Jakarta. The first unit of the Sarulla geothermal power plant in Tapanuli, North Sumatera, owned by local listed energy company Medco Energi Internasional controlled by Arifin Panigoro, has started commercial operation, the company said in a statement on Wednesday (22/03).
The unit, which began to operate last week, will be followed by two more. Together they will be able to produce 330 megawatts of power.
"The second phase and third, each with the capacity of 110 megawatts, are scheduled to start commercial operation in 2017 and 2018," Medco Energi said in the statement.
With its total capacity, Sarulla will become the largest geothermal utility in Indonesia and the fifth largest power plant in the world, after the Geysers in the United States, Cerro Prieto in Mexico, Larderello in Italy and Olkaria in Kenya.
Sarulla is developed by Medco Power Indonesia — a joint venture between Medco Energi and Saratoga Power — which has a 19 percent interest in the project.
Japan's Itochu Corporation and Kyushu Electric Power have 25 percent each, while US-based Ormat Technologies has 12.75 percent.
Inpex Corporation, which in 2015 acquired minority shares in a Medco Power's subsidiary, has therefrom obtained a 18.25 percent interest in the project.
Sarulla has secured a contract to sell its electricity to state utility firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) over a period of 30 years.
Indonesia aims to become the world's second largest geothermal power producer this year and overtake the Philippines by reaching the capacity of 1,908 megawatts.
The US is the largest geothermal power producer, with the capacity of 3,450 megawatts — a large share of which comes from California Geysers' 1,517 megawatts. The Philippines comes second with 1,870 megawatts.
Indonesia has the largest geothermal power reserves in the world, with an estimated capacity of 28,994 megawatts.