Jakarta. Indonesia is set to become the world's second largest geothermal power producer, overtaking the Philippines, with its capacity to generate geothermal electricity expected to increase by 385 megawatts next year.
Despite siting on the world's largest geothermal energy reserves, Indonesia today generates only 1,647 megawatts from geothermal wells, less than half of the United States' geothermal power output (3,450 megawatts) and still behind the Philippines (1,870 megawatts).
Yunus Saefulhak, director of geothermal energy at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said that by the end of this year Indonesia's geothermal power capacity will have increased by 130 megawatts, and by 255 megawatts next year.
"If everything goes to plan, our capacity will soon reach 1,908 megawatts, higher than the Philippines'," Yunus said.
"We will hopefully catch up with the US in 2021," he said, adding that the superpower is unlikely to expand its geothermal power capacity.
Next month, the Lahendong geothermal power plant in North Sulawesi will open a sixth unit that will increase its output by 20 megawatts.
The Sarulla geothermal power plant in North Tapanuli in North Sumatra, with a capacity of 255 megawatts, will also open next month.
The power plant is being developed by Medco Power Indonesia, Japan's Itochu Corporation and US-based Ormat Technologies.
Indonesia has a total of 28,994 megawatts in geothermal power reserves — the largest in the world — but conflicting laws, complicated pricing scheme and opposition from local communities have posed difficulties in harnessing them effectively.
A recent government decision to allow geothermal exploitation in conservation areas — a successful practice learnt from the Philippines — is likely to speed up the process and prove that conservation and power generation can go hand in hand.