Sumba 100% renewable
Hivos first visited the Indonesian island of Sumba in 2009 while looking for a place where we could show that access to renewable energy can alleviate poverty even in remote and isolated areas. Sumba was an ideal candidate. Located in one of the poorest areas of Indonesia, its inhabitants are without prospects of economic advancement and the island has one of the lowest electrification ratios in Indonesia.
Research commissioned by Hivos found that Sumba has a great, unexploited potential for renewable energy. Hydro and wind power, solar panels and biogas could supply enough energy by far for all the island’s inhabitants and at low cost, through both the small, isolated existing grids and off-grid. The “Iconic Island Initiative” was born: an ambitious plan to provide the people of Sumba with 100% renewable, locally-produced energy.
For such an ambitious project, it was crucial to get all the stakeholders involved. Local leaders were supportive right from the start, as they were already acquainted with renewable energy solutions for Sumba. Hivos set out to gain support at all levels: local, national and international, engaging villagers, politicians, businesses and NGOs. The participation of the Indonesian Ministry of Energy was extremely important, as that led to state energy company PLN and all elected Sumba leaders and the governor committing to achieving the Iconic Island project's goal. In 2013, the Indonesian Ministery of Energy assumed responsibility for achieving 100% renewable energy for Sumba.
Partners team up with private sector
Private sector and civil society organizations were also engaged as partners in this process. The Indonesian bank BNI has provided grants to support households with biogas and is considering investing in micro-hydropower plants. One of the biggest infrastructure companies of Indonesia has agreed to invest in wind power on Sumba, and the Asian Development Bank started its support for the initiative on 21 May 2013 with $1 million in technical assistance. Based on this, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to support the Sumba Iconic Island (SII) Programme through funding ADB and Hivos. Hivos’ partner organisations in Indonesia are also actively involved on Sumba: IBEKA has built a first hydropower plant together with the villagers of Mbaku Hau, and over 40 biogas installations are already in operation.
The Iconic Island initiative is a great chance to engage a wider public in Hivos' climate and energy campaign. To involve Dutch people – and especially young people - in this initiative, Hivos has organised, amongst other activities,two Sumba Expeditions, the second one in 2013. Five expedition members from the Netherlands and two from Indonesiaset out to experience life on Sumba and report about their findings in blogs, photos and videos on Facebook. In this campaign Hivos managed to attract various companies that sponsor and promote Iconic Island Sumba, such as sustainable travel company Sawadee Travel and BlØf. This famous music band promotes Sumbawith their Umoja Fund during festivals and concerts in the Netherlands. New activities will link renewable energy in Sumba to CO2 reduction in the Netherlands, positing renewable energy as a sustainable and cost-effective way to tackle both poverty and man-made climate change worldwide.