Nuclear Power in Indonesia

(Updated 29 December 2015)

  • Indonesia has a greater depth of experience and infrastructure in nuclear technology than any other southeast Asian country except Australia.
  • A 10 MWe experimental nuclear power plant is planned to be built at Serpong, near Jakarta. Conceptual design has been completed by Russia. Plans for larger units are delayed.

Indonesia's population of 242 million is served by power generation capacity of only 35 GWe in 2012. IEA figures for 2013 show production of 216 TWh, 3 TWh imports, 110 TWh from brown coal, 52 TWh from gas, 27 TWh from oil, 17 TWh from hydro and 9 TWh geothermal. It has per capita electricity consumption of around 500 kWh/yr, but 36% of the population in 2013 have no access to electricity. The government has targeted a 26% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.

With an industrial production growth rate of 10.5%, electricity demand is estimated to reach 450 billion kWh in 2026. At present a low reserve margin with poor power plant availability results in frequent blackouts. The Java-Bali grid system accounts for more than three quarters of Indonesia's electricity demand – 132 TWh in 2012. PT PLN (Persero), the Indonesia Electricity Corporation, projects 55 GWe new capacity by 2021, 38 GWe of this coal-fired. It also plans major grid enhancements on Java, on Sumatra, and Kalimantan, with a HVDC link Sumatra to Java.

More than one-third of Indonesia's electricity is generated by oil and gas, so as well as catering for growth in demand in its most populous region, the move to nuclear power will free up oil for export. However, in mid-2012 the National Energy Council (DEN) said that nuclear power was an unlikely last resort in the country.

In March 2015 the government issued a white paper on national energy development policy to 2050. In this, nuclear power is expected to provide 5 GWe by 2025, alongside other new and renewable sources providing 12 GWe. In December the National Energy Council completed the national energy plan to 2050 which awaited presidential signature. This is reported to exclude major nuclear capacity, but has major increases in oil, gas and renewables.

Nuclear proposals

Following earlier tentative proposals, in 1989 the government initiated a study focused on the Muria Peninsula in central Java and carried out by the National Atomic Energy Agency (BATAN – Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional) established in 1958. It led to a comprehensive feasibility study for a 7000 MWe plant, completed in 1996, with Ujung Lemahabang as the specific site, selected for its tectonic stability. Plans for the initial plant on the Muria Peninsula in central Java were then deferred indefinitely early in 1997. A National Nuclear Act was passed in 1997.

Then a 2001 power generation strategy showed that introduction of a nuclear plant on the 500 kV Java-Bali grid would be possible in 2016 for 2 GWe rising to 6-7 GWe in 2025, using proven 1000 MWe technology with investment cost $2000/kWe. The Java-Bali interconnected system accounts for more than three quarters of Indonesia's electricity demand.

Under the 2006 National Electricity Planning Scheme 2006-26 and Presidential Decree #43 in 2006 the project may be given to an Independent Power Producer to build and operate. Sites on the central north coast of Java were then under consideration, with access to the country’s main grid infrastructure. Plans were to call tenders in 2008 for two 1000 MWe units, Muria 1&2, leading to decision in 2010 with construction starting soon after and commercial operation from 2016 and 2017, but these plans were put on hold. Fuel services would be purchased from abroad and fuel would preferably be leased. Used fuel would be stored centrally in the medium term.

The government said that it had $8 billion earmarked for four nuclear plants of total 6 GWe to be in operation by 2025, and aimed to meet 2% of power demand from nuclear by 2017. It was anticipated that nuclear generation cost would be about 4 cents/kWh (US) compared with 7 c/kWh for oil and gas.

In mid-2010 three sites were being considered for main plants: Muria (central Java, actually 3 locations), Banten (west Java) and Bangka Island (off southern Sumatra to NE, 2 locations: West Bangka and South Bangka). All are on the north shores, away from the tectonic subduction zone. Over 2011-13 BATAN undertook a feasibility study for Bangka, and it signed an agreement with the Bangka-Belitung provincial government. Bangka is far from any active volcano, has low seismic hazard, no tsunami hazard (shallow sea), and low population. Site evaluation of Muntok, West Bangka and Permis, South Bangka, showed both to be suitable for some 10 GWe capacity meeting 40% of the demand in Sumatra, Java and Bali. Most of this capacity would be at the West Bangka site, with 600 MWe at Permis. After a change in provincial government, these Bangka sites receded from immediate consideration. 

BATAN’s focus in 2013 shifted to West Kalimantan, using small reactor units suited to the relative lack of grid infrastructure there and where most electricity is imported from Malaysia. Six designs were being evaluated. In November 2013 the Research & Technology Ministry (RISTEK) affirmed its intention of building a small (eg 30 MWe) power reactor, at an unspecified place. 

In May 2015 the Energy & Mineral Resources ministry said that a feasibility study on building a nuclear power plant at Bangka-Belitung had been completed and another was under way for Kalimantan. The question of whether such a plant would be under PT PLN or private remained open. 

In December 2013, on the 55th anniversary of founding BATAN, the minister said that a 30 MW experimental nuclear power reactor (RDE) or non-commercial power reactor (RDNK) and a gamma irradiation facility would be built by BATAN at Serpong, the site of its largest research reactor. In March 2015 BATAN said: “RDE/RDNK is a strategy of the government to introduce the nuclear reactor which produces electricity and at the same time could be used for experiment/research. The RDE selected is the 4th generation which possesses higher safety technology than the previous generations. RDE is a miniature NPP which in the future could be applied to regions which do not need a large power source, especially in the Central and Eastern parts of Indonesia.” As well as producing electricity, “eventually this type of reactor could be utilized for desalination, production of hydrogen, and coal liquifaction process... Several countries are attracted to become partners of Indonesia to contribute in the development of the RDNK/RDE, among others Japan, China, South Africa and Russia.” BATAN expects that RDE/RDNK may operate from 2019.

Either as the RDE/RDNK or in addition to it, BATAN is planning to build a test and demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR) of up to 10 MWe. This is with a view to a number of 100 MWe units following in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and islands. Construction of the demonstration unit was expected to take four years, with the start of operation after 2020.

Then in April 2015 Rusatom announced that a consortium of Russian and Indonesian companies led by NUKEM Technologies had won a contract for the preliminary design of the multi-purpose 10 MWe HTR in Indonesia, which would be “a flagship project in the future of Indonesia’s nuclear program.” It will be a pebble-bed HTR at Serpong. NUKEM is already involved with fuel for the research reactors there, and it has considerable expertise in HTRs from Germany and South Africa. The reason for deciding on an HTR is that there is more potential for process heat. Atomstroyexport, OKBM and SRI SIA Luch are involved. The contract covers a feasibility study on the conceptual design and the basic design documentation. These were completed by OKBM Afrikantov in December 2015, and will lead to BATAN calling for bids to construct the reactor, for both electricity and process heat. Atomproekt is architect general.

Russia is keen to export floating nuclear power plants (FNPP), on a fully-serviced basis, to Indonesia as a means of providing power to its smaller inhabited islands. In August 2015 Rosatom and BATAN signed a cooperation agreement on the construction of these.

In September 2015 Rusatom Overseas Inc signed an agreement with BATAN on the construction of large nuclear power plants in Indonesia. It also referred to the FNPPs.

In October 2015 Martingale from the USA signed an agreement with the Indonesia Thorium Consortium – comprising state-owned companies PT Industry Nuklir Indonesia (INUKI), PT PLN and PT Pertamina – to build a ThorCon thorium molten salt reactor to generate electricity. Martingale is developing the ThorCon 250 MWe design, and aims to commission one there in 2021.

According to JAEA, BATAN published plans in June 2014 for two 1000 MWe LWR reactors on Java, Madura or Bali from 2027, and for two more in Sumatra (Bangka?) from 2031. This is unconfirmed from BATAN but is reported in connection with the HTR agreement.

International support for Indonesian plans

Russia's Rosatom signed a memorandum of understanding on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with BATAN in June 2015. This is designed to lead to other areas of cooperation beyond the HTR project, including the possibility of constructing Russian nuclear power units in Indonesia.

In July 2007 Korea Electric Power Corp. and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia's PT Medco Energi Internasional to progress a feasibility study on building two 1000 MWe OPR-1000 units from KHNP at a cost of US$ 3 billion. This was part of a wider energy collaboration.

In addition, BATAN has undertaken a pre-feasibility study for a small Korean SMART reactor for power and desalination on Madura island. However, this awaits the building of a reference plant in Korea. Also the province of Gorontalo on Sulawesi was reported to be considering a floating nuclear power plant from Russia, and late in 2007 a cooperation agreement with Japan was signed, envisaging its help in building and operating nuclear power plants.

The Japanese and Indonesian governments signed a cooperation agreement in November 2007 relating to assistance to be provided for the preparation, planning, and promotion of Indonesia's nuclear power development and assistance for public relations activities. In August 2014 the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) announced that it has agreed to extend this cooperation agreement with BATAN to include research and development of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTRs).

The IAEA has been reviewing the safety aspects of both Muria and Madura proposals, with Indonesia's Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency – Badan Pengawas Tenaga Nuklir (BAPETEN). It was then looking at the Bangka sites. BAPETEN was established in 1998 and reports directly to the President.

Public opinion

In December 2013 RISTEK reported the results of a poll conducted by an independent agency PT Iconesia Solution. Community acceptance in Indonesia is increasing, and 76.5% agreed with the development of nuclear science and technology, while 60.4% agreed with developing a nuclear power plant in the country.

R&D

Indonesia has a number of nuclear-related facilities in operation. BATAN operates three research reactors: in Serpong, Banten on the western outskirts of Jakarta (30 MW), Bandung, west Java (2 MW), and in Yogyakarta, central Java (100 kW).

The Serpong multipurpose reactor, which started up in 1987, is intended to support the introduction of nuclear power to the country. It is in the Litbangyasa Serpong Nuclear Zone, located in the Research Centre for Science and Technology (PUSPIPTEK), Serpong. The main facility here is the German 30 MW Multipurpose Reactor GA. Siwabessy (RSG-GAS), managed and operated by the Multi Purpose Reactor Centre (PRSG). It is normally run at 15 MW. Also there are the Centre for Reactor Technology and Nuclear Safety (PTRKN), Centre for Development of Nuclear Informatics (PPIN), Nuclear Device Engineering Centre (NEDC), Radioisotope Radiofarmaka Centre (PRR), Materials Technology Centre for Nuclear Fuel (PTBGN), Radioactive Waste Technology Centre (PTLR), Nuclear Industrial Materials Technology Centre (PTBIN), Centre for Standardization and Nuclear Quality Assurance (PSJMN), and the Centre for Nuclear Technology Partnership (PKTN).

A Government-owned company, PT Batan Teknologi, produces medical and industrial isotopes (including Mo-99) for domestic needs using the facilities in Serpong.

At Yogyakarta, as well as the 100 kW Kartini research reactor, there is the Teknologi Accelerator and Process Materials Centre (PTAPB) and the College of Nuclear Technology (STTN). 

At Bandung the country’s first research reactor was built in 1965, a small Triga mkII which was subsequently boosted to 2 MW, and the site also hosts the Nuclear Materials Technology and Radiometric Centre (PTNBR) where nuclear medicine in the country was established. 

Friday Market in Jakarta is a larger nuclear establishment, with Isotopes and Radiation Technology Applications Centre (PATIR), Technology Centre for Radiation Safety and Metrology (PTKMR), Nuclear Geology Development Centre (PPGN), Centre for Education and Training, and the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology Dissemination (PDIN).

The country also has front-end capabilities in ore processing, conversion and fuel fabrication, all at a laboratory scale, though PT Batan Teknologi assembles fuel elements for the research reactors using imported US fuel. There have been no experiments in reprocessing, but BATAN operates a radwaste program including for spent fuel from the research reactors.

Regulation and safety

A 2014 review of law and regulations confirmed that BATAN had the authority to develop and operate the RDNK/RDE reactor in accordance with the Nuclear Energy and Government Regulation law 1997, and the License of Nuclear Installation and Utilization of Nuclear Materials law 2014.

In November 2009 the IAEA undertook an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission to Indonesia. Against 19 parameters, "no actions needed" on six, "significant actions needed" on three, and the rest "minor actions needed". In respect to IAEA milestones, the country is at the first: "ready to make a knowledgeable commitment". During the 1980s many technical people were trained in anticipation of nuclear power development then, many of these are still available for the new project.

Uranium

There are some uranium resources in Kalimantan, and possibly West Papua. BATAN in September 2010 quoted 53,000 tonnes as high-cost resources: 29,000 t in West Kalimantan and 24,000 t in Bangka Belitung, including some associated with rare earths in monazite by-product from tin mining.

International agreements and non-proliferation

Indonesia's safeguards agreement with the IAEA under the NPT entered force in 1980 and the Additional Protocol entered force in 1999. In 1997 it signed the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and Radioactive Waste Management.

References:

BATAN 2012 summary of situation for IAEA
BATAN, Soft Launching of the Non Commercial Power Reactor (RDNK)/Experimental Power Reactor (RDE) (1 March 2015)
Rosatom, Russian-Indonesian consortium won the tender for the preliminary design of the research reactor in Indonesia [in Russia] (17 April 2015)

 


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