Bringing power to Indonesia's communities

Paul Boughton

Allan Chin reports on how electricity is being delivered to a remote Indonesian village.

As Indonesia emerges as a leading developing economy, it faces a crucial challenge in its drive to bring a modern lifestyle to all of its citizens: supplying a consistent supply of power to its most isolated parts.

In Fakfak, West Papua (Indonesia), MTU Onsite Energy installed six 12V 1600 engines, each capable of producing 634kW at 50Hz, to sustain the community's 2.4MWh peak demand.

The 2010-2011 World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report ranks Indonesia as having one of the lowest levels of infrastructure in the world while also observing that power supply is a crucial factor in laying the foundation for future growth and quality of living. Responsible for managing the nation's power supply, Indonesia's state owned electrical provider - Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) - has been tasked with the challenge of increasing output to meet the needs of Indonesia's rapidly rising demand for electricity. To supplement PLN's undertaking, the energy company relies on MTU branded engines from the German Tognum Group, the specialist for propulsion and power solutions. MTU Onsite Energy in Asia is the business unit for sales and services of MTU branded engines for distributed power generation systems.

The main challenge in delivering power across Indonesia is overcoming its vast and rugged terrain in remotely positioned villages with extremely limited infrastructure. By utilising MTU Series 1600 engines to supply 24/7 non- stop power, even the inhabitants in the most remote regions, who previously were unable to receive even a trickle of electricity, now enjoy a steady stream of power.[Page Break]

Providing power

Fakfak is located in West Papua, Indonesia. The regency is overwhelmed with challenging mountainous geographical conditions, poorly maintained roads and its remote location has curtailed the penetration of modern electricity services to its almost 69,000 inhabitants. For years, Fakfak's rolling power blackouts were part of the daily routine for locals and consequentially adapted their lifestyles to a consistent lack of power. The entire region has remained reliant on a traditional agrarian way of life. Previously, the region depended on power plants from neighbouring regions, but this method proved ineffective in supplying consistent and dependable electricity. In 2010, MTU Onsite Energy installed six 12V 1600 engines capable of producing 634kW each at 50Hz and since then have been running on a 24/7 basis to sustain Fakfak's 2.4MWh peak demand.

"The increased access and availability of electricity in Fakfak has transformed people's living standards," explains Mr Sugiri, Branch Manager PLN Fakfak. Many in the community have reported that the installation of MTU's engines have particularly had a notable impact with the students' education, allowing them to continue their study into the evening, a previously unfeasible activity, as well as having access to computers. The newfound confidence in expecting and experiencing consistent energy has also resulted in a rise of small businesses and local investment, crucial elements to the development of the village's infrastructure and lifestyle.

MTU Series 1600 engines are characterised by their performance, reliability and economy with an outstanding capacity for load acceptance - meaning the unit can quickly supply a desired output level whenever necessary. Furthermore, the revolutionary vibration characteristics make the engines ideal for use under extreme conditions - in Indonesia this means year-round tropical and humid weather. In addition, the engine has low fuel consumption thanks to the common rail fuel injection system which delivers optimal fuel quantity with the precise control of fuel injection timing.

"MTU's own proprietary Engine Control Unit ADEC (Advanced Diesel Engine Control) specializes in monitoring the operating states of the engines and it triggers shutdowns to protect the engine if the critical operating limits are breached," explained Lawrence Chong, Senior Engineer for MTU Onsite Energy, Tognum Asia.[Page Break]

The maintenance-friendly engine design keeps the need for routine maintenance to a minimum, effectually decreasing engine downtime while enabling the highest level of availability. Besides the necessary maintenance work, the engines only stop working for oil changes, which take place once every 500 hours, or every 25 days.

"The Series 1600 engine electronic interface - SMART Connect - offers the possibility of remote troubleshooting. It saves precious travelling time and reduces engine downtime," Chong says.

The low fuel cost - which is a large part of the total cost of ownership - and low maintenance translate into nominal life cycle costs making the engines very appealing from a financial perspective. The other aspect of MTU Series 1600 engines, which is particularly appreciated by customers, is its industry standard exhaust emissions. "The exhaust emission data is comparable to EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) levels for the 10V and 12V engines in Indonesia," Chong explained.

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Allan Chin is with Tognum Asia Pte Ltd/MTU Onsite Energy, Singapore.

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