How Different Electricity Pricing Systems Affect the Energy Trilemma: Assessing Indonesia’s Electricity Market Transition

Publication | January 2021

Any major reform that aims to improve energy sustainability in Indonesia must also meet the other two ongoing major objectives of the government—energy security and energy equity.

Many countries have a clear policy objective of increasing their share of renewable energy sources (RESs). However, a major impediment to higher RES penetration often lies in the historically grown structures of a country’s electricity sector. In Indonesia, policy makers have relied on cheap fossil fuels and state control to provide the population with access to both reliable and affordable electricity. However, this focus on only two of the three horns of the energy trilemma, namely energy security and energy equity (and not sustainability), may put Indonesia at risk of missing its ambitious RES targets. In this context, a number of small-scale reform attempts to promote RES integration in recent years have proved to be relatively unsuccessful. Like many other countries, Indonesia needs clear policy directions to avoid an unsustainable lock-in into a fossil fuel future. In the last decades, several other countries have successfully restructured their electricity sectors, for example by introducing a wholesale market for electricity under different electricity pricing systems, including nodal, zonal, or uniform pricing. These countries may hold valuable experiences of overcoming the historically grown barriers to successful RES integration through a greater role for market mechanisms. We develop three generic models that allow policy makers to analyze the impact of introducing either a nodal, a zonal, or a uniform pricing system on the three horns of the energy trilemma in their country. We evaluate our model using a simplified network representation of the Indonesian electricity sector. Our results indicate that each of the pricing systems is able to foster specific horns of the energy trilemma. Considering that any major reform intended to improve energy sustainability in Indonesia will only be a success if it also addresses energy security and energy equity, we also discuss our results from the perspective of energy justice and the need to balance the country’s energy trilemma. Ultimately, we illustrate a transformation pathway for a more sustainable and just transition to a low-carbon economy in Indonesia.

WORKING PAPER NO: 1213

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  • Energy
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  • Indonesia