Possible scenarios for the Indonesian energy system 2030

Bandung Scenarios

In the aftermath of the Presidential election in 2014, the momentum presented itself as a new government was about to take over. Instead of providing direct “policy recommendations”, painting the complexity and the richness of the challenge was deemed necessary to guide future policies. The means to do so was a thorough scenario exercise to paint potential futures of energy landscape in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Energy Scenarios exercise was convened by Prof. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto who was at the time Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit, or by many dubbed as the Chief of Staff to the (outgoing) President. Over two dozens of prominent leaders in Indonesia’s energy sector across the spectrum that covered all three institutional spheres (state, market, and civil society) participated over two weekends residential sessions (pro-bono).

This high-caliber “scenarios team” invested time in going through pre-session questionnaires prior to the two full weekends discussing, brainstorming, and debating (at times heated) potential futures of the Indonesian energy system. During the residential sessions, the team gathered uninterruptedly at a retreat location in the resort town of Bandung.

The exercise followed the Transformative Scenario Planning methodology (Kahane, 2012) as the team acknowledged the fundamental characteristic of a wicked problem i.e. there is no one clear solution. From the beginning, the exercise tried to map “trajectories” instead of one authoritative plan for the energy system. As Prof. Mangkusubroto noted in his opening remarks:

“… well thought out trajectories on how Indonesia’s energy sector could develop and take shape in 2030 can help inform and guide all stakeholders involved […] and help provide Indonesia’s new government with valuable input as it formulates new policies and strategies …” (UKP-PPP, 2014)

The work resulted in four possible scenarios for the Indonesian Energy System in 2030 in which the diverse team members all agreed that these scenarios are credible and could happen. The conversation would have never converged if the debate was around what should happen (as if it was a simple problem with high predictability – which it was not).

All four scenarios demonstrate the high ambiguities of the country’s energy system, in particular around predictive and intervention ambiguities. The knowledge ambiguity around the “problem” and the “objectives” were reasonably understood amongst the participants i.e. to provide sufficient and affordable energy to fuel the economic and social growth, with some degree of environmental considerations (this is where the group had more divergent views). The “Storm” scenario explicitly depicts what could happen if climate change becomes a primary driving force in the country’s energy system. Team members did not (need to) agree that “Storm” is the way to go, but there was consensus that if climate is the primary driver, then the scenario as described could indeed happen.

The other three scenarios essentially are reflections of the high predictive ambiguity: all about different permutations of the dynamic interactions between elements and how evolving actors progress (or regress) the agenda as can be seen in the summary above. Due to these ambiguities, it must be acknowledged that as a result there is also a high intervention ambiguity.

The outcome of the exercise was much more than a comprehensive set of scenarios. It brought these very diverse stakeholders and actors in the energy system to together discover and see the complexities of the landscape. Days of intense and rich discussions – including, if not especially, the coffee breaks – was a collective journey for the participants in diving deeper into structural, generative, dynamic, and societal complexities of Indonesia’s energy system.

Almost ten years after the exercise, about 80% of the team members remain active in the energy landscape. As another new administration is to take over in 2024, it may be time to refresh and improve the scenarios to navigate the country through the choppy waters of the energy transition challenge sustainably.

More about and the full report of the Bandung Scenarios can be accessed from here:


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  • Byline

    Michael is a professional leader in the fields of energy investments, complex commercial deals, and sustainability with extensive international experience. His personal interests span from socio-political issues, history, and culture.

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