Another nail in the coffin for Nuclear plans in Indonesia

Feature story - July 10, 2009
Greenpeace welcomes the weekend decision of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, (NU), that nuclear power is haram (forbidden) on the island of Madura, East Java. The NU was responding to plans by BATAN, Indonesia’s nuclear energy agency, to build a nuclear power plant on the island.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia CLimate and Energy campainer Nur Hidayati explains to journalists the dangers of nuclear energy during a protest held by GPSEA Indonesian activists protest the false and dangerous solutions discussed at the "Indonuclear 2007" conference held at the Sultan Hotel in central Jakarta, Indonesia on April 2, 2007.

The announcement in Madura, close to Indonesia's second largest city of Surabaya, follows a similar decision by the Jepara, Central Java, chapter of NU on 1 September 2007, when scholars and clerics concluded that the threat to the local communities from potential radioactive leaks and radioactive waste handling far outweighed any potential benefits.

"The NU decision in Madura is another nail in the coffin for the nuclear industry's plans to establish a foothold in Indonesia," said Tessa de Ryck, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Regional Nuclear campaigner. "Greenpeace calls on the successful Presidential candidate to heed the NU's resolution and stop wasting money on marketing a dangerous, costly, unfeasible technology, and instead invest in real energy solutions like geothermal, wind, micro-hydro and solar power."

Worldwide, the nuclear industry is failing and still struggles with the same problems as it did forty years ago. Very few of the 435 operational nuclear power plants around the globe have been built within budget and on schedule. No new reactors were built at all in 2008, compared to 27 megawatts of wind energy that came online the same year. At an election rally in April, President Yudhoyono said that he was opposed to building a nuclear reactor as long as there are better alternatives. In June Indonesia's state energy utility, PLN, said that it didn't see nuclear power being part of Indonesia's future energy mix.

Indonesia has the world's largest stores of untapped geothermal energy and there are plans to supply 5 gigawatts of energy from this source by 2014. Greenpeace urges the Government to increase targets for renewable energy, notably geothermal, wind, solar PV and micro-hydro as well as improving the laws and regulations, which have been the biggest impediments to investment in renewable energy. There are still many obstacles to the development of renewable energy in Indonesia, which continue to favour the expansion of dirty fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear energy over the clean, sustainable and abundant alternatives.

Indonesia currently harnesses less than 5% of its renewable energy potential. Greenpeace stresses the need for strong government leadership to quickly enact legislation, which would enable the massive uptake of the nation's abundant renewable energy resources. Indonesia should follow the good example set by its Southeast Asia neighbours, The Philippines, whose Government enacted the Renewable Energy (RE) Law at the end of 2008 to move the country towards a clean energy future, which will bring economic benefits whilst cutting the country's carbon emissions.

"Funding diverted away from nuclear and fossil fuels into geothermal, wind and solar would not only be a much smarter choice in order to achieve the emission cuts needed to avoid even more dangerous climate change, it is also the only smart economic choice. The fatwa issued this weekend by the Ulamas in East Java should serve as a strong signal to the country's leaders," concluded de Ryck.

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