Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Govt to tender 13 geothermal areas

Fitri Wulandari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government plans to tender 13 geothermal working areas to develop the underutilized energy resource for electricity and other industries.

"The government will the working areas to interested investors through a tender. But it may not start until the issuance of a government regulation on geothermal energy sometime this year," executive secretary of the Directorate General of Geology and Mineral Resources Sukhyar told reporters in a discussion on Friday.

He, however, did not provide a specify a schedule for the tender.

Sukhyar said the government was currently conducting a study to measure the proven reserves in the working areas, which were previously under the control of state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina.

He said the study was expected to provide accurate data on the geothermal resource to help minimize exploration costs for would- be investors.

He added that lower exploration costs would help reduce the price of electricity from the geothermal plants.

Pertamina relinquished the geothermal areas to the government in 2002 as it lacked the necessary funds to develop them.

According to Sukhyar, Pertamina currently manages around 13 geothermal working areas with potential reserves of up to 3,600 megawatts (MW). Pertamina developed the areas in cooperation with other private power firms.

Geothermal energy -- pressurized steam, sometimes with hot water -- is an energy source produced when groundwater descending from the earth's surface meets the molten magma ascending from the earth's core in exceptionally hot surroundings. It is considered an environmentally clean energy source, with a carbon dioxide emission rate 90 percent lower than that of oil-fired power plants.

Geothermal energy in the country has been underutilized despite its abundance. Located in the "ring of fire" volcano belt, Indonesia holds 40 percent of the world's geothermal reserves or 27,140 MW.

Indonesia currently has a number of geothermal power plants with a combined capacity of 807 MW (around 3 percent of the total geothermal potential). The plants are located in Kamojang, Salak, Darajat and Wayang Windu (all in West Java), Lahendong (in North Sulawesi), and Sibayak (North Sumatra).

Last year, the House of Representatives passed a geothermal bill into law in a bid to lure more investors to develop the energy.

Sukhyar said the government planned to gradually increase production of geothermal energy to 2,000 MW in 2008 and up to 6,000 MW in 2020.

Sukhyar said development of geothermal energy was facing many problems including overlapping regulations. For example, Law No. 41/1999 on forestry, which bans open pit mining in protected forests, would hamper development of the energy because many geothermal resources are located in forest areas.

Sukhyar said development of the energy is also important for industry and agriculture such as traditional pharmaceutical products, dairy products, food processing and the cement industry.


Geothermal working areas

Areas Possible Reserves (MW) --------------------------------------------------------- 1.Sabang (Inboih-Jaboi), Aceh -- 2.Seulawah Aceh 282 3.Rantau Dedap, South Sumatra -- 4.Sorik Merapi, North Sumatra 420 5.Suoh Sekincau, Lampung *G. Sekincau 130 *Suoh Antatai 330 6.Gunung Rajabasa, Lampung 40 7.Kaldera D. Banten *Rawa Dano 115 *G. Karang 170 8.Cisolok, West Java *Cisukarame 83 *Cisolok 50 9.Tangkuban Perahu 90 10.Ngebel-Wilis, East Java -- 11.Ijen, East Java 185 12.Ungaran, Central Java 52 13.Telomoyo, Central Java --

Source: Directorate General of Geology and Mineral Resources