The government, pressing ahead with its program to electrify underdeveloped regions across the nation, will next month hold a tender for the procurement of 30,000 home solar-power units.
One home solar unit can generate between 50 and 80 watts of electricity.
J. Purwono, director general for electricity and energy use at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said Tuesday that the government had allocated Rp 247 billion (US$27.4 million) for the project.
"We have opted for solar energy as it will be cheaper than building power plants," Purwono said. "With an estimated price of Rp 8 million for each unit, it will definitely be much more economical."
Currently, out of Indonesia's total population of 260 million, about 100 million people living outside Java and Bali islands do not have access to electricity.
Based on 2006 figures, state electricity firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) can only light up 54 percent of Indonesia's villages given that its power plants have a total generating capacity of only 25,000 megawatts.
The solar-power program, to be jointly run by the Energy Ministry and State Ministry for Disadvantaged Regions, aims to provide 30,000 solar units with capacities ranging from 50 watts to 80 watts per unit.
"We haven't decided specifically on the regions yet as further discussion will be needed with the State Ministry for Disadvantaged Regions," Purwono said.
He added that the tender would prioritize local producers as there were many domestic companies that could produce good quality solar-power equipment at competitive prices.
The tender is expected to take place in March so that the government will be able to take delivery of the solar units in April, Purwono said.