Indonesia slashes coal power plant output ahead of ASEAN summit
Indonesia is cutting its output of one of its major coal-powered power plants in a bid to reduce pollution ahead of the ASEA summit.
Indonesia took the decision to significantly reduce the output of a major coal-powered power plant in a bid to address the severe pollution crisis affecting the nation's capital, Jakarta.
The move comes just ahead of crucial summits involving leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as officials from the United States, Japan, China, and South Korea.
Jakarta, home to approximately 30 million people, has been grappling with alarming pollution levels in recent weeks, leading to a series of public health concerns.
Swiss-based air quality monitor IQAir reported that Jakarta had frequently topped global pollution rankings in the past month, raising concerns that the pollution crisis could overshadow the diplomatic meetings scheduled for the coming weeks.
Irwan Edi Syahputra Lubis, the General Manager of the Suralaya coal-fired power plant's operator, PLN IP (Indonesia Power), announced that they had reduced the plant's production by a significant 1,600 megawatts since August 29th.
The massive reduction is aimed at improving Jakarta's air quality. The power plant, located approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) from central Jakarta on the western tip of Java, will now operate at a reduced capacity of 1,800 megawatts.
It remains uncertain whether this power cut is a temporary measure or a permanent shift, as it depends on directives from the Indonesian government. Indonesia, in its commitment to environmental sustainability, has pledged to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants starting in 2023; it aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
However, despite growing concerns voiced by environmental activists, the Suralaya coal plant on Java Island is still undergoing expansion, with plans to add 10 new units within the plant's complex.
In response to mounting public criticism over deteriorating air quality, Indonesia has taken other measures, including sanctioning 11 industrial firms for failing to meet operational standards and mandating that half of its civil servants work from home.
While initially attributing the spike in pollution to weather patterns and vehicle emissions, some government ministers have more recently acknowledged the role of coal-fired power plants and factories in the Jakarta area in contributing to the pollution crisis.
Indonesia's decision comes just a day after a contrasting one taken across the pond in Australia, wherein the country's largest coal-fired was given a lifeline on Tuesday when a state administration announced it would look into the potential of keeping it operational until its scheduled shutdown in 2025.
New South Wales, the state with the most residents in Australia, receives about 25% of its energy from the Eraring Power Station, located north of Sydney.
For the sake of achieving emissions goals and accelerating the switch to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, the facility was scheduled for closure in August 2025.
However, a recent policy evaluation discovered that certain aspects of the state's energy transition plan were facing "multiple headwinds" and "the likelihood of success is low."
Since the closure of Liddell, another coal-powered station, in April, the evaluation noted an increase in the average wholesale energy price.
Energy minister for New South Wales Penny Sharpe announced that the center-left administration had accepted the recommendation and will start discussions with Origin Energy, who owns Eraring.
Australia has committed to having no emissions at all by 2050.
According to World Bank data, it produces 15.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, which is more than the US.
Four coal-powered plants that will close in the next 10 to 15 years supply almost 70% of the electricity delivered in New South Wales.
Australia is currently the greatest exporter of metallurgical coal, which is used in the production of steel, and the second-largest exporter of thermal coal in the world, behind Indonesia.