Faced with fast-growing demand for electricity, an expert has urged the government not to allow state power utility PT PLN to implement its plan to export power in 2014 but to focus instead on increasing the country’s electrification ratio.
Iwa Garniwa, director of energy studies at the University of Indonesia, argued that the government should make energy conservation the priority in policy-making. It was better for the country to buy electricity, not sell it, he added.
“Even a country like the US doesn’t excessively exploit its energy resources. It buys oil, gas and other primary energy sources from other countries. We should talk about future generations,” he told reporters after a discussion at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s directorate general for electricity in Jakarta on Friday.
Iwa added that the government should boost the availability of electricity in the country so that industries could grow and Indonesia could export not only raw materials, but also products with added value.
“We have to sell products. Electricity has no added value, thus the benefit for our country is limited,” he said.
“Another issue the government has to consider is the environment. Our electricity is predominantly generated by coal, which isn’t environmentally friendly. We don’t want other countries enjoying faster economic growth by buying our electricity while we face environmental problems,” Iwa emphasized.
As reported previously, PLN has announced that it plans to build a 250-kilovolt (kV) subsea cable transmission line connecting Indonesia and Malaysia, which will be used to channel electricity from coal-fired power plants in South Sumatra to the Malaysian peninsular.
Besides exporting, PLN will also import from Malaysia.
Electricity director general Jarman explained that in 2014, Indonesia would start to import around 50 megawatts (MW) for five years in a bid to curb the utilization of oil-based fuels in West Kalimantan. The imported power would be generated by hydro power, he added.
“If we use diesel fuel, the cost may hit 30 US cents per kilowatt-hour [kWh], while the imported price is probably pegged at only 9 cents,” he revealed.
PLN’s president director, Nur Pamudji, reported that in West Kalimantan, the peak burden was 230 MW. He predicted that by early 2015, the burden would soar to 400 MW.
“We hope we can make a deal with SEB [PT Sinar Elektronika] this year so that the construction of the transmission line can be started as soon as possible. The construction will take around two years [to complete],” he said.
He claimed the transmission line would benefit both Indonesia and Malaysia so that if there was an electricity problem in one country, the other one could help.