Information flow to increase support for tidal energy development in remote islands of a developing country: agent-based simulation of information flow in Flores Timur Regency, Indonesia

Energy Sustain Soc. 2021;11(1):26. doi: 10.1186/s13705-021-00302-8. Epub 2021 Jul 21.


Background: Public awareness is crucial for successful deployment of tidal energy, a renewable energy source that can provide clean electricity to remote islands. However, considering public attitudes on tidal energy are not well known, especially in developing countries, a barrier exists in implementing public engagement strategies. This study aims to contribute by identifying strategies for information provision-the initial step in public engagement-and estimate how these can be engaged to enhance support for tidal energy among the local public in a remote area of a developing country, in this case, Flores Timur Regency, Indonesia, considering their socio-cultural background.

Methods: In this paper, we employ statistical analyses using multinomial probit modelling to identify the key variables that shape information flow. The aptness of the variables is then verified using post-estimation techniques for their use as input parameters for the simulation of the information flow in the field study area. Agent-based simulation (ABS) is employed to replicate the actual conditions in Flores Timur Regency, Indonesia, and simulate the flow of information through the local community.

Results: According to the multinomial probit estimations, the people belonging to the top hierarchical group show a higher probability to support tidal energy compared to the members belonging to the lower groups. Understandably, around twice as many information flow cycles are needed to disseminate information to the members of the lowest hierarchical group, compared to the members of the top hierarchical group. The results also show that increasing the amount of available information has a positive impact on information dissemination.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that information provision is highly effective with propagation of information that specifically highlights the individual benefits, rather than the community benefits of tidal energy. Additionally, savings in terms of costs, time, and efforts can be realized if the most influential members of the local community are targeted initially before including all other stakeholders. The study also indicated that locals absorb more information and increase their support for tidal energy when additional data is made available. Finally, as long-term strategy, information provision becomes most effective when the local population gains higher educational capabilities.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s13705-021-00302-8.

Keywords: Agent-based simulation; Developing country; Indonesia; Information flow; Multinomial probit; Public support; Social hierarchy; Tidal energy.