Surveys find growing support for nuclear plant development

Source : Jakarta Post

Date : 16 December 2014

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Bangka Belitung 57% 51% 28% 35%
Java, Madura, Bali 74% 64% 51% 42% 57%
Nationwide 72% 60% 53% 50%

A series of surveys shows that Indonesians are increasingly supportive of the development of nuclear power plants in the country to meet rising electricity demand.

The National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan), through a selected third-party survey firm, says support for the plants is increasing, after completing five surveys conducted annually from 2010 to 2014.

Based on a survey in 2010, support in Java, Madura and Bali was only 59.7 percent from a total 1,000 respondents. In 2014, the support rose to 74 percent.

Since 2011, the surveys widened their coverage to the national level, with a total of 3,000 respondents.

The surveys also specifically assessed views from 1,000 people residing in the Bangka Belitung area, where the development of a nuclear power plant is planned. Thus, the surveys covered a total of 5,000 respondents.

Figures showed that support across the county also increased from 2011, when support was at 49.5 percent, to 2014, when a level of 72 percent was reached.

The Bangka Belitung area also showed a similar trend, with growing acceptance of the idea of nuclear power plant development from 35 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2014.

Declining support was only found in 2011, particularly due to natural disasters that disabled the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan, according to Hari Ambali, a researcher from PT Media Cipta Pesona, which worked on the 2014 survey.

“From respondents’ views, most say nuclear power plant development is necessary because there is a growing need for energy. It means that fears of an electricity crisis have driven people to approve of nuclear plants,” Hari said.

Meanwhile, he added, some respondents rejected the development of nuclear power plants due to safety issues.

Due to its growing economy, the country has also seen a growing demand for electricity by around 7 percent per year.

It is estimated that Indonesia will need to add 5,700 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year until 2022 to support its economic growth.

However, the development of new power plants have frequently been hampered by various issues, particularly land acquisitions.

A 2,000 MW project in Batang regency, Central Java, is currently stalled as plots of land remain uncleared due to protests from local residents.

Given slow supply growth while demand keeps increasing, the Java and Bali areas are predicted to enter an electricity crisis in 2016.

The country has 51,981 MW in electricity installed capacity with an electrification ratio of 81.98 percent.

As many as 52 percent of the total capacity is generated by coal, 24 percent by gas and almost 12 percent by oil fuel.

Under the national energy policy stated in government regulation no. 79/2014, nuclear energy is determined as the last option for energy supply.

However, this does not mean that the development of nuclear power plants can only be followed after the country runs out of energy resources, according to Batan head Djarot Sulistio Wisnubroto.

“Surveys show there is growing support and we hope this objective result will drive the government to accelerate the development of nuclear power plants,” Djarot said.

“The problem of nuclear development is the projects will take years, beyond the period of a government. Therefore, those in power are doubting carrying out these projects. However, as we have limited energy resources, we must decide [to develop such plants],” Djarot said.

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