Investors upbeat on Indonesia’s JETP providing pitfalls can be avoided
Guarded welcome given to $20bn Just Energy Transition Partnership, as concerns raised over whether there are enough ‘shovel-ready’ projects.
Investors have expressed initial optimism about the prospects for Indonesia’s Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), believing it can catalyse change as long as those overseeing it avoid a range of potential pitfalls.
The announcement of the $10bn JETP, supported by nine countries plus the European Union, came out of the G20 Summit on the Indonesian island of Bali earlier this month. It was immediately followed by a statement by the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) that it had set up a working group that would aim to secure “at least $10bn in private finance” to add to the pledged public monies.
The framework is an important step for the developing nation, which is ranked 26th globally in the Climate Change Performance Index, as it needs to find ways to service its predicted rise in energy demand through renewable means.
Certain aspects of the JETP have been warmly welcomed by investors, including the focus on phasing out fossil fuel electricity generation in favour of power from renewables.
But there are some concerns, including whether there are enough projects in Indonesia that are truly ready to soak up such large sums of capital, and also about how ‘just’ the JETP will be.
Making the money work
Just like with South Africa’s more fully-developed $8.5bn JETP, which was announced at last year’s COP in Glasgow and which now has a fully ratified investment plan behind it, some sustainable finance experts fear that too much of the public money could lack the impact it should have due to constraints attached to it.
“A total of $20bn over the next three to five years has the potential to accelerate a just and inclusive energy transition in Indonesia,” said Brendan Curran, policy fellow for sustainable finance at the Grantham Research Institute.
“However, the efficiency of how the funding is deployed will depend on whether a sufficient fraction of the $10bn of public finance is technical assistance and other grant funding.”
Curran cited estimates in relation to the South Africa JETP, which suggest as little as 3-4% of the public money being directed towards that country could be in grants, leading to questions about whether “the funding will be enough to build pipelines and leverage sufficient private finance” – the whole raison d’être of a JETP.
“It will be interesting to see how the ‘just’ element of the financing is included in the design of the investments, and how it will be measured,” he added.
“This will be a crucial element to getting buy-in from groups impacted by the transition out of coal industries, including consumers, workers and local communities.”
Ensuring that there are sufficient employment opportunities is a key plank of a ‘just’ transition, according to many investors.
And the selection of projects that the JETP will fund will be vital in this regard.
Vivienne Maclachlan is chief financial officer at ThomasLloyd Group, which late last year listed the ThomasLloyd Energy Impact Trust on the London Stock Exchange.
The trust invests in renewable energy projects in emerging and developing Asian countries, and, besides investing in existing assets run by third parties, it also builds its own plants and renewable infrastructure.
“Communication with local communities is really important, and we feel that more than other investors as we’re building plants in areas that are not well off, and we have to create jobs and a social infrastructure,” she said.
She noted that decommissioning a coal-fired power plant could be positive from an energy perspective, but that doing so would be impacting jobs, something that needed to be considered when the replacement solution was being chosen.
“There needs to be a plan that isn’t just solar,” she said. “There has to be more focus on renewable options that create jobs and support communities.
“Solar isn’t a great employer, as once the asset is built, there’s pretty much only security and maintenance needed; for instance, our biomass plants employ around 1,500 people, whereas our solar plants employ about 20-25.”
Nevertheless, Maclachlan was upbeat about the Indonesian JETP, stating the country was “leading from the front” with ambitious targets such as renewable energy comprising at least 34% of all power generation by 2030.
And she felt that its geography – the nation is the world’s largest archipelagic state with around 10,000 inhabited islands – could actually be beneficial in terms of the JETP’s success.
“In South Africa, coal is owned by one or two major conglomerates, which are big entities to change, whereas things in Indonesia are way more fragmented, so it means you can trial things on a smaller scale, thus improving your chances of success.”