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Indonesians fight back against South Korean-funded coal plants

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ENVIRONMENTAL activists in Indonesia have called on South Korean funders to withdraw their support for new coal-fired plants that they warn will be the most polluting in the Southeast Asian country.

The Suralaya power complex, about 100 kilometers west of the capital, Jakarta, already has eight coal-fired plants in operation, churning out 3,400 megawatts, or 18 percent of the electricity for the islands of Java and Bali.

The government plans to add two more plants, with a generating capacity of 1,000 MW each, as part of the infrastructure-centered economic development policy being pushed by the administration of President Joko Widodo.

Funding for the new plants, billed at US$1.67 billion, will come from loans from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM), the Korea Development Bank (KDB Bank) and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure).

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Greenpeace Indonesia energy campaigner Didit Haryo said the group had sent an open letter appealing to the South Korean institutions to “immediately withdraw” their funding for the project.

“The impact of the new plants is too big and is very bad for their investments,” he said. “We’re urging them to think about investing their money in renewable energy projects instead.”

Greenpeace Indonesia also sent the letter to the South Korean Embassy in Jakarta; none of the recipients had responded as of Nov 9, Didit said.

Suralaya coal power plants. Source: Satari/Wikimedia.

Pollution problem

The project’s South Korean connection comes from the consortium picked to build the new plant, comprising Indonesian state-owned contractor PT Hutama Karya and its South Korean partner, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction.

The Suralaya complex is run by PT Indo Raya Tenaga, also known as Indonesia Power, one of the country’s few independent electricity producers. Indonesia Power and the contracting consortium signed the agreement for the expansion project on Sept. 10 in Seoul.

The complex is already the single-biggest electricity generator in Indonesia, burning through 35,000 tons of coal a day, and was built primarily to serve the steel mills and heavy industries nearby.

Because of its sheer output, Suralaya emits more nitrous oxides, or NOx, than any other power facility in Southeast Asia, according to........

© Asian Correspondent