The West Sumatra regional administration plans to phase-out fossil fuel-based power plants with the construction of geothermal and hydro power plants, with a goal of generating 375 megawatts by 2019.
West Sumatra’s current power demand is 480 MW during peak load and around 10 percent less during normal periods.
West Sumatra Energy and Mineral Resources Agency’s oil and gas electricity affairs head, Heri Martinus, said the current installed power output was 550MW, supplied by hydro power, coal and diesel power plants.
“PT Supreme Energy in South Solok is expected to begin supplying 250 MW of power from its geothermal power plant and 125 MW from its mini hydro power plants (PLTM), for a total of 350 MW, which is enough to replace diesel and coal energy,” Heri told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He added that diesel power plants would be phased out and coal-fired steam power plants (PLTU) would be placed on standby during peak load periods.
PT Supreme Energy Muara Laboh began exploring for geothermal energy in 2013 in Liki Pinangawan regency, and is currently exploring six well-heads at an investment of over Rp 1 trillion (US$77 million), hoping to find one that is potentially viable.
Heri said West Sumatra was endowed with potential geothermal reserves of 1,600 Megawatt electric (MWe). The Liki Pinangawan plant has potential reserves of 400 MWe.
Three other geothermal working areas (WKP) are currently in the tender process. The Bukit Kili and Gunung Talang WKPs, with a potential of 83 MW and 35 MW, are located in Solok regency, while the Bonjol WKP, with a potential of 200 MW, is located in Pasaman regency.
West Sumatra is home to the Bukit Barisan mountain range, which holds tremendous potential for hydro-power energy. The rivers coming down off the mountains can be used to propel 1,000 MW from mini-hydro generators, and 100 MW from micro hydro plants.
The West Sumatra Energy and Mineral Resources Agency has already mapped-out potential sites for 54 PLTM that could produce 485 MW.
Currently, 43 PLTM permits have been issued to domestic investors in a number of regencies, with reserves able to produce between 1 MW and 10 MW of power. The unit in South Solok and the unit in Pesisir Selatan have sold their outputs of 7.5 MW and 1 MW, respectively, to state power firm PT PLN.
Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) West Sumatra chapter deputy director Desriko Malayu said the provincial administration target could be achieved sooner if the administration worked more seriously.
“The administration, however, has been two-faced. On the one hand, they are working on green energy, but on the other [hand], they keep issuing permits for coal-powered plants and coal mining,” Desriko said.
PT Supreme Energy spokesman Yulnofrin Napilus said the geothermal projects in Muara Laboh, South Solok were only able to produce 70 MW of the 220 MW targeted. The 70 MW is scheduled to be operational by May 2018.
“We have informed PT PLN and based on an agreement, [the firm] will provide power grids at the location, so the power can be connected to the Sumatra power network,” said Yulnofrin.
PT Supreme Energy commenced exploring in 2008 an investment value of almost Rp 2 trillion.