New Zealand paves the way for Indonesian geothermal power

The signing of a memorandum of understanding during Prime Minister John Key’s visit to Jakarta in April has begun to actualise for Geothermal New Zealand.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding during Prime Minister John Key’s visit to Jakarta in April has begun to actualise for Geothermal New Zealand.

On December 7 the Pertamina Learning Centre in Jakarta launched the Pertamina Corporate University, which will offer a Geothermal Master’s Degree programme run by Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the University of Auckland to employees of state-owned Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE).

Last week, senior PGE representatives visited New Zealand and president director Slamet Riadhy signed a joint study agreement with Geothermal New Zealand under which a number of its member companies will now begin work on a potential US$120 million power plant project in south Sumatra.

Said Dr Mike Allen, Geothermal New Zealand executive director, “We have world leading geothermal capabilities in New Zealand. The reinforcement of the educational links with Indonesia and the prospect of a major construction project demonstrate the benefits of the Geothermal New Zealand collaboration.”

Tim Anderson, New Zealand’s trade commissioner to Indonesia, added, “The agreements represent the growing relationship between the two countries in geothermal business, and reflect the regard in which Indonesian energy experts are looking to New Zealand for training and best practice.”

While Indonesia accounts for 40 percent of the world’s geothermal energy potential, less than 5 percent of its available geothermal resources are being tapped.  A key driving force for change is that Indonesia’s oil production has fallen by 600,000 barrels per day since 1996, and it will take 11,000MW of geothermal generation to help offset the impact of this loss on Indonesia’s domestic energy supply.

Meanwhile, some 25 percent of New Zealand’s annual electricity production is from geothermal resources and the country's geothermal energy history dates back more than 50 years, with the earliest installation at Wairakei in 1958 the first project in the world to exploit a wet geothermal resource.

Allen, who was also involved in the early 1980s on the management of the construction of Indonesia’s first geothermal plant at Kamojang, said the key for Pertamina is building a rapid but realistic strategy to reach its geothermal goals.

"We have resources in New Zealand that can be readily deployed to help. This alliance with PGE has substantial mutual benefits – we can take a wider range of our geothermal skills overseas and Pertamina can meet more of its ambitious goals for geothermal.”