The government is working on revisions to a ministerial regulation that will impose stricter emission rules on the country’s coal-fired power plants in a bid to curb air pollution.
The stricter emissions rule would affect power plant operators, and several industry players have filed objections because they would be required to spend significant amounts of money on air pollution control equipment. Because of arguments over the issue, the government needs more time for negotiation.
“We previously set a target to complete the revision in last December. However, we are still having some tough discussions with relevant stakeholders, as industry players say the new standards are too strict, while environmentalists say the opposite,” the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s air pollution control director Dasrul Chaniago told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
“Hopefully,we can all come to a concensus soon,”.
Environment and Forestry Ministerial Regulation No: 21/2008 on stationary sources of air pollutants, which is undergoing revision, currently sets relatively low emissions standards for coal-fired power plants. The lower the emissions standard, the less environmentally friendly it is.
RegulationNo.21/2008 sets different standards for old and new coal-fired power plants. Old plants that were already operational before the regulation issued on Dec.1, 2008, are allowed to emit a maximum of 750 milligrams per cubicmeter (mg/Nm3) of sulfur dioxide (SO2),850 mg/Nm3 of nitrogen oxide (N2O) and 150 mg/Nm3 of particulate matter.
The standards for new power plants are 750 mg/Nm3 for SO2 and. N2O, and 100 mg/ Nm3 for particulate matter.
In the upcoming revision, the Environment and Forestry Ministry plans to divide the emissions standards into three categories.
The first category, which will apply to old power plants operational before Dec. 1, 2008, sets a maximum level of 550 mg/ Nm3 for SO2 and N2O as well as 75 mg/ Nm3 for particulate matter.
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“Based on our assessment, about 80 percent of the country’s coal-fired power plants that were operational before December 2008 are already able to meet the standards in the first category. There are just several plants that need to add air pollution control devices to meet the standards,”Dasrul said.
The second category, which will apply to power plants that commence operations between Jan.1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2020, sets a maximum level of 400 mg/ Nm3 for SO2 , 300 mg/ Nm3 for N2O and 50 mg/ Nm3 for particulate matter.
In the third category, power plants that begin operating after Jan. 1, 2021,will only be allowed to emit a maximum of 100 mg/ Nm3 of both SO2 and N2O, as well as 30 mg/ Nm3 of particulate matter.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Private Electricity Plants Association (APLSI) chairman Ali Herman Ibrahim’ said it would be costly for investors to install new air pollution control devices to meet the planned standards. According to a study by environmental consultant Bruce Buckheit, the installment of air pollution control for Java-Bali grid could cost US$6billion.
PLN spokesperson I Made Suprateka also urged the government to provide leeway for coalfired power plants, which he said would still play a big role in Indonesia’s power generation in decades to come.
As of 2017, Indonesia operated various power· plants with a total capacity of 60,491 megawatts (MW), 57.22 percent of which were coal-fired facilities.
Through its electricity procurement business plan (RUPTL) for the 2017 – 2026 period, PLN has envisioned the development of new coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 31,900 MW.
“We feel there should· be some kind of relaxation for coal-fired power plants as we .still heavily rely on them. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to electrify all regions across the country, and electricity prices would certainly increase,” Made said.
Margaretha Quina, head of the pollution control division at the Jakarta-based Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), said the scope of the first emissions standards category in the upcoming policy was too broad, as ‘it would also apply to old power plants built in the 1980s.
“The government should just shut down. such. old coal-fired power plants instead of forcing them to install the air pollution control devices,” she said.