An end to Indonesia’s hospital power blackouts? Sensing reductions in energy use

A team from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and the Australian National University (ANU) are planning to use thousands of sensors to monitor heat, noise, human activity and power usage in commercial buildings in Yogyakarta. This data will help them design a real-time monitoring system that saves energy and can be used in commercial buildings across Indonesia.

Energy demand in Indonesia has grown by 150 per cent over the last 30 years. Electricity supply is struggling to keep up—blackouts are common in hospitals, hotels, offices, shopping centres and university laboratories.

“Our research is helping the building codes have real impact. But to have an even bigger impact we need to retrofit existing buildings,” says Sentagi Sesotya Utami from Universitas Gadjah Mada. He is co-leader of the research, funded by the Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education (DIKTI) and the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

“Indonesia simply doesn’t have enough electricity. Reducing energy use is a much cheaper way to meet demand than building more power stations,” says Tom Worthington, Adjunct Lecturer at ANU’s Energy Change Institute and co-leader of the project. The project also has implications for ANU, Tom says.

“We’re experiencing the same problem—the electricity feeders to campus are maxing out. It costs a lot of money to buy more power so we’re hoping this project can also help us learn how to best to manage the load.”