Indonesia's First Experimental Nuclear Reactor Held Up by Budgeting Issues


OCTOBER 11, 2016

Jakarta. The construction of Indonesia's first experimental nuclear power reactor has been delayed over budgeting issues, including an estimation of the approximate cost and a financing plan.

The noncommercial nuclear reactor – which will use high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology and have a capacity of 10 megawatts – will be built inside the Center for Science and Technology Research (Puspitek) complex at Serpong in South Tangerang, Banten.

National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) head Djarot Wisnubroto said the budget is still being discussed to more accurately estimate the cost.

The first budget draft was returned by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) – the body that has the authority to examine mid-term national development projects – as it required more detail on the cost estimation and financing plan.

"Bappenas wants more detail to decide whether the project will be funded from the state budget or by soft loans from other countries. If we use soft loans, we need to propose a blue book to those countries that might be interested," Djarot said on the sidelines of a media workshop at the Russian Center of Science and Culture in Jakarta on Tuesday (11/10).

He expressed hope that the final budget draft will be completed by the end of this year, as several companies have shown an interest in funding the project, including the Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom and its Chinese competitor.

Djarot said the conceptual design of the nuclear reactor has been prepared with between Rp 1.7 trillion and Rp 2 trillion ($130 million-$150 million) in funding.

South Tangerang Environment Agency head Rahmat Salam Arifin Hasan said most residents of Serpong have agreed on the establishment of the nuclear reactor in the area, after the local administration prioritized efforts to disseminate information and knowledge on renewable energy.

However, Batan said it has not yet complied with all the requirements to be allowed to proceed with construction of the reactor. He added that it would be resolved this year at the latest.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has taken a stance that nuclear power would be the last option for the country to meet its energy demands. However, he has also shown support for Batan to start experimental projects and for the country to develop the required skills.