The Association of Southeast Asian Nations aims to quadruple its installed renewable energy capacity by 2025. Southeast Asia has abundant renewable energy resources – including solar, wind, and geothermal – yet difficulties in acquiring land pose significant barriers to project development. This study compares and contrasts the processes of land acquisition and potential implications for local land uses and livelihoods associated with two large-scale wind projects in Indonesia and the Philippines. Despite similarities in technologies and resource availability, the land acquisition requirements for the Philippine project were found to be almost 8 times greater than that of the Indonesian project when measured on a per megawatt basis. Variation in land requirements are attributed to differences in processes for determining compensation, restrictions on land acquisition related to agrarian reform efforts, and the extent to which local governments can meaningfully engage in the environmental review process. The findings support policy recommendations that respond to energy challenges in a way that attends to the specificity of local political-ecological contexts and broader climate and development goals.
Dr. Sean Kennedy is Assistant Professor in the Department Urban and Regional Planning at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research and teaching interests span areas of urban sustainability, international planning, environmental governance, and regional development, with a geographic focus on Southeast Asia and the United States.