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A Brief Review on the Challenges of Nuclear Technology Application in Indonesia

by Fauzan Cakra Dermawan | 20-08-2018 04:20 recommendations 0 recommendations

The development of nuclear energy utilization in Indonesia has become one of the options to face the growing demand of electricity from various sectors which have received an average increase for about 7% per year[1] which has been mainly supplied from fossil energy which is increasingly depleting in its availability. Meanwhile, the Preparatory Commission for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plants (Komisi Persiapan Pembangunan-Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Nuklir/KP2-PLTN) has actually been established since 1972, but the monetary crisis followed by the political crisis caused deterioration in all industrial sectors (including a decrease in electricity consumption in 1997). Now, twenty-one years have passed since the crisis, Indonesia has finally re-launched the construction of its Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) in several regions - such as in Jepara, Banten (Panjang Island and Bojonegara) and Bangka Belitung Island (Tanjung Berdaun and Tanjung Berani) - which are targeted to be completed in the middle 2018 to 2025.


Nuclear resources have several advantages over Coal, the ratio is 1 Kg of Uranium equivalent to 3,000 tons of Coal.[2] Although it must be admitted that there is not a single technology that is one hundred percent safe-guaranteed, the utilization of nuclear resources managed by the National Nuclear Energy Agency (Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional/BATAN) has been implementing the operational standards carried out in a prime and absolute manner (as used in the Deutsche Industrie Norm (DIN) and The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Standards)[3] believed to be able to minimize the unwanted events. The possibility that occured by the utilization of nuclear resources affects public acceptance and so it becomes the barrier towards the construction of NPPs in Indonesia, especially after the destruction of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant's cooling system caused by Tsunami back in 2011 were highlighted by the public.


On the other hand, nuclear energy has played a vital role in supplying electricity in various countries, with no less than 449 NPPs operating in 31 countries and supplying 17% of electricity worldwide.[4] During 1990 to 2004 period, the statistics of energy consumption in Indonesia shows that the average growth of energy consumption was 6.4% and is expected to triple in 2030[5] (this data is still relevant to the data obtained from the Central Statistics Agency Annual Book back in 2016 where electricity consumption a year before was 53,979.19 Kilowatt (KW) as the Installed Capacity, then 247,714.76 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) as Electricity Generated and 213 851.84 GWh as Distributed Electricity)[6]. Various studies have shown that the level of electricity consumption per capita is one of the good indicators of Human Development Index (HDI) and Economic Growth (EG) of a country.[7] As stated in the Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 5 of 2006, it has been stipulated that to meet the demand of electricity until 2025, the contribution of all renewable energy resources is needed for amount of:[8] Biofuel ˃ 5%, Geothermal ˃ 5%, Nuclear, Solar, Wind and Biomass ˃ 5% and also Liquefied Coal ˃ 2%.


However, this is where the challenges begins. Generally speaking, NPP can be classified as investments with high capital and low annual costs (for its fuels, operations and maintenance) while Steam-Electric Power Stations (SEPS) that have been the mainstay are the opposite. The difference also lies in the constructions time span, which is 5 to 6 years for SEPS and 7 to 10 years for NPP (this is what makes the cost of NPP more sensitive to changes in reactor design and technology, changes in safety standards, prices of raw materials for the reactor and the interest rates loans from used capital).[9]


If other technologies price will be cheaper in line with the frequency of use and the advancement of its technology, it does not happen to nuclear. For example, it can be seen in the cases from The United States and France, the price per KW installed was actually increased to four and five times higher over the last 25 years. The estimated construction price of NPPs is currently around US$ 3,200-4,500 per KW[10], compared to the construction price of Wind Power Plants (WPP) which is in the range of US$ 1,400-1,800 per KW [11]. At the planning stage, the construction costs are usually made very cheap. However, there will be a two to threefold increase after the development agreement is made and a construction plan is established.[12]


In addition to its expensive development costs, the perception of operational costs of NPPs that are cheaper than the conventional power plants is also not entirely accurate. In various countries, for the past 10 years the managing company of NPPs has faced significant increases in operational costs that cannot even be covered by electricity tariffs. According to the French Court of Account (Cour des Comptes) report in 2014, the operational costs of Electricite de France, a French electricity company that manages all nuclear power plants there, rose from US$ 67,8 per Megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2010 to US$ 81,7 per MWh in 2013, or increased by 21%. Another example, one of the NPPs operator in Canada, Ontario Power Generation, in its document regarding the request for approval of nuclear fuel costs to the regulator, showed an increase for about 20% to its fuel costs in the period of 2010 to 2015.[13]


There was other challenges besides the construction and the operation costs of NPPs as discussed in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Yearbook in 2012, namely the decommissioning costs of NPPs in the future. In January 2012, a total of 138 NPPs were decommissioned in 19 countries, but only 17 units were successfully decommissioned safely at that time.[14] Meanwhile, the costs to decommission the NPP depends on the type, size, condition and location of the reactor and its proximity to the nuclear waste disposal facility.[15] In The United States, the average cost to decommision NPPs reached 10 to 15% of the initial capital. While in France, in the case of Brennilis reactor, the cost reached 60% of the establishment cost. These costs are also expected to continue to increase in the future.[16]


On an occasion, H.E. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP, said: "how will the world feed and fuel itself while combating climate change and handling hazardous wastes."[17], in this context, it also includes the nuclear waste. A 1,000 MWe NPP requires about 1 metric ton of fuel and its produces 70 liters of waste per day.[18] In 1980s, The United States produced 36 million tons of waste with low radiation and 8,300 tons of waste with high radiation.[19] But what has been a great concern is with the increasing utilization of NPPs to produce electricity, the need for a sustainable permanent storage method is urgently needed (in addition to storage methods in salt mines, granite layers, under layers of ground water and on the seabed). An absolute requirement that must be fulfilled by these locations is its guaranteed geological stability in the future.[20] Meanwhile at the same time, it's been known that some Indonesia regions won't be one hundred percent guaranteed free from earthquake in the future.


This article is the part of my essay presented at the last Webinar of the Energy Commission of Overseas Indonesian Students' Association Alliance for 2017 to 2018 period under the theme: "The Future of Nuclear Energy: its Facts and Applied Technology". The Essay entitled: "Nuclear and Energy: A Review on Challenges of Nuclear Technology Application, Legal Framework of the Development and Prospects of Thorium for the Nation." The Webinar can be seen at the following link:

- OISAA/PPI TV Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNJLhD1qAr0
- My Personal Youtube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2aFTcIIvcw



[1] Anonymous, Rencana Pembangunan PLTN di Indonesia, Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional, available on: http://www.batan.go.id/index.php/id/infonuklir/nuklir-indonesia-infonuklir/program-pltn/1810-rencana-pembangunan-pltn-di-indonesia, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:17 Indonesian Central Time (ICT), accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[2] Anonymous, 2011, Memahami Pembangkit Listrik Nuklir Korea, Kompas.com, available on: https://internasional.kompas.com/read/2011/03/21/03243127/Memahami.Pembangkit.Listrik.Nuklir.Korea, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:21 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[3] Publisher Team, 2012, Perka-BATAN Nomor 184/KA/IX/2012 Tentang Program Kesiapsiagaan Nuklir Kawasan Nuklir Serpong BATAN, Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional, available on: http://www.batan.go.id/peraturan/download/178571023Perka_Kesiapsiagaan_Nuklir.pdf, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:15 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[4] Anonymous, Semua Yang Perlu Kamu Ketahui Tentang Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Nuklir, Sepulsa Teknologi Indonesia, available on: https://www.sepulsa.com/blog/pembangkit-listrik-tenaga-nuklir, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:26 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[5] Publisher Team, 2008, Perspektif Baru Pembangunan untuk Menanggulangi Krisis Pangan dan Energi, Institut Pertanian Bogor, available on: http://repository.ipb.ac.id/jspui/bitstream/123456789/6594/1/Perspektif%20Baru%20IPB.pdf, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:46 ICT, page 18, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[6] Publisher Team, 2016, Statistik Indonesia 2016 (Statistical Yearbook of Indonesia 2016), Badan Pusat Statistik, available on: https://media.neliti.com/media/publications/48410-ID-statistik-indonesia-2016.pdf, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:49 ICT, page 287, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[7] Lincoln Arsyad, 2014, Konsep dan Pengukuran Pembangunan Ekonomi, Universitas Terbuka, available on: http://repository.ut.ac.id/3950/1/ESPA4229-M1.pdf. Accessed on March 15 2018, 20:46 ICT, page 34, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[8] Anonymous, Rencana Pembangunan PLTN di Indonesia, Badan Tenaga Nuklir Nasional, available on: http://www.batan.go.id/index.php/id/infonuklir/nuklir-indonesia-infonuklir/program-pltn/1810-rencana-pembangunan-pltn-di-indonesia, accessed on March 15, 2018, 20:17 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[9] Fortuza Pake, 2015, PLTN (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Nuklir) vs PLTU (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Uap Batubara) Untuk Energi pembangkit Listrik Di Masa Mendatang, Kompasiana, available on: https://www.kompasiana.com/www.fortuspake.com/pltn-pembangkit-listrik-tenaga-nuklir-vs-pltu-pembangkit-listrik-tenaga-uap-batubara-untuk-energi-pembangikt-listrik-di-masa-mendatang_550b15eba333119d712e3d3e, accessed on March 15, 2018, 21:09 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[10] Arwindra Rizqiawan, 2010, Pilih Mana: Energi Nuklir atau Energi Terbarukan, Blog Laboratorium Penelitian Konversi Energi Elektrik ITB, available on: https://konversi.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/pilih-mana-energi-nuklir-atau-energi-terbarukan/, accessed on March 15, 2018, 21:13 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[11] Ibid..

[12] Fabby Tumiwa, 2015, Nuklir Serpong (1), Geotimes, available on: https://geotimes.co.id/tokoh/kolom-jokowi/nuklir-serpong-1/, accessed on March 15, 2018, 21:29 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[13] Ibid..

[14] Anonymous, 2012, Inilah Isu-isu Lingkungan Terpenting Abad 21, Hijauku, available on: http://www.hijauku.com/2012/02/18/inilah-isu-isu-lingkungan-terpenting-abad-21/, accessed on March 15, 2018, 21:37 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[15] Ibid..

[16] Ibid..

[17] Ibid..

[18] Fortuza Pake, 2015, PLTN (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Nuklir) vs PLTU (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Uap Batubara) Untuk Energi pembangkit Listrik Di Masa Mendatang, Kompasiana, available on: https://www.kompasiana.com/www.fortuspake.com/pltn-pembangkit-listrik-tenaga-nuklir-vs-pltu-pembangkit-listrik-tenaga-uap-batubara-untuk-energi-pembangikt-listrik-di-masa-mendatang_550b15eba333119d712e3d3e, accessed on March 15, 2018, 21:09 ICT, accessed in Bahasa Indonesia.

[19] Ibid..

[20] Ibid..

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Fauzan CakraDermawan

  • Indonesia Youth Fauzan Cakra Dermawan

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