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Newton Fund supports green energy project in Indonesia

23 May 2016

£200,000 boost for Scots researchers taking green energy project to Indonesia

RESEARCHERS at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) have won a further £200,000 to help establish integrated renewable energy systems in Indonesia.

The Centre for Understanding Sustainable Practice (Cusp) team at RGU, led by Dr Alan Owen alongside Dr Leuserina Garniati, has been awarded £100,000 through the UK Government’s Newton Fund Institutional Links programme, with a further £100,000 of match funding from Indonesian government agencies and local non-governmental organisations.

The team have been working with the Strategic Resources Initiative Office in Indonesia, Universitas Syiah Kuala, and the Agency of Marine and Fisheries Affairs in Aceh.

The Cusp team have worked in remote areas of the country, such as coastal and rural off-grid communities in Aceh, West Nusa Tenggara, and West Papua, since 2011 to help build up the country’s science and innovation capacity, as well as speeding up the implementation of a range of appropriate renewable energy technology options in these remote areas.

The latest round of funding will be used to implement an integrated renewable energy system to restore prawn farms damaged by the 2004 tsunami, helping communities to improve energy and food security.

Owen said: “Our onsite observations and intensive stakeholder engagement has shown that remote communities in Indonesia have not yet fully embraced the use of sustainable energy technology within locally driven business practices.

“What we hope to do is contribute to the economic development and social welfare of these communities by creating a step change towards appropriately designed and managed sustainable energy systems for maritime productivity.

“To do this, we will look to demonstrate the successful integration of renewable energy systems; apply the appropriate technology; embed training programmes to meet community aspirations; and initiate business models that can create wider benefits.”

Using renewable energy to circulate and aerate water around the prawn farms, as well as cool sorting, freezing and packaging facilities, will enable the communities to keep their costs low while maintaining a high-quality product.

At the same time, the initiative will also aid nearby salt production home industries to get access to clean energy, increasing their economic productivity while at the same time reducing the pressures on sensitive coastal ecosystems.

Garniati added: “It is an honour to be able to work in Aceh and learn from their traditional knowledge.

Recovering from decades of conflict, military oppression, and a major natural disaster, the Acehnese’ social dynamic and determination for a better future is an inspiration to driving a change.

“We hope that this work will bring positive impact for the farmers and fishermen who are often displaced from their own lands, and give confidence to policy makers that such an initiative can work even in the most challenging environment.”

From The National website - please click here to see article on this website