The NYT has an article on Indonesian interest in geothermal energy - Indonesia Seeks to Tap Its Huge Geothermal Reserves.
The 17,500 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, perched perilously on the arc of seismic activity known as the Pacific Ring, are plagued by unpredictable and often deadly volcanic eruptions. But there is an upside to living with fire: vast reservoirs of underground water, heated by the earth’s core, can be harnessed to generate electricity.
Indonesia has more than 40 percent of the world’s geothermal reserves, enough to produce 28,100 megawatts over 30 years, equivalent to the power generated from burning 12 billion barrels of oil, according to revised figures released by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in March.
Geothermal energy could conceivably power a significant part of this sprawling country of more than 227 million people. Currently Indonesia is turning out less than 1,200 megawatts from six geothermal fields scattered across Java, North Sumatra and North Sulawesi — a negligible percentage of its potential, putting it behind both the United States and the Philippines. But Indonesian officials have ambitious goals for geothermal generation.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that by 2025 he would like geothermal generating capacity to rise to 9,500 megawatts, or about 5 percent of the country’s total requirements. And tapping into geothermal resources— a low-carbon, clean alternative to the oil and coal that dominate Indonesia’s energy consumption — could help him realize another stated objective: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 26 percent over the next decade.
To reach these goals, Indonesia will need an upsurge of foreign investment. In late April, Bali was the host of the 2010 World Geothermal Congress, which attracted technical experts, officials and investors from about 80 countries. “The Congress was a way of introducing Indonesia to the world and saying, ‘We’re open for business,”’ said Ted Saeger, energy and natural resources officer at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
The conference opened with the signing of 12 geothermal-related contracts worth about $5 billion, ushering in the second phase of a fast-track government program to develop Indonesia’s power industry. This phase, estimated to cost $12 billion and scheduled for completion in 2014, calls for an increase in geothermal generating capacity to nearly 4,000 megawatts.
A month after the congress, the U.S. commerce secretary, Gary Locke, led a trade mission to Indonesia of representatives from 10 clean technology companies looking for opportunities in geothermal development, particularly in the outer islands. Addressing an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Jakarta, Mr. Locke spoke about the prospects. “We cannot be so concerned about the initial cost,” he said. “Ultimately, the cost will go down, the technology will improve.
“The benefit to the planet, and to our health, and to the quality of life of today’s people and future generations, is so critical,” he added.