[LETTERS to the editor]Korea can help Indonesia go nuclearI would like to give my humble opinion on Indonesia’s readiness to build a nuclear power plant.
There is a high demand for electricity in Indonesia, which, with an estimated population of 245 million, is the fourth-most populous nation in the world. However, Perusahaan Listrik Negara, the state-owned electricity company, is unable to fill the country’s needs.
Most Java and Bali residents have been experiencing intermittent blackouts, especially in 2005, due to poor maintenance of the aging power plants. Today, 36 percent of the power plants run on crude oil, while others are fueled by coal, natural gas, hydropower and geothermal energy. The skyrocketing price of crude oil has increased the operation costs of the state power company, forcing it to raise rates several times.
Indonesia’s electricity plan for 2005-2025 has suggested nuclear energy as an alternative. In 2005, Seodyartomo, chairman of Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional (Batan) ― Indonesia’s national nuclear energy agency ― announced the country would have a nuclear power plant by 2016.
The Indonesian government is hugely interested and committed to building a nuclear power plant based on South Korean technology. The Korea Electric Power Corp. and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. are cooperating with the state electric company in a study for the construction of a nuclear power plant.
Indonesia can be considered an emerging market for nuclear businesses, considering the high demand for electricity and the Indonesian government’s interest. However, there are several challenges in making nuclear power a reality.
First, the Indonesian public might not be receptive to the idea of a nuclear power plant due to negative perceptions formed in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Chernobyl tragedy.
Human resources for a nuclear power plant are another major concern, though the government’s nuclear energy agency, Batan, claims Indonesia has the experts needed.
Having a nuclear power plant requires a commitment of 20 to 30 years. Thus, the quality of human resources needed must be maintained in this time frame.
Possible human error and disposal of nuclear and radioactive waste are major concerns. The fall of the aerospace industry, Perseroan Terbatas Dirgantara Indonesia, and the national automobile-maker, Timor, mostly due to poor management and corruption, raises questions about Indonesia’s capacity for managing a high-technology industry. It is important for the government to provide objective perspectives in education about nuclear power and also state how they will manage the electricity business.
I recommend that the Indonesian government further cooperate with South Korean experts in giving needed information to the public to encourage more confidence and to seek South Korean companies as high-potential investors for this industry considering the experience of these companies.
by Rachel Dwiayutia