JAKARTA, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Indonesia has the potential to become the world's geothermal energy superpower, said Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Gore spoke Sunday to 350 participants from 21 countries gathered in Jakarta for the Asia Pacific Summit for the Climate Project.
"Scientists and engineers are now saying confidently that certain forms of enhanced geothermal electricity production may represent one of the largest resources of carbon-free electricity available in the world today," Gore said, Indonesia's Antara news agency reports.
"And Indonesia could be a superpower of geothermal electricity. With the new regional super grids that are being proposed on every continent, it can be a significant advance for Indonesia's economy."
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, claims about 40 percent of the world's geothermal reserves.
By 2020, the Indonesian government wants to provide electricity access to 90 percent of its population; about 65 percent currently have access.
Last March Indonesia's energy and mineral resources ministry revised the country's geothermal potential to 28,100 megawatts, up from 27,000 megawatts a decade ago.
The ministry's geological agency said that with 30 years of operation, Indonesia's revised geothermal potential was equal to 12 billion barrels of oil. That compares with the country's current oil reserves of 6.4 billion barrels.
Under Indonesia's national energy policy, the government aims to obtain 95,000 megawatts of power from geothermal sources by 2025. Less than 1,200 megawatts of geothermal energy has been explored.
Because of their dependence on agriculture and limited resources, developing countries in the Asia-Pacific area are more vulnerable to climate changes, yet the region has many opportunities to deal with the issue, Gore said.
During the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced plans to voluntarily cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020.
Gore praised Yudhoyono's Copenhagen initiative, saying that the president had spoken at a time when no other leader of the Group of 77 nations -- a coalition of developing nations -- was willing to step up and make such a commitment.
As for deforestation, Indonesia has the highest rate in the world, with 2.47 million acres cleared per year.
Last year Jakarta signed a $1 billion climate deal with Norway to reduce emissions from forest loss, with a two-year moratorium on forest-clearing that was to have begun Jan. 1. But the Yudhoyono administration has already missed the target and there is no legal framework in place to apply the moratorium, The Jakarta Post reports.