JAKARTA, June 7, 2011 — 7 in 10 Indonesians polled in a GE Energy-commissioned survey recently identified ‘Air Pollution’ as their greatest environmental concern. The results, derived from face-to-face interviews with 350 Indonesians representing a cross section of society, also revealed strong concern about toxic fumes from non-biodegradable products and rising use of chemicals in industry, both of which contribute to air pollution.
More than half of all respondents showed a mature understanding of the causes of air pollution by selecting the ‘burning of fossil fuel like coal, diesel and gas for power generation’ as one of the top three causes of air pollution. However, awareness of solutions to mitigate air pollution, such as the use of renewable sources for electricity generation was extremely low.
Less than 1 in 10 people could accurately identify renewable energy sources unaided and only 1 percent of respondents could identify geothermal energy as a form of renewable energy, despite plans for geothermal energy to comprise nearly half of Indonesia’s next 10,000 MW electrification program. More than half of all respondents could not identify a single source of renewable energy and 1 in 5 people mistakenly identified oil/petrol/diesel as a form of renewable energy. Several others also wrongly finger-pointed natural gas, coal and nuclear as renewable sources of energy despite these fuels being finite energy resources.
Among respondents who could accurately identify renewable energy sources unaided, the best known example was solar, which was recognized by 1 in 4 people, followed by hydro and wind.
“The positive thing is, once examples of renewable energy sources were shown to respondents, and its non-finite benefits explained, an overwhelming 9 in 10 stated that renewable energy would be necessary if we care about the environment,” said Widhyawan Prawiraatmadja, Country Executive for GE Energy Indonesia. “I believe this shows that we Indonesians are fundamentally concerned about the environment and would support measures to improve environmental sustainability, especially if it positively impacts our daily lives by improving the quality of the air we breathe in.”
Presently, Indonesia is a country rich in energy resources but it is also the largest energy consumer in the ASEAN region, with  energy demand expected to grow 7% y-o-y in the next ten years. According to Widhyawan, ”With the exception of oil, Indonesia is presently self-sufficient in terms of energy supplies. However, this self-sufficiency is dependent on finite energy resources, with fossil fuels currently accounting for nearly 70% of the primary energy mix and 84% of the power generation fuel mix. Growing the usage of renewable energy will become increasingly critical if Indonesia wants to conserve its natural resources for future generations.”
In addition to renewable energy, Widhyawan also highlighted the growing importance of tapping into Indonesia’s reserves of coal bed methane (CBM). Indonesia’s reserves of CBM are estimated to be  almost thrice as much as its reserves of natural gas, and could be used to improve rural electrification as much of it lies in coal beds in interior areas. The methane is released through mining activities and can be harnessed to generate electricity at less than half the cost of diesel generators, which currently account for about 40% of the country’s needs. Said Widhyawan, “CBM would not only be cheaper than diesel but would utilize a cleaner burning technology for power generation. Replacing diesel with CBM will improve our air quality, which will ultimately benefit all Indonesians.”