The Banyumas regency administration will soon build a geothermal power plant in a conservation area on the slopes of Mount Slamet in Purbalingga, Central Java.
The head of the regency’s Energy and Mineral Resources Agency, Anton Adi Wahyono, said on Wednesday that PT Sejahtera Alam Energy (SAE), the winner of the project tender, would start initial exploration as early as this year.
The company would then proceed with the exploitation part of the project until the plant was ready to operate in 2017 with a production capacity of 110 megawatts (MW), he said.
“The plant will gradually increase its capacity in three stages. It is expected to reach its maximum production capacity of 220 MW by 2021,” Anton told a press conference on Wednesday, adding that the project would cost US$880 million.
The exploration part of the project, such as road construction, will occupy around 40 hectares of land.
“We’ve already secured a permit to use the 40 hectares of land from the Forestry Ministry in August. The ministry, however, is only lending us the land for two years,” he said. “[During that time] SAE will have to provide replacement land [to the ministry].”
The company furthermore will have to clear another 130 hectares of land for the exploitation part of the project, according to Anton.
The plan to build the plant, located near the Baturadden tourist site on the southern slope of the mountain, has been met with protests from prominent local figures.
Tekad Santoso, the manager of the tourist site, voiced his concern that the project could pose harm to nearby residents.
“The plant will be located within the area of Mt. Slamet, the biggest volcano in the province, which is still active,” he said, urging that the project be relocated to a safer area. “We’re extremely worried that a case similar to the Lapindo mudflow disaster could occur.”
The 3,428-meter Mt. Slamet was put on the third- and second-highest alert status from 2010 to 2011, during which time the mountain was closed to climbers.
The mountain was relegated to normal status in late 2011 by the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG). (han/swd)