Technological development and new sources of energy have changed national energy policies in a significant way. In Presidential Regulation No. 5/2006, projections for 2025 still placed new and renewable sources of energy at 17 percent. Such thinking is bound to be altered in the near future by increasing contribution of geothermal sources, biofuel, liquefied coal and other sources like biomass, hydropower, wind power and solar power, to become 25.7 of the total source.
"We have long been lulled into complacency by subsidized fuel," said Jero Wacik, Energy and Mineral Resources minister, interviewed by Tempo on February 28 at his office. Accompanied by the director-general of new and renewable energy, Rida Mulyana, he explained the uses of environmentally-friendly fuel. Excerpts:
Why is the use of new and renewable energy so minimal?
If there is anything I want to leave behind in life, it's new and renewable sources of energy. This is what will save our nation in the future. The era of oil has passed. We must reduce the role of oil, because it is fast depleting and expensive. We must no longer be dependent on oil.
What will replace it?
We still have a lot of gas. Part of it is exported, and some is used domestically. We have plenty of coal, but these are all fossil fuels. Their usage leaves behind a carbon residue. This is not good for our grandchildren. Today, the situation is still manageable, but soon we must move to new and renewable sources. And there is an immense amount of that.
How soon will a transfer to new and renewable energies take place?
I am convinced that by the end of 2014, the first phase of the 10,000 megawatt project will be completed. The second of such project has already been start with new and renewable energies. This includes 4,000 megawatt of geothermal energy, as well as big and small hydro-power generators,
Will there be changes on the projection of energy consumption?
According to the National Energy Policy currently awaiting the approval of the House of Representatives (DPR), there are changes to Presidential Regulation 5/2006 on the sources of power generation. New and renewable energy will get 25 percent of the share, up from 5.7 percent and 17 percent, respectively. We have not calculated how much gas is needed to fuel transportation, but that's the direction we are going. In the future, all cars will be using gas.
What about problems, like bureaucracy, technology and capital investment?
Indonesia has 40 percent of the world's potential geothermal energy, with a capacity of 30,000 megawatt. After all these years, we have only been able to garner 5 percent of it. Why have we been so slow at developing this? First, because geothermal sources are mostly on mountain sides of protected forests. When the Forestry Ministry imposes a ban on those areas, all work comes to a halt. The second impediment is the low selling price of electricity. PLN refuses to buy it at a higher price, keeping it to US$0.56 per kWh, so no one wants to sell it to them. So, I have been seeking solutions to these two problems, otherwise raising the usage of new energy from 5.7 percent to 17 or 25 percent would be nothing more than a dream.
* The full interview is available on this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine