At the opening session of the 7th Indonesia International Geothermal Convention & Exhibition, the country’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla (JK) insinuated the development of geothermal power plants is very slow. Until now, the installed capacity is only around 2,000 MW.
Responding to this, the Director General of New, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (EBTKE) of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) FX Sutijastoto explained, the character of Indonesian people is different from developed countries. In developed countries, he said, electricity produced by plants with new technology is easily accepted by consumers.
“Affordability is different from developed countries, where income is quite high, with high purchasing power, if there is a breakthrough due to new technology, the cost is high enough, it can be passed through to consumers,” he said at the Jakarta Convention Center, Tuesday August 13, 2019.
That is different from in Indonesia. He said, Indonesia was accustomed to cheap energy. He gave an example as the use of fuel oil (BBM) subsidies.
“We remember our past history. We are too lulled by fuel subsidies, so we enjoy cheap energy as a result when we switch or mindset changes are rather difficult,” he explained
He also gave an example, when electricity rose in 2005-2006. From a survey he conducted in Pekalongan, Central Java, the increase made people willing to ‘pull’ the cable up to 1 km for the sake of electricity. In fact, electricity was still cheap.
“Whereas the price of electricity was 5 cent per kWh at the time. This is what on the one hand there are people capable of wanting to access electricity, but politically they have made adjustments,” he said.
However, he said, the government is looking for ways to quickly develop geothermal power plants. One of them is by providing government-built infrastructure so that geothermal electricity can be cheap and accepted by the community.
“This is geothermal to build infrastructure, can the infrastructure be reimbursed by the government, for example, because some of the transmission construction infrastructure has been carried out by developers. For example, the Poso Hydroelectric Power Station builds around 200 km of transmission financed by the developer but reimbursed by the government. this kind of strategy that we are trying, “he said.
“Maybe friends remember that the hydropower price is cheap 5 cents per kWh or even less. Why? Because the dam is built by the government, for irrigation for others,” he added.
Previously, JK claimed he was surprised by the very slow development of geothermal energy in Indonesia. JK asked PLN and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to find solutions to these problems.
“Everything has been decades, so if we can say that even though there have been 7 conferences, the Chairwoman has been progressing very slowly. 7 times making exhibitions, the result is only 2,000 MW, (whereas) 30 years of experience,” JK said.