The Jakarta Post
The country's main island, Java, is facing a power deficit as electricity supply is down following disruptions at several big power plants and non-functioning hydropower plants on account of a lack of water during the dry season.
The electricity reserves margin for the Java-Bali power grid was currently minimal, said state-owned electricity firm PLN's acting corporate communication head, Bambang Dwiyanto. Moreover, the Java-Bali power grid was in a deficit of 1,000 megawatts (MW) on Thursday.
'There was a deficit because big power plants experienced disruptions. The situation improved on Friday and there were no blackouts. But we are running with very limited supply and the reserves margin has been used because of a lack of supply from the big power plants,' Bambang said on Friday.
Among the disrupted power plants were Paiton coal-fired power plant unit 7 and 8 with a combined capacity of 1,200 MW in East Java, coal-fired plant Indramayu 630 MW, coal-fired plant Suralaya 600 MW and coal-fired plant Pelabuhan Ratu 1,200 MW in West Java.
Cirata hydropower plant with 1,000 MW and Saguling power plant with 700 MW in capacity are also currently non-functioning on account of insufficient water supply to run the turbines.
Paiton Unit 8 was repaired while the coal-handling issue at the Suralaya facility was resolved on Friday, said Bambang. However, other power plants were still experiencing issues.
The Java-Bali power grid has around 30,000 MW in installed capacity. Out of the total, the net capacity is approximately 27,000 MW. Under normal conditions, reserves margin for the Java-Bali power grid usually stands at 3,000 MW, or less than 15 percent of the peak demand of over 23,900 MW. An ideal electricity reserves margin is set at 30 percent of the total peak demand.
The low reserves margin in the Java-Bali power grid has been a concern in recent years as disruptions are expected to negatively affect the areas, which host most of the country's economic activities.
While the margin remains low, efforts to develop new power supply have been hampered by issues surrounding land acquisition, delaying the development of several mega projects such as the 2,000 power plant in Batang, Central Java.
Apart from the Java-Bali power grid, the Sumatra power grid is also running below capacity. PLN Sumatra region business director Amir Rosidi said declining water volume had caused central Sumatra to lose around 600 MW as hydropower plant operations were disrupted.
Moreover, he continued, a number of power plants have been running below their capacity as thick smoke from forest fires had clogged their filters. The central and southern part of Sumatra lost around 150 MW in supply.
'We lost 750 MW in total for the central and southern part of Sumatra. Maintenance is expected to be complete early November. We also expect early maintenance completion at several plants, including Teluk Sirih. As for the hydropower plants, we just have to wait for the rain to fall,' Amir said.
The government is struggling to expedite a number of power plant projects under its ambitious 35,000 electricity development program.
PLN signed on Friday a power purchase agreement (PPA) with PT Sumber Segara Primadaya, which will develop the Cilacap coal-fired power plant. The 1,000 expansion project is estimated to cost around US$1 billion.
Construction works for the power plant are expected to commence after a financial close stage in October next year. Earlier last week, PLN also signed a PPA for the 1,000 MW Cirebon expansion power plant.
'Construction will take about 39 months. We expect to start commercial operations in the first quarter of 2020,' said Mohamad Rasul, president director of Sumber Segara Primadaya.
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