Monday, August 2, 2010


Jakarta, Aug. 2, 2010 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government has been mulling construction of a nuclear power plant since the 1980s prompted by predictions of the increasing unsustainability of the existing and mainly oil- and coal-fired national power generation system.

"Law No. 17/2007 mandates the use of nuclear energy in Indonesia by 2015-2019, so we should have a nuclear power plant by 2019 at the latest," Dr Taswanda Taryo, deputy head for research and development result empowerment of the National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN), said in Surabaya (East Java) recently.

In pursuance of the law, BATAN had formed a BATAN Incorporated involving stakeholders such as BATAN, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the Research and Technology Ministry, LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences), state Power Utility (PLN), the Environmental Affairs Ministry, and the Industry Ministry.

They would decide the technicalities such as the industry owner, technology, location, and licensing, he said.

The ownership question would be decided in 2011, but the status of the ownership had yet to be determined , the alternatives being state-owned company or entirely private.

"For sure, we have researched the question of location since the 1980s. The conclusion was that it should be located on Java`s northern coast to avoid the effect of Earth plate collisions," he said.

BATAN had surveyed 70 locations, and then decided to consider 14 locations of which only four were ultimately shortlisted, including Ujung Bumi (Jepara), Banten, and Bangka Belitung.

Thanks to Indonesia`s preparations including surveys and researches, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) considers Indonesia ready to develop nuclear energy, according to a BATAN official.

"The (IAEA) statement was issued last November 2009," said Dr Taswanda Taryo, on July 28, 2010.

Dr. Taryo gave the information when speaking in a seminar on "Technology and Safety of Nuclear Power Project". Other speakers included Prof. Mukhtasor PhD from the National Energy Council (DEN) and Ian Love from the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

The IAEA`s appraisal covered four readiness aspects, namely human resources, stakeholders, industry and regulations, he said.

Following the appraisal, Indonesia should enter the next concrete phase, namely the nuclear power project itself, he said.

Prof Mukhtasor PhD, a member of the National Energy Council (DEN), said his agency has hold dialogs with those who are for or against the planned nuclear power project.

Those who are against it, always ask about the safety, he said, adding that he has explained that the nuclear technology is now very different from those used in Chernobyl.

Indonesia will no longer have coal deposits by 2020, while the increasing number of the country`s population will need all kinds of energy from marine, solar, geothermal to nuclear, according to the professor.

However, a senior official concerned with the nuclear power plant project was rather pessimistic.

Hudi Hastowo, the head of the National Nuclear Power Agency (BATAN), said the government`s target of completing a nuclear power plant by 2016 would be missed because of opposition from the population of its projected location in Central Java.

Due to the objections of the people of Jepara district on Muria Peninsula, Central Java, another location for the project and more time for its implementation were now needed, he said early July.

"It will take two to three years to find another suitable location. So the execution of the plan will undergo a delay, we cannot yet have a nuclear power plant by 2016," he said.

BATAN was therefore now looking out for possible alternative locations for the project, Hadi said.

He said a number of provincial administrations in the country had actually requested the building of a nuclear plant in their respective jurisdictions but whether they really had a location suitable or safe enough for such a plant was still being determined by meticulous and painstaking studies.

Among the provincial administrations concerned were those of Bangka Belitung, Banten, Gorontalo, West, South and East Kalimantan.

One province where soil conditions had already been found to be more favorable than in Central Java`s Jepara district was Bangka Belitung.

"From the geoseismic point of view, Bangka Belitung`s soil is better than Jepara`s because it has a granite base that gives the soil a more stable structure and this would mean building the plant in Bangka Belitung would be less costly," he said.

To be feasible, Indonesia`s first nuclear plant would have to lie close to the most populous part of the country which was Java and Bali islands. Bagka Belitung was located off Sumatra`s east coast but it was not a problem as the Java-Bali power grid would in the near future be linked up with the power transmission network in Sumatra so that power produced by the nuclear plant could also be distributed in Java and Bali.

Kalimantan was not likely to be a suitable location because it was too distant from Java and Bali, and there were no plans to connect power transmission networks there with those in Java, he said.

Gorontalo province on the island of Sulawesi had proposed the building of a floating nuclear power plant but this was not possible, the Batan chief said.

Last June, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government still had no plan at least in the next five years to develop nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuel to generate electricity.

"Under the government`s basic energy policy, we are striving for mixed energy, namely the combination of fossil fuel and renewable energy, such as geothermal, wind, and solar energy," he said at a meeting with journalists at the Cipanas presidential palace in West Java.

The head of state said the government was still undecided about developing nuclear in five years` time.

"The problem is that developing nuclear energy needs thorough considerations and proper locations. Therefore, on one hand I say nuclear power plants are neither banned nor tabooed but on the other hand we still have to resolve a lot of problems," he said.

After all, he said nuclear power plants might be developed in the country in the future.

"This year the government has no definitive plan to build (a nuclear power plant) in a certain place. Yet if the community can accept it any time in the future the government at that time can make preparations for its development," he said.

The House of Representatives (DPR) has given the green light to the government`s intention to go ahead with its plan to build nuclear power plants (PLTNs).

Looking ahead, Indonesia could no longer rely on unrenewable energy sources such as gas and coal to generate electricity, chairman of the House Commission overseeing energy, technology and the environment Teuku Riefky Harsya said in a press statement last March.

"About safety, I believe that nuclear power plants will not leak if managed properly," he said commenting on the results of the House Commission`s visit to BATAN in Serpong, south of Jakarta.

Japan has offered Indonesia cooperation in the energy sector including developing coal, geothermal and nuclear power plants.

The offer was made through Masaharu Nakagawa, Japanese senior deputy minister for education, culture, sports, science and technology, at his meeting with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) Chief Marzan Aziz early this year.

With regard to the cooperation of developing nuclear power plant, he said it was challenging because lots of Indonesians had yet to accept the presence of nuclear power plants in the country.

In dealing with this matter, Nakagawa said the public awareness campaigns were important to make more people have comprehensive understanding about the benefits of nuclear power plants.

What Japan had so far planned was setting up a training center for the Indonesian nuclear researchers, he said adding that the nuclear power plants would someday be publicly accepted.

In Japan, the nuclear power plants could have been accepted for long time though the country was, like Indonesia, also vulnerable to tsunamis and earthquakes, he said.

Indonesia had uranium reserves in Kalimantan capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of electricity for 150 years.

The country has ratified all the international conventions needed to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants. ***5***

(T.F001/A/F001/A/H-YH) 02-08-2010 20:24:08

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