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Jakarta Post

Indonesia needs 31,000 charging stations to reach electric vehicle goals

  • Norman Harsono

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, September 4, 2020   /   03:10 pm
Indonesia needs 31,000 charging stations to reach electric vehicle goals A Blue Bird driver operates the BYD electric car charger during the unveiling of the first electric taxi in Indonesia in Jakarta. Blue Bird Holding Group officially operates 25 BYD electric cars for Blue Bird and four Tesla Model X vehicles used by Silver Bird. (The Jakarta Post/Seto Wardhana)

State-owned electricity giant PLN estimates that Indonesia needs more than 31,000 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by 2030 to reach government goals.

Private and public players need to invest Rp 54.6 trillion (US$3.7 billion) to install 31,000 commercial charging stations over the course of 10 years, according to PLN's station development road map.

Over a third of the stations will be in Jakarta, while the rest in cities as far east as Makassar, South Sulawesi. Apart from at gas stations, such charging stations will be built at shopping malls, markets and apartment complexes, among other sites with sizable parking lots.

PLN technology vice president Zainal Arifin said on Tuesday, Sept. 1, that such stations mainly catered to commercial always-on-the-go vehicles such as taxis, buses and online motorcycle taxis. Personal vehicles could charge when parked at home.

In general, “the most effective way is charging overnight and so we can make that [night time] electricity cheaper,” he added at an online discussion about a new Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry regulation on EV charging stations.

PLN’s road map and the energy ministry’s regulation tick two more boxes on a checklist of regulations hoped to foster EV growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The two documents build upon Presidential Regulation No. 55/2019 on EVs.

Read also: Jokowi signs electric vehicle regulation"

The company projects over 326,000 EVs on the road between 2020 and 2025, which would slash Indonesia’s reliance on oil, a commodity that is heavily imported at the expense of swelling the country’s trade deficit.

According to available traffic police data, there were 1,419 EVs, 95 percent of which were motorcycles, in Greater Jakarta as of August last year.

The energy ministry’s new regulation supports EV growth by standardizing charging socket types and centralizing business permit issuance for three stations types: battery swapping, commercial charging and private charging.

“The rule is consumer protection. Give consumers the choice,” said energy ministry electricity business development director Hendra Iswahyudi of regulation No. 13/2020.

On Sept. 1, the ministry inaugurated the country’s first set of battery swapping stations for electric motorcycles. The stations are owned by startup PT “EzyFast” Energi Pratama.

The number of battery swapping stations in Indonesia is expected to reach 52,125 by 2030 to accommodate electric motors, according to the energy ministry and the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).

However, Hendra and Zainal acknowledged that much work remained such as drafting laws over battery recycling and – the elephant in the room – making electric cars cheaper.

Electric cars cost three times more than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts, while electric motorcycles cost 1.5 times more, according to a study by Jakarta-based energy think tank the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR).

The IESR identified the lack of charging stations as one of three key factors inhibiting electric car growth in Indonesia. The other two were limited fiscal incentives and the high costs of supporting EV infrastructure.

“The domestic vehicle industry is not yet developed so, for 2 to 3 years to come, it is likely that most electric vehicles will be imported,” IESR executive director Fabby Tumiwa told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He noted that setting charging station standards helped attract investors as standardization prevented the stations from turning into stranded assets.

Fabby also emphasized the need to detail an electricity pricing and station location strategy, adjusted to known EV charging habits, to boost EV growth in Indonesia.