Author: Yumi Anggraini
Energy Review, Vol 4. Issue 10. 2022
Indonesia has recently announced the delay of the LPG-to-Induction stove conversion program that was scheduled to be implemented before the 2022 G20 Summit in Bali. The government highlighted that in the backdrop of the ongoing COVID recovery efforts, budget allocation to the programme will need to be relooked. Legitimate questions also exist about the relevance of the programme and its long-term feasibility which culminated in the decision to withdraw the budgetary support.
Originally, the Government of Indonesia introduced the induction cooking conversion program in 2021. This programme was aimed at promoting shifting away from the LPG to induction stoves for residential consumers. The first and foremost reason was the concern about the growing domestic demand for LPG within the country due to residential usage. LPG imports have been increasingly adding to import bills. The price surge of LPG in the international market led to subsidies domestically, eventually placing a burden on the state budget. This led the government to consider reducing dependency on imported LPG.
Secondly, the country is currently overproducing electricity which the government considers can be diverted to household consumers. President Jokowi is also pushing for electrification so the oversupply can be efficiently absorbed.
Lastly, since induction stoves are ‘cleaner´ than LPG stoves, the conversion program is in line with the energy transition goal the country wanted to achieve as part of its G20 Presidency. As the G20 summit is scheduled to be held in December 2022 the government aimed to fast-tracking the progress.
The conversion program includes 300,000 units of free induction stove packages with the hope that the number of electric stove users can reach 15.3 million by 2025. The first phase of the program introduced a pilot project of the induction stove program in Bali and in Surakarta targeting 1,000 converted stoves each. A package includes 1 induction stove, 2 furnaces with a power of 1,800 watts, cooking utensils of 1 pot and 1 fryer, an electric consumption reader, a mini circuit breaker replacement for additional power, and installation of an induction stove electrical access. Through the pilot project, they aim to observe community response and potential expansion of the program. The Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN, State Electricity Company), has stated many of the benefits of the stove from the user's perspective, such as lower household costs for cooking, and the cooking process being faster and safer.
However, there are many inconsistencies with what has been reported by PLN, the government, and the general public perception. The public sees that the design of the program will impact the millions of residents of Indonesia, so it must be done with a careful bottom-up approach. Consulting with the masses and those who are most vulnerable to this change is crucial. It is suggested that multiple barriers need to be addressed for its success.
1. The current subsidised 3kg LPG cylinders are openly sold and anyone can purchase them. This means while the programme is aimed at pushing poor households for shifting away from LPG, wealthier households will have the access to the subsidized LPG and can continue to consumption.
2. The current electricity subsidy scheme is based on household connection capacity. Only households with 450VA and 900VA, which are typically low-income households, are eligible for the subsidy. Meanwhile, to use an electric stove, the minimum power requirement is 2,200VA. This prevents these households from switching to induction stoves because to use the stove efficiently, they need to upgrade their infrastructure. This would then lead to the households losing the needed subsidy.
As a whole, this scheme is not attractive to both wealthier and poorer households, due to the costs, infrastructure, and convenience. There are currently no incentives to reduce the cost, other than PLN’s sparse distribution of 300,000 packages. There is also prevailing concern over frequent power outages as well as the durability of stoves. A house with poor infrastructure and an induction stove in their kitchen just looks incompatible. Indonesia just is not ready for the big change. If the government wants to commit to the change, the substitution must be paired with effective targeting regulatory instruments, financial support, and the necessary infrastructure to support the change and long-term usage.
On top of these socio-technical barriers that show the weakness of this program, there might be larger concerns. While the government said this change is better for the environment, by emitting less GHG, while being in line with a clean energy transition, this may not be true. Indonesia’s push for electrification due to its oversupply is understandable. However, when this electricity comes primarily from fossil fuels, mainly coal power plants, the push will backtrack Indonesia's net zero progress. In 2019, the electricity generation mix was dominated by coal at 50.7%, followed by gas at 26%, and hydropower at 7%, and this is not getting lower anytime soon. The benefits of the induction program are certainly there, including health improvement at the household level due to less indoor pollution, however, is it at the cost of nationwide pollution? The amount of GHG emissions related to electricity depends on the nation’s electricity generation mix, and with Indonesia's current outlook, shifting from LPG to induction stoves may lead to more carbon emissions.
Sooner or later, the nation will have to adopt induction stoves to keep up with global trends. However, the renewable energy share in power generation needs to be increased to at least 80%to avoid an increase in GHG emissions. Clean and secure energy resources are necessary for the household to prevent the potential effects of polluting, traditional cooking methods on health and quality of life. To increase the usage of electricity for clean cooking, Indonesia must first achieve universal and secure grid access, along with shaping household fuel choices with training and information. Cooking with electricity will have a long-run positive effect on climate change issues when the share of renewables is increased. Careful development and implementation, along with research to develop the right business model for scaling up the clean cooking market and development and implementation of the conversion of this conversion program are necessary to ensure a successful just energy transition.
(Ms Yumi Anggraini is a graduate student at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan.) ■□■