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Indonesia to pursue nuclear power?

June 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM   |   Comments

JAKARTA, June 14 (UPI) -- Indonesia hasn't dismissed the possibility of using nuclear power, a government official said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta, the country's Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Director General for Oil and Gas Evita Herawati Legowo said that despite the nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant, nuclear power is the most efficient way to provide electricity to improve public welfare.

She noted that a nuclear power plant would need only 0.02 metric tons of uranium, compared to 1,230 tons of oil needed to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

"Nothing in the world is without risk," Evita said of nuclear power during the "Overcoming Energy Security Challenges" session at the two-day summit which concluded Monday, The Jakarta Post reports.

In 2006 President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for 5 percent of Indonesia's electricity to come from nuclear and other "new energy and renewable energy" sources by 2025, toward the government's aim to triple electricity output by 2025.

But environmentalists and locals argue, that because Indonesia sits on a number of major fault lines, the country isn't geologically stable enough to safely support nuclear power.

Government figures indicate that oil-based fuels dominate Indonesia's energy consumption, accounting for 54.4 percent of the country's energy mix last year, followed by natural gas at 26.5 percent and coal at 14.1 percent.

Alternative energy sources, including geothermal and hydroelectric, represent 5 percent of the country's total consumption.

While Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, boasts some 40 percent of the world's geothermal reserves, less than 1,200 megawatts of the energy source have been exploited. The government aims for geothermal energy to account for 9,500 megawatts by 2025.

Evita urged East Asian countries to capitalize on domestic energy sources, both conventional and unconventional, as a way to boost energy security.

She noted that despite Indonesia's high reliance on oil-based fuels, the government is "very serious" in its commitment to develop its renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and bio-energy, as well as unconventional sources, including shale gas, tight gas and coal-bed methane.

"Energy needs are there for Indonesia," said Karen Agustiawan, president director of state oil and gas firm Pertamina, also speaking at the forum, noting that about 65 percent of Indonesian households don't have access to power.

More than 600 business, government and civil society leaders attended the forum on East Asia, hosted by Indonesia this year for the first time.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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