Indonesia is entering an era of transition in 2014. The largest economy in Southeast Asia, the world’s 4th largest population, and the world’s 3rd largest democracy has just gone through a momentous period of political change, in which a new president from a new generation of political leaders has been elected.  The vast archipelago nation of 13,466 islands stretching 5,150km has a new president with a new set of political, social and economic challenges to grapple with. Indonesia has come a long way since “reformasi” brought democracy and decentralization sixteen years ago. Its new president now faces the challenge of building on past successes and laying down a new path for the country’s future. Providing energy and implementing reforms in the energy sector will be one of the key challenges – if not the most paramount – the country has to face.

The year 2030 is another sixteen years from now. Indonesia’s energy future is uncertain. The decisions that are made over the next few years could lead to different paths and different scenarios. It is imperative for Indonesia to consider and to plan for its energy future. As a maritime archipelago nation, the metaphor of a ship sailing the seas and contending with different weather conditions is used to explore and elaborate on four different potential scenarios of what the Indonesian energy sector may look like in 2030. Using these four different scenarios, which describe the different dynamics that may be in play, Indonesian stakeholders can come together on the same page to discuss the issues and challenges the country faces and how we may best address them to ensure an optimal outcome for Indonesia’s energy future. These stories of navigating the seas and waves can help us focus on what actions can and must be taken to address the challenges and avoid storms and shipwreck.

Energy and energy resources have always been a central issue for Indonesia’s government and economy. Energy has been a national priority for past governments and will be an even more central issue for Indonesia’s new government and political leaders. After ten years of stable rule during the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the political transition gives us reason to renew our focus and approach to how we deal with Indonesia’s current and future energy challenges.

Scenario planning is a methodology in strategic planning used to develop flexible long-term plans, involving aspects of systems thinking. Using this methodology, we can develop different scenarios of Indonesia’s energy future in 2030 and think seriously about long-term goals. Only by planning and thinking now, can we avoid potential pitfalls in the future. The case of South Africa’s transition from apartheid regime to the rule of Nelson Mandela was an example of how scenario planning was successfully used to provide possible pathways for the future. With four possible scenarios developed, narratives on the future direction of the country were developed that influenced policy making towards the South Africa that we see today.

Indonesia is not South Africa, nor is Indonesia’s energy sector now alike that of South Africa’s overall situation in 1989, but well thought out trajectories on how Indonesia’s energy sector could develop and take shape in 2030 can help inform and guide all stakeholders involved in Indonesia’s energy policy and help provide Indonesia’s new government with valuable input as it formulates new policies and strategies for Indonesia’s energy sector. These scenarios can help spark debate and focus minds from across the nation and help us combine our collective knowledge to address the intrinsic issues we face. It is in this spirit that 28 leading thinkers across Indonesia’s energy sector have come together from across government, political parties, state-owned enterprises, private companies, academia and civil society organisations to create these scenarios for Indonesia’s energy sector. The goal is to help shape the future for Indonesia and kick-start a debate on solutions, so that our new government and president can work together to create a sound and sustainable energy policy toward 2030.