Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indonesia set to become no. 1 user of geothermal

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to speed up the development of geothermal power plants in the country to take advantage of the world’s largest potential reserves.

Turn it on: Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa (left) points as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (third right) and his Icelandic counterpart, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson (third left), and his wife, Dorrit Moussaief, as well as Indonesian Geothermal Association chairman Surya Dharma (second right) and geology department head R. Sukhyar of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry look on, during a visit to the ministry’s exhibition booth in Bali. JP/Stanny Angga

The President said existing geothermal power plants in the country were producing a combined 1,100 megawatts (MW), which is about 4.2 percent of the country’s estimated total geothermal energy potential reserves of 28,000 MW.

Indonesia holds 40 percent of the world’s geothermal potential energy reserves, but ranks third for energy output after the United States and the Philippines.

“This is going to change. It is my intention that Indonesia become the largest user of geothermal energy,” Yudhoyono said before 2,500 participants at the World Geothermal Congress, comprising academics, experts, policy makers and geothermal company executives.

Also attending the congress were Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and International Geothermal Association (IGA) president Ladislaush Rybach.

Rybach said he recognized that Indonesia, which is currently expanding geothermal energy output by 5 percent every year, had the potential to become the planet’s biggest user of geothermal energy.

President Grimsson said Iceland was a good example of how to benefit from geothermal potential.

He said Iceland had managed to completely replace oil and coal with geothermal power stations that convert heat trapped in the Earth’s crust into electrical energy.

“Economic benefits derived from geothermal development have been enormous and have transformed Iceland from a developing country in the 1970s to a prosperous country able to survive the economic crisis,” he said.

As a sign of scaling up geothermal development in the country, a total of 12 contracts worth US$5 billion were signed during the opening of the congress on Monday. These projects are part of a $8.6 billion geothermal program to produce 2,885 MW of electricity.

The 12 projects signed Monday, which are part of the second phase of a government project to increase energy output by 10,000 MW, include four projects worth $1.68 billion spread across four administrations in Central Java, East Nusa Tenggara, Lampung and West Java, in cooperation with four private companies; projects worth a total $541 million in North Sulawesi, Bengkulu and Jambi belonging to PLN and Pertamina Geothermal Energy; and a $400 million project in West Java belonging to Star Energy.

Yudhoyono said geothermal energy, dubbed a green energy source, was not only a solution to Indonesia’s energy production but would also help reduce global warming.

“We should now make a sustained effort to tap sources of energy that do not further add to the problem of carbon emissions. For Indonesia, a large part of the solution to that problem is through the successful tapping of our vast resources of geothermal energy,” he said.

President Grimsson said the development of geothermal energy represented a “fundamental energy revolution”.

“Without a fundamental energy revolution, we will never succeed to combat climate change. Geothermal can be harnessed to combat climate change and provide clean energy and thus enhance the prosperity of people in the whole world,” he told the conference.


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