Examining The Option of Low Carbon Technology

Jakarta, 21 September 2021– Accelerating deep decarbonization in the energy sector is needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 or sooner as the Indonesian government has targeted. Different low-carbon technologies can be the option in decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, such as renewable energy, Carbon Capture, and Storage/Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), even Nuclear Power Plants (PLTN). However, the government needs to analyze it carefully because each technology has a different character and risk level.

In terms of global development, Mycle Schneider, an Independent International Analyst on Energy and Nuclear Policy, in his presentation said that the development of nuclear power plants has been stagnant in the last ten years, compared to renewable energy, which has increased rapidly. He gave an example that in France, the electricity mix from nuclear power reached the lowest record in 2020 for the last 30 years. The reason is that there is cheaper renewable energy.

“Investing in nuclear power plants can even hinder the achievement of climate change targets because existing funding should be allocated to technology options that are readily available, inexpensive, and can be implemented quickly,” explained Schneider on the second day of the Indonesia Energy Transition Dialogue (IETD) 2021 organized by Indonesia. Clean Energy Forum (ICEF) and Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Tuesday (21/09/2021).

Sharing the same views with Schneider, Craig Morris, Independent Consultant of Energy Transition, said that it is difficult to predict the price of electricity from nuclear power plants considering that nuclear power plants do not respond to market prices.

“If we go back to the year 2000 and see projection and hope of 2050, we are already in 2050 by having renewables and storage, and if you go with nuclear and CCS, you go back to 2000. We are far further with renewables than with the two technologies,” said Morris.

Moreover, CCS/CCUS technology is one of the global strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Samantha McCulloch, Head of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Technology, International Energy Agency said CCS/CCUS could be one of the solutions in Southeast Asia to improve energy infrastructure in the region. However, renewable energy will be the main choice for decarbonization shortly. Meanwhile, the development of CCS/CCUS will play a role in avoiding lock-in emission due to newly built infrastructure and enabling emission mitigation options in the future.

Another opportunity for CCUS in the ASEAN region is the production of low-carbon hydrogen from gas and CCUS. Currently, this option can be cheaper than producing hydrogen using electrolysis of water at a natural gas production site that can be used as storage carbon at the same time. However, the cost-effectiveness of this option needs to observe the potential for hydrogen production using electrolysis which is also expected to have significant price declines in the next few years.

Dr. M. Rachmat Sule, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), also sees that the development of CCUS can help reduce emissions, such as in coal power plants adjacent to oil and gas fields. Yet, there are limitations in its development, such as to be more economical, the source location of the emission and reservoir should be next to each other. Besides, it is necessary to implement other strategies such as hub clustering or use CCUS support infrastructure such as gas pipelines to reduce CAPEX costs.

However, on different occasions, Deon Arinaldo, Program Manager of Energy Transformation, IESR encouraged the government to prioritize renewable energy technology to carry out deep decarbonization in the energy sector.

“Decarbonizing the energy sector needs to happen quickly and start now to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. In Indonesia itself, low-carbon technology that is commercially ready and quickly built is renewable energy, while other technologies such as nuclear power plants and CCS are still in the development stages and piloting. We do not have much time to mitigate this climate crisis,” he said.

Responding to the variety of low-carbon technologies in the framework of new and renewable energy, Prof. Dr. Zaki Su’ud from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) recommends several policies that the government needs to take to support the achievement of Indonesia’s decarbonization target by 2060 or sooner. First, all energy resources must be utilized optimally to preserve energy quality and security in Indonesia. Second, the energy mix policy must be implemented and evaluated properly toward reliable, cheap, and sustainable energy availability. Third, The government needs to allocate sufficient research and funding for H&D related to new and renewable energy.

“New renewable energy is still developing and requires appropriate and consistent policies from the government to support national energy security and achieve Indonesia’s decarbonization target,” Zaki explained at the IETD 2021.

The IETD 2021 was held for five days, from September 20-24. This event is in collaboration with Clean, Affordable, and Secure Energy for Southeast Asia (CASE), a partnership project from several countries in Southeast Asia and is funded by the Federal Government of Germany. Further information can be accessed at ietd.info.

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