Indonesia to seek China’s help to develop renewables at Belt and Road Forum

By Gayatri Suroyo and Stefanno Sulaiman

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia will seek China’s help for renewable energy and infrastructure projects when President Joko Widodo attends the upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, a cabinet minister said.

Any partnership with China would be parallel with the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) – a $20 billion deal Indonesia has with a U.S.-led group of countries to help decarbonise its energy sector, acting Chief Investment Minister Erick Thohir said in a Reuters interview on the weekend.

JETP discussions have not been proceeding smoothly. Many senior Indonesian officials have complained that Western countries are reluctant to finance the early retirement of coal power plants and that loans under JETP will carry high interest rates.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has pledged to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, a large part of which will involve cleaning up its energy sector.

“China has made great strides in renewable energy development and has massive hydropower. So it would be good to learn from that,” Erick said, adding that the two countries were still exploring what kind of partnership would be possible.

Indonesia is set to announce investment plans for JETP next month, ahead of the United Nations COP28 climate summit, three months behind an initial target.

Erick declined to share JETP talk details, saying only: “We cannot wait…there hasn’t been any funding as yet.”

He added that Jakarta is open to working with any nation willing to help it achieve its climate goals and believes in Indonesia’s economic potential, but any cooperation must be on Indonesia’s terms.

“We want this to fit our grand plan, the Indonesia blueprint, not the blueprint of other countries,” Erick said.

At the Belt and Road Forum this Tuesday and Wednesday, Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is popularly known, will showcase a recently launched high-speed 142-kilometre (88.23 mile) railway line worth $7.3 billion named “Whoosh”. The project is funded by loans from China.

In a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Jokowi will bring up a plan to extend the railway some 700 kilometres further to Surabaya city and discuss trade relations, Erick said.

Indonesia also discussed the plan with Chinese Premier Li Qiang when Li visited Jakarta in September.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Stefanno Sulaiman; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)