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Homeasia sustainabilityWith its abundant geothermal reserves, Indonesia aims to harvest more green energy

With its abundant geothermal reserves, Indonesia aims to harvest more green energy

KAMOJANG, West Java: Indonesia’s biggest geothermal company PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy, which is state-owned, is hoping to export clean energy to neighbouring countries as the region looks towards green alternatives and away from fossil fuels. Indonesia sits on the Ring of Fire, an area with some of the most active volcanoes in the world, resulting in an abundance of geothermal resources. The country has 40 per cent of the world’s potential geothermal resources, with an estimated 24 gigawatt of reserves ready to be cultivated. But currently, it is harnessing just 10 per cent of this energy potential.

As the push for renewables grows more urgent in the fight against climate change, observers say it must be full steam ahead for geothermal companies to harvest more green energy. 

Heat produced in the earth's core

Geothermal energy is the heat produced in the Earth’s core. The presence of hot rocks and fluids underground creates natural geothermal reservoirs. To extract the energy for human use, wells are created by deep drilling. The piping hot fluids are then drawn from the underground reservoirs through the wells to the earth’s surface. The hot liquid is then converted to steam, which drives turbines connected to a generator that produces electricity. At the surface, that energy is converted to steam which drives turbines connected to a generator that produces electricity. The cooled water is then pumped back into the earth to help sustain the underground reservoir.

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Indonesia is one of the top geothermal energy producers in the world, with more than 300 sites. On the slopes of Mount Guntur, an active stratovolcano in the West Java province, for instance, geothermal energy is harnessed from the Kamojang crater.  Geothermal exploration began in Kamojang in 1926, and the first geothermal well was drilled there during the Dutch colonial era. After nearly 100 years, the well is still emitting steam continuously at a high pressure today. The Kamojang geothermal power field, the first in Indonesia, is managed by Pertamina Geothermal Energy. “The advantage of a geothermal system is that it can operate 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Mr Hanifah Bagus Sulistyardi, operations manager at Pertamina Geothermal Energy (Kamojang).  “The energy supply is not intermittent, compared with solar. The solar energy power plant can only operate a certain number of hours per day, and it cannot operate at night.”

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