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Rajabasa geothermal project starts construction phase

Bandarlampung, Ekuatorial – After rejected by local villagers, geothermal power plant in Mount Rajabasa, South Lampung, has begun construction in early December, said Franky Tungka, Site Support Manager of PT Supreme Energy, a company focus on geothermal energy mostly working Sumatra island, recently.

The first construction, Tungka said, was to built a dock which would served as the construction’s transportation track. “We are the only energy company that built a dock to be used as the construction’s transportation track,” he said citing that they had intended for the construction via sea so it will not disrupt local villages and damage biodiversity.

In addition, he said that Rajabasa geothermal project will be using sea water instead of groundwater. “We don’t use groundwater because of low water surcharge in Mount Rajabasa. If we use it, villagers would use their water sources,” he said.

In 2013, local villagers have rejected the project fearing that it will damage the environment and destroy local culture represented by Mount Rajabasa. However, Ministry of Environment and Forestry gave green light for PT Supreme Energy by issuing the loan use forest area permit, known as Izin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan for 15 hectares, in April 2014.

Rajabasa geothermal power plant is targeted to solve Lampung electricity crisis for the past three years. The province listed as second highest for its energy consumption in Sumatra island with 809 Mega Watt (MW). However, they can only produce 543 MW and 266 MW from South Sumatra to meet the demand.

Meanwhile, Lampung province has a huge geothermal potential reach up to 750 MW, one of them is Ulubelu mountains, Tanggamus district for 110 MW.

For its initial phase, PT Supreme Energy is planning to built four drilling turbine wells and steam power plant with 220 MW. Meanwhile, exploration phase is scheduled in 2019.

Furthermore, Tungka said that despite of being an eco-friendly project, the exploration might still produce waste, for example domestic waste, liquid waste, solid waste, and even hot water. “We already conduct a survey that the waste produced from the geothermal is not hazardous for the forest,” he added.

Chairil Anwar, head of Mount Rajabasa Protected Forest Management, said the company was required to provide double as replacement lands. “Though, it [the company] had used only 15 hectares, but permit issued was 50 hectares. So, the company is obliged to give 100 hectares of areas in Lampung as replacement,” said Anwar.

However, he said the company has yet to replace the areas. He demanded that the company would immediately provide the replacement land in accordance to the law.

He added that he had hoped the company was able to encourage local people to preserve the forest as geothermal was depending on its sustainability. “It [geothermal] can only continue if the nature is in good condition. But if people destroying environment, it’s possible that this alternative energy will only be temporary,” he said citing that nearly 2,000 hectares of Mount Rajabasa was damaged. Eni Muslihah.

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