Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir holds up an 'Indonesia 106 Innovation' book during a media visit to the BeritaSatu Media Holdings office in Jakarta on Jan. 6, 2015. (SP Photo/Ruht Semiono)

Research and Tech Minister Says Nuclear Is the Way of the Future for Indonesia


JANUARY 07, 2015

Jakarta. Muhammad Nasir, the research and technology minister, says construction is ongoing for an experimental nuclear power reactor on the outskirts of Jakarta, to pave the way for Indonesia’s first nuclear power plant.

Nasir said the experimental reactor in Serpong, Tangerang, was aimed partly to show the public that nuclear power was safe.

He said fear and resistance against nuclear power in Indonesia had lingered because the public had only little knowledge of the technology, and that it was limited to the nuclear disasters in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and Fukushima, Japan.

“Why have we always made a big deal out of nuclear power? It’s because we haven’t seen for ourselves [how it works], so we’re not convinced,” Nasir said during a visit to the Jakarta Globe newsroom on Tuesday. “That is why we’re currently trying to build a nuclear energy laboratory in Serpong. We need to educate and explain to the children of the nation that nuclear is safe.”

The minister said Indonesia needed nuclear power to generate electricity, saying it was a cheaper and cleaner energy alternative to coal, from which Indonesia currently gets most of its electricity.

Fears of safety issues should not hamper the country’s nuclear program, as other countries have long developed their nuclear energy sectors without incident.

“China is our biggest coal importer. Their [energy] consumption is very high, and now they’re considering shifting more to nuclear energy. China currently has 14 [nuclear] power plants and are building 25 others,” Nasir said.

“Vietnam is building two, America has 100. Indonesia? Zero.”

He added fears concerning earthquakes that often hit the archipelago should not stop the country from developing nuclear power.

Nasir said the southeastern coasts of Sumatra, parts of Kalimantan and northern Java were among areas in the country relatively safe from seismic activity, and thus ideal locations for future nuclear power plants.

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