Several ASEAN Member States (AMS) have initiated to introduce nuclear power to their energy portfolios to address their concern about future energy security and to reach carbon emission targets. To date, there are no operating nuclear power plants in the region. However, some AMS are in the progress of building their capacity and knowledge in their preparation to embark on nuclear power in the future. Indonesia, as the most populated country in the region has already considered nuclear energy since the late 1950s, with the establishment of the Atomic Energy Council and the Atomic Energy Institution. Indonesia has implemented nuclear for non-power application since 1960s for medical application, agriculture, and conducted research on other nuclear applications.
In November 2009, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accomplished the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission in Indonesia. The objective of this evaluation was to identify the status of nuclear infrastructure development in Indonesia, in order to support the construction. The evaluation measured the readiness of Indonesia in launching such programme and the results showed that Indonesia has done extensive preparatory work on most infrastructure issues that would allow the country to make further consideration to introduce nuclear power and move forward. As indicated in the IAEA report, there are some sites that have been identified as potential nuclear power plant locations in Indonesia, namely Muara Peninsula, Banten, East Kalimantan, Bangka Island, West Kalimantan and Batam Island. According to National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN)’s annual nation-wide survey, public acceptance towards nuclear power in Indonesia was gradually increasing from 2012 to 2016, even though the public gave negative perception to nuclear in 2011 due to Fukushima nuclear accident. As stated in the last survey, the acceptance reached a considerably high point in 2016 at 77.5% and it is expected that positive public opinion will convince the government to be more confident in making nuclear decisions.
According to the Presidential Decree No. 22 Year 2017 regarding General National Energy Planning (RUEN), nuclear is mentioned as the last option to meet Indonesia’s future energy needs. The nuclear energy will be put as an option if the 23% renewable energy target is not achieved after 2025. However, the president emphasised that the nuclear roadmap should be established for the development of nuclear option. As an action plan and implementation of the roadmap, Indonesia is in the progress of constructing the Experimental Power Reactor (EPR). The EPR will be located in Serpong with a capacity of 10 MWth using High-Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) technology. The objective of the EPR development is to build a small-size nuclear reactor which can be used as a tool to simulate the management, operation and maintenance of a real-size nuclear power plant, so the human resources could master the required knowledge and skills. The EPR shall also be used as a means to demonstrate that the nuclear technology is safe, environmentally friendly and economical as an electricity generator.
Indonesia has done extensive works in preparing the nuclear power infrastructure, especially human resource, to face its nuclear era in the future. It also establishes cooperation with mature-nuclear countries such as China, Japan, Russia and the US to keep itself updated with the technology development and capacity building activities in nuclear energy. However, the most important aspect is to convince the policymakers to make the “go nuclear” decision. As a final note, it is presumed that the region will not see a single nuclear power plant operated before 2030. (Featured photo credit: 5-minute-nuclear.com).