Geothermal energy is a significant source of energy in Indonesia, where 40% of the world’s geothermal potential, estimated at 28,910 MW, is located across 312 locations on several islands such as Java, Sumatra, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi. Indonesia, with its volcanic geology, ranks 3rd among all countries in the world, in utilizing geothermal power with its impressive 1,699 MW from geothermal power plants, which represents about 3.7 % of the country’s total electric power demand. (The United States and the Philippines are the two ahead of Indonesia).  The abundance of geothermal resources in Indonesia is the result of its location within the Ring of Fire i.e. a region where continental plates meet around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Even due to its huge geothermal potential, Indonesia still mainly relies on fossil energy resources and only less than 5 % of its potential is being currently used. By 2025, Indonesia with its aggressive development plans aims to produce more than 7000 MW of geothermal power, which will make Indonesia world’s leader of geothermal energy production.

Figure 1: Location of 11 geothermal power plants within Indonesia (Pambudi, 2017)

History of geothermal use in Indonesia started as early as during the Dutch colonial era when the first proposal of energy use from nearby volcanos was proposed. Currently, geothermal power is being generated in 11 geothermal plants including 377 MW in Gunung Salak, 270 MW in Darajat, 227 MW in Wayang Windu, 230 MW in Kamojang, 60 MW in Dieng 55 MW in Patuha 165 MW in Ulubelu, 12 MW in Sibayak, 80 MW in Lahendong and 2.5 MW in Mataloko as well as 10 MW in Ulumbu. Majority of Indonesia reservoirs are water-dominated, however, two reservoirs in Gunung Halak and Lahendong are vapor-dominated, where dry steam power plants are employed.

Fig. 2. Drilling Rig on site of the Muara Laboh geothermal project, Indonesia (source: Sumitomo Corp.)

To promote the wider development of geothermal energy, the government had made a revision, where geothermal energy production is no longer classified as a mining operation. The geothermal energy sector amounts to up to 80 % of overall renewable energy investment in Indonesia, worth up to US$1.7 billion. One of the main challenges in the wider development of geothermal energy resources in Indonesia is that it could potentially disrupt designated conserved forest reserves, as approximately 80 % of the country’s geothermal reserves are located on them.

This concludes the second Geothermal Country Overview blog post in our series. Check back weekly as we post our next country update!

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April 12, 2019

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