  3. Accessibility: Distance from the nearest road ≤ 5000 m
  4. Eligible land cover types, ex: grasses, open field-bare land, and savannas.

Through a map of the distribution of potential solar radiation can be known one of the criteria above (point no.1) for the construction of solar-powered electricity installations. The conclusion from the map of the potential distribution of solar radiation in Indonesia, all regions in Indonesia are included in the development criteria, both the potential distribution of solar radiation during the dry season and in the rainy season.

It is expected that the features in vMAP can help, both planners and managers of solar-powered electricity installation sites in a sustainable manner.