Renewables to the rescue

Just weeks after air pollution killed hundreds of people in South-east Asia, the Indonesian government has announced that it is making a huge effort to develop renewable energy. On October 7, Endro Utomo Notodisuryo, Indonesia's director general for electricity and energy development, said his government is boosting the development of renewables by seeking foreign financial support, the transfer of technologies and exchange of information. He said the government is also helping the market develop with tax exemption for renewable energy equipment, by boosting technical training, and by lifting small power purchase tariff for the private and co-operative sectors. Recently the government also launched a project with a goal of providing electricity to one million households within ten years. Officials said that at present only 70% of Indonesia's 62,000 villages have electricity. Indonesia's demand for energy has grown by 10% yearly over the last decade, a higher rate than the 2% annual growth of world energy consumption, said Notodisuryo. But the proportion of renewable energy in the total energy supply is still insignificant, at less than 0.1%. In late September the region was covered by a devastating smog, apparently caused by logging companies clearing rain forests in Indonesia with fire and exacerbated by the region's general air pollution. The smog caused a plane to crash on September 26, killing 234 passengers, while in Indonesia alone as many as 60,000 people were though to be suffering from smog-related illnesses.