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Academia Tri Harso Karyono and Tasya Nabila – Why don't we move to renewable energy?

by August 24, 2017 General

The life of human population on earth is under threat by two things: huge emission of carbon dioxide and huge consumption of earth resources. The huge emission of carbon dioxide, the principal “greenhouse gas”, causing the globe temperature increase. Before the Industrial Revolution, when carbon-based fossil fuels began to be consumed on a large scale, the level of CO2 was around 280ppm (part per million).

In 2013, NASA reported that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had reached 400ppm, while in 2015, the UK Meteorological Office stated that the global average temperature was already 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial figure. Some reports stated that the increase in global average temperature should not exceed 2oC as it’s “unsafe” and would create unsustainable earth planet. So, the more increase on CO2 in the atmosphere would catastrophe the life of the whole human population.

On the other hand, the next threat for human population is related to ecological footprint (EF).  EF, defined by Mathis Wackernagel and William in 1992 is measured in global hectares (gha), is a calculation of human demand on the earth’s resources, standardized by land and sea areas that can regenerate resources being consumed by the population and mitigate associated waste

The human consumption on earth resources is related to the value of EF, The more consumption would increase the EF levels and would threat human beings since the availability of the earth’s resources is limited. In this case, people may not be survived as they are unable to feed themselves .

As one of the developing countries, Indonesia is currently still struggling to develop its nation. The development of this country is still far behind some other former third world countries, such as Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and even Malaysia as well as China, as it’s indicated by a lower GDP (gross domestic product) and HDI (Human Development Index).

Country’s development, measured by its GDP and HDI levels, tends to be associated with the country’s CO2 emissions. The more the country is developed, with having higher GDP or HDI, would create a higher CO2.emissions. Examining more than a hundred countries in the world with the available data on their GDPs, HDIs and CO2 emissions, it was found that these figures are correlated each other. The rise of either the GDP or HDI, will increase the country’s CO2 emissions. Strickly speaking, the development of a country would rise country’s CO2 emissions and this would threat the earth’s sustainability as more CO2 is emitted, warming the earth.

Prominent researchers have shown that the amount of CO2 emitted by any electrical generator is depended on the type of energy sources used by the generator. Renewable energy tends to emit a very small amount of CO2 to generate electricity compared to fossil fuels-based energy. To generate 1 kWh electricity, wind turbine emits 9 g CO2, while for the hydroelectric 10-13 g, solar PV 32 g and geothermal 38 g, compared to natural gas 443 g, oil 778 g and coal 1050 g. In order to minimize CO2 emissions, thus, sustaining the earth, renewable energy is more preferable to be used than fossil fuels, in generating the electricity.

In the very near future, Swedia would be the first country in the world that uses all renewable energy in their country. Currently, Iceland has all its electricity generated by renewable energy, mainly from geothermal and hydroelectric. Denmark, Nicaragua, Scotland, Norwegia, Paraguay and German are expecting to reach 90 percent of their electricity are generated by renewable energy.  With a small number of population and fairly rich fossil fuels, New Zealand consumes 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources, about 23 percent from geothermal. The Kiwi currently generates about 80 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and is expected to reach 90 percent in 2025.

The diversification of energy being used in the country from fossil – based energy to renewable is a matter of human effort to anticipate and mitigate climate change. The high CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has triggered global warming and climate change, which might be reduced by diversifying fossil fuels to renewable sources.

While many countries have moved forward to replace their fossil fuels-based energy to renewable energy in order to minimize the CO2 emission, Indonesia is still largely depended on fossil fuels to develop its nation. Since 2004 Indonesia has been a net oil importer country when its oil production was declined and the demand escalated, however, this nation is still neglected its abundant renewable energy sources and still trying very hard to suck any drop of the remain oil left. With more than 120 active volcanoes, Indonesia has the biggest geothermal energy potential in the world.

Unfortunately, with a huge potential of renewable energy, this country still largely depends on fossil fuels. Only about 5 percent of the total potential of its renewable energy is currently used, while 95 percent is still supplied by fossil fuels, with 47 percent is from oil, 24 percent is from gas and 24 percent from coal. Not only emit low CO2, renewable energy, such wind power, hydroelectric, solar PV,  biogas and biomass, is mostly available in every country, so that it reduces the country’ dependency on fossil energy from other countries.

Unfortunately, the Indonesian government doesn’t see the carbon threat nor the abundant potential of renewable sources that can reduce the country dependency on oil. The appointment of the new Vice Energy Minister  last year, who is an expert on oil drilling rather than on renewable energy has indicated that the government is still keeping its eye on oil, not renewable energy. When will we start to develop a sustainable country with sustainable sources of energy?


Tri Harso Karyono is a professor of Architecture at Tanri Abeng University, Jakarta.

Tasya Nabila is a Student of International Class, School of Architecture, Tanri Abeng University, Jakarta.


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