March 30, 2023
JAKARTA – PT ThorCon Power Indonesia (TPI), a subsidiary of United States-based nuclear power plant company ThorCon, has submitted a consultation paper to build a 500-megawatt thorium molten salt reactor (MSR) in Indonesia.
If successful, it would be the first nuclear power plant in the country.
The consultation paper, which has been received by the Nuclear Power Regulatory Agency (Bapeten), marks the start of the licensing process to build the power plant. According to the firm, investment for this project may total Rp 17 trillion (US$1.1 billion).
Sugeng Sumbarjo, interim head of Bapeten, said the evaluation of the consultation paper could be finished in two years.
“We will check the site, whether it meets [the requirements] or not. Are there any earthquakes or flood [risks] around the site? We will assess it,” Sugeng said on Tuesday, as quoted by Bisnis.
Sugeng also explained that the small-scale nuclear plant would be located on Gelasa Island in Bangka Belitung province.
It measures 221 hectares, is uninhabited and according to Sugeng has as minimal risk of earthquakes and forest fires. The nearest active volcano, Krakatau, is around 400 kilometers away.
“Several players have expressed their investment interest, but ThorCon is the only one that has submitted a consultation paper,” Sugeng stated.
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According to the Bapeten interim head, the approval process for the site, design and construction licenses would take until 2028. The company then could start the construction process, which may take two years.
“We hope that the power plant could run commercially in 2032. That target is achievable, as long as every requirement can be met,” Sugeng said.
Later this year, the government would establish a Nuclear Energy Program Implementation Organization (NEPIO), an ad-hoc organization tasked primarily with accelerating nuclear power plant investment, according to Sugeng.
Made in South Korea
Bob Effendi, chief operating officer at TPI, explained that the nuclear reactors would be made in South Korea. In Indonesia the firm would only build port infrastructure and what it calls a “non-fission test bed platform.”
Thus, most of the Rp 17 trillion investment would go to South Korea.
After the construction is finished, the power plants would be delivered to Gelasa Island.
However, Bob revealed that TPI might invest more at a later stage.
“We would construct four to five reactors in South Korea, but in the future, after starting our operations here, probably we would build a factory in Indonesia, too.”
The TPI executive explained that the company would need to import around 20 tonnes of thorium and uranium per year to fuel the nuclear reactors.
The power plant could produce electricity at a price of around 6 US cents per kilowatt hour, on par with the electricity from coal-fired steam power plants, he explained.
Last year, Bob said ThorCon had a plan to sell its electricity to state-owned electricity company PLN through an excess power scheme, as reported by Katadata.