Wednesday, 28 Apr, 2010 Environment

Indonesia to Exploit More Volcano Power to Produce Geothermal Energy


It was unveiled that Indonesia decided to harness more power from its volcanoes to generate geothermal energy, thus becoming a leader in the field.

It is worth mentioning that the extensive archipelago consists of about 17,000 islands, containing hundreds of volcanoes. It was estimated that all of these volcanoes hold about 40 percent of the planet's geothermal energy potential. However, only a small part of that potential has been exploited, which is why the government of Indonesia intends to cooperate with private investors, the World Bank, Japan and the United States to make use of the power of volcanoes.

According to Indonesian Geothermal Association chief Surya Darma, the biggest obstacle facing the government's goal to add 4,000 megawatts of geothermal power to the currently used 1,189 megawatts is the cost. Today Indonesia produces power using dirty coal-fired power plants that burn the local coal. To built a geothermal plant the government will have to pay twice as much and would require a long period of time on research and development.

However, if the government manages to build geothermal power plant, it will be able to transform unlimited free supplies of volcanic heat into electrical power at much lower costs. At the same time Indonesia will considerably cut the level of pollution.

The energy analyst Herman Darnel Ibrahim stated that an extra 4,000MW of power will cost about 12 billion dollars, with 400 million coming from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a number of other lenders. He also mentioned that making studies in the field will require from 3 to 5 years, suitability researches for funding will need a year and the construction of the power plant will last about 3 years.

Although Indonesia is probably the only country in the world where the exploitation of geothermal energy will definitely be advantageous, it is currently third in geothermal power production, following the United States and the Philippines.

It would be worth noting that Indonesia, with a population of 234 million people, is one of the fastest developing nations in the Group of 20. Still only 65 percent of Indonesians have the possibility to make use of electricity. The goal of the government is to increase this figure to 90 percent by 2020. Its plan consists of two steps: to provide additional 10,000 megawatts by 2012 by exploiting coal and another 10,000 megawatts from volcanoes by 2014.

Due to the fact that a lot of geothermal sources are located in protected forests, the government looks forward to permit the drilling of well in the conservation regions, while allowing the power plants to be located outside of the forests, reports Physorg.

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