Energy Projects Need to Consider the Public Acceptance

IMG_4407_edt Professor Peta Ashworth, the Chair of Sustainable Energy Futures at the University of Queensland, Australia, delivered a public lecture about “Achieving Social License to Operate for Energy Projects” at Jakarta Campus (17/7/2017). This lecture is a part of her series of lectures she gave while visiting SBM ITB Jakarta, mainly for teaching at SBM ITB Energy MBA (ENEMBA) Program. In the lecture, Prof. Ashworth stressed the importance of trust and public acceptance to run energy projects.

Prof. Ashworth started her lecture by presenting energy trilemma index to measure countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through three dimensions: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. These three dimensions need to be balanced to ensure the successfulness of energy projects. Energy security deals with energy supply, reliability of energy infrastructure, and ability to meet current and future energy demand. Energy equity provides accessibility and affordability of energy supply across the population Environmental sustainability is related to supply and demand-side energy efficiency and development of renewable and low-carbon energy.

Across the world, billions of people remain without access to basic energy. Considering the critical need of energy to drive prosperity, it is clear that a range of new energy projects will be required. Whether they are low emission fossil fuels, nuclear plants or renewable energy projects, each technology is not without contention.Today new energy projects are being promoted through a range of government policies, private investment or even through a mix of public and private partnerships. Whichever the route, this suggests that many energy project developers should be able to gain a social licence to operate (SLO).

Social license to operate itself is basically approval from local community and other stakeholders for a project run by business. The acceptance of social license depends on the matchness between stakeholders’ expectation and the business’ behavior in running the energy project. Here, public trust is based on organizational competence and perceived organizational integrity.

Attended by students, faculties, alumni, and industry practitioners, the lecture also discussed some cases in getting social license to operate for several energy projects in Indonesia. The lecture concluded that all stakeholders need to find common ground as well as to seek mutual understanding to gain social acceptance in every energy project.

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