Australian minerals resource tax; Law, finance, and community in Indonesia; New Zealand’s reliable resource; North Korean volcano; The Philippines’ renewables mix

This week in Asia-Pacific geothermal markets, Australian legislation includes geothermal energy provisions. In Indonesia, the nation looks at legal and financial needs, while a geothermal company with a site near Mount Rajabasa in South Lampung is working on concerns with local groups. In New Zealand, Mighty River Power’s proportion of generation from geothermal rose to 43% with the commissioning of the 82-MW Ngatamariki geothermal power station. A volcano wakes on the border between North Korea and China. In the Philippines, geothermal accounted for 22% of the 2011 renewables mix.

Australia: Draft Legislation Repeals Minerals Resource Rent Tax
Indonesia: Nation Looks at Legal, Financial, and Community Developments
New Zealand: Geothermal a Steady Source
North Korea: On the Border with China, a Volcano Wakes
The Philippines: Geothermal Accounted for 22% of 2011 Renewables Mix

This week in Asia-Pacific geothermal markets, Australian legislation includes geothermal energy provisions. In Indonesia, the nation looks at legal and financial needs, while a geothermal company with a site near Mount Rajabasa in South Lampung is working on concerns with local groups. New Zealand has a strong geothermal market; company Mighty River Power’s proportion of generation from geothermal rose to 43% with the commissioning of the 82-MW Ngatamariki geothermal power station. A volcano wakes on the border between North Korea and China. In the Philippines, geothermal accounted for 22% of the 2011 renewables mix.

Draft legislation in Australia would repeal a minerals resource rent tax that includes geothermal energy provisions. Treasurer and Parliament Member for North Sydney Joe Hockey, who released the draft, was quoted on Smh.com.au: “This failed tax imposed significant compliance costs on one of our most important industries, while damaging business confidence which is critical to future investment and jobs.”

“The Indonesian government is getting closer to issuing a new law that will make it easier for investors to tap the country’s huge geothermal energy potential,” notes Indonesia-investments.com. Geothermal activities are currently regulated as ‘mining activities,’ but the proposed bill would separate the definition, paving the way for potential development in Indonesia’s protected areas where large amounts of its geothermal potential are located. The bill would also obligate geothermal concession holders to “sell a 10 percent interest to regionally owned enterprises or state-owned enterprises after it enters the exploitation stage,” ensuring local participation and benefit in development activities.

An Op-Ed on The Jakarta Post points out Indonesian geothermal market needs. “In reducing risk of exploration, the government might develop further its concept of exploration by adding the scope and amount of the funds,” senior energy planner with National Development Planning Agency Hanan Nugroho writes. “In addition, a long term financing facility might be developed by the government through special geothermal development funds, taking the unique characteristic of geothermal development compared to fossil fuel electricity plants that use oil, natural, or coal.”

Also this week, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan reaffirmed the need to communicate with local groups in planning a geothermal power plant near Mount Rajabasa in South Lampung regency (Thejakartapost.com). In June of this year, we wrote in GEA news (Geo-energy.org, PDF):

A geothermal power project in Lampung by PT Supreme Energy has been suspended until January of next year, after protests from residents on the slopes of Mt. Rajabasa. Villagers in Jeti village said the geothermal project would “damage the social structure of the community,” according to press reports.

Supreme Energy has already spent around $30 million on a geothermal study and, along with its partners, plans to invest more than US$800 million for the exploration and construction of a plant. The consortium won the permit in 2010 and has an agreement with PT PLN to sell electricity from the proposed plant at the price of 9.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour. The proposed power plant would have a capacity of 2 x 110 MW.

At the same time, construction of a geothermal power plant in Bedugul reserve forest is being rejected by Bali’s community, according to reports, although the central government’s Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said recently the project would continue.

Hindu high priest Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa was quoted in press, “Geothermal power is obviously not in line with our belief that the mountain is a holy place. We just hope that the central government will respect it.” The province`s governor, I Made Mangku Pastika, also said he would reject the development. “I think it is a local wisdom that we must uphold and until now my response (towards the plan) is still no,” he was quoted on Thejakartapost.com

Geothermal energy has been attributed for providing steady generation and upping Mighty River Power (MRP)’s status in New Zealand. The company came out top in average prices for its wholesale electricity generation in the three months ending September 2013 despite the lowest inflows to the Waikato River since MRP’s establishment in 1999. Their proportion of generation from geothermal rose to 43% with the commissioning of the 82-MW Ngatamariki geothermal power station. Nbr.co.nz

An article on Exploringthearth.com points out links between volcanoes, geothermal systems, and precious metal formation as the author explores the Taupo, NZ geothermal region. The post includes photos from Orakei Korako, featuring silica sinters of amorphous silica (SiO2); Waiotapu, with “abnormally high amount of Au, Sb, As, Ag, Hg, among others”; and the Waimangu volcanic valley, with chloride water (rich in Na and Cl), and the acidic sulphate water.

Straddled on the border of North Korea and China, a volcano that plays a major role in the history of both nations has been showing signs of increased seismic activity. An article in The Economist describes how “geothermal geopolitics” are helping thaw the volatile relations between the nations: “North Korean authorities have become sufficiently worried to extend a rare invitation to a pair of British scientists, who visited North Korea’s volcano observatories in 2011. They returned in August this year to install six seismometers, which are to record tremors for a year.” Xu Jiandong, a vulcanologist at the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) in Beijing told the publication this is “our first indirect collaboration with the North.”

A Philippines Department of Energy report showed that geothermal energy accounted for 21.7% of the renewable energy mix in the nation in 2011. Now Palawan Province, an emerging tourist destination is seeking to be 100%-powered by renewable energy. Electricity for the province costs P12 per kWh compared to the Metro Manila rate of P6/kWh. An article on Rappler.com notes, “Palawan’s exclusion from the national grid may be a blessing in disguise: it means Palawan can restart from scratch and isn’t bound to follow the fossil-fuel-dependent energy models used in other parts of the Philippines.”

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