Funding boost for RGU renewable energy project

Researchers at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have been awarded a further £200,000 in funding to help establish integrated renewable energy systems in Indonesia.

CUSP Indonesia 2016In partnership with the Strategic Resources Initiative (SRI) Office in Indonesia, Universitas Syiah Kuala (UNSYIAH), and the Agency of Marine and Fisheries Affairs in Aceh, 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 NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations).

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 accelerating the implementation of a range of appropriate renewable energy technology options in these remote areas.

The team has engaged with local communities to incorporate their indigenous knowledge and aspirations in creating a number of tactical and strategic reports for planning agencies and ministry departments, including an action plan for designing a decentralised, small scale, sustainable energy resources management framework, structure and toolkit for the country.

In addition to a number of other community projects awarded last year, 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.

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.

CUSP Indonesia 2016Dr. 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 programme to meet community aspirations; and initiate business models that can create wider benefits.”

Dr. 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 to 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.”

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology