Indonesia’s coal industry is enjoying a resurgence, driven both by rising demand from China — the world’s biggest consumer of the fossil fuel — and a push by the government in Jakarta to build more coal-fired power plants.Producers in Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest coal exporters, are seen as maximizing their output in response to the current favorable market conditions, confident that domestic demand will serve as a buffer against another export slump.However, activists warn that the coal rush will only hasten Indonesia’s “environmental destruction,” citing the high costs that the mining and power-generation industries have already exacted on both the ecosystem and communities. JAKARTA —Demand for energy in China and Indonesia continues to drive the resurgence of the latter’s coal industry, setting back efforts in both countries to shift to a greater share of renewable energy.Mining, freight and trade executives were largely upbeat at what was billed as the coal industry’s biggest event of the year, the 24th Coaltrans Asia, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali earlier this month. Analysts who attended the three-day conference said the outlook in China was still very strong, especially for coal from Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest exporters of the fossil fuel.Arcandra Tahar, Indonesia’s deputy minister for energy and mines, said the government planned to increase its investment in the coal and minerals sector this year to $6.2 billion. He also told the Coaltrans Asia conference that Indonesia had no plans to reduce coal exports, Reuters reported.Indonesia’s coal exports are expected to hit 371 million metric tons this year, up 7 percent from last year.Domestic demand is also driving the boon for Indonesia’s coal producers, thanks to an ambitious government plan to add 56 gigawatts (GW) of electricity capacity across the archipelago by 2027, mostly through the construction of new coal-fired power plants.Bambang Gatot Ariyono, the energy ministry’s head of coal and minerals, told the conference in Bali that the government had moved beyond seeing coal as just a commodity. “Coal is now seen as a source of energy to support the national industry growth,” he said as quoted by tambang.co.id.Every day, more than 130 trucks transport coal from PT SPC’s concession. Photo by Yitno Suprapto/ Mongabay-Indonesia.Demand from ChinaWhile China has been at the forefront of the global shift to renewables, spending more on domestic renewable energy than any other country, a report by the Global Carbon Project, an international consortium, projected China’s emissions in 2017 jumped by 3.5 percent, after declining by 0.3 percent the year before.Behind China’s renewed appetite for coal is the robust economic growth in the world’s biggest energy consumer. With the construction of natural gas infrastructure proceeding slower than expected, much of the growing demand for electricity has had to be met by burning more coal. As a result, China’s consumption of coal rose by 0.4 percent last year, the first increase since 2013.“We often laud China as the new renewables champion, and indeed, if we talk about quantity and scale, no one can beat India and China,” Adhityani Putri, national director of the Center for Energy Research Asia (CERA), a Jakarta-based think tank, told reporters in Jakarta.“But on the other hand, they’re still adding substantial coal power capacity, and that’s influencing the coal industry dynamic,” she said. “Until India and China truly stop [burning coal], coal will remain attractive.”The prospects for coal are markedly different from just a few years ago, when the price of the fossil fuel hit a 12-year low in 2015 — the result of a production glut in countries like Indonesia, and a shift to renewables by major consumers such as China and India. The coal price now is at its highest point since 2012.A key river in Sekalak village has been polluted by chunks of coal and soil deposition reportedly coming from mining company PT Bara Indah Lestari which operates nearby. Photo by Dedek Hendry/Mongabay-Indonesia.Domestic driveThe demand from China is good news for Indonesia’s coal producers. But if the export market takes another tumble, they will have a booming domestic market to fall back on this time.To meet its coal export target, Indonesia aims to increase its production by 5 percent this year, to 485 metric million tons (MMT). If it achieves this figure, this year will mark the fourth in a row that the country’s coal production has exceeded the threshold set by the government in its mid-term national development plan, called the RPJMN.The plan calls for production to taper down each year, settling at 400 MMT by 2019. Instead, not only has production exceeded the target each year — it has increased every year.A major factor behind this trend is the growing domestic demand. At present, Indonesia’s coal-fired power plants require about 80 to 90 MMT of coal per year, or roughly 80 percent of the locally mined coal that is allocated for the domestic market.“Slowly but sure, we’re starting to prioritize domestic needs,” said Bambang, the energy ministry’s coal chief. “Based on the national development plan, the domestic market [for coal] has increased 27 percent each year, and in 2019, we hope it’ll increase by 60 percent.”Elrika Hamdi, an energy finance analyst from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a Cleveland, Ohio-based think tank, noted that the 10-year business plan from state-owned power utility PLN indicated it was on a building spree: “there are going to be many new coal-fired plants operating in 2020 and 2021,” she said.Coal producers, she added, are “trying to dig as much coal as they can while it’s still possible. They’re capitalizing on the moment [when] the coal price is high, with the [Coaltrans Asia] conference saying the price will be stable or even have an upward trend.”This microhydro power station was designed and financed by Sungai Luar communities in Kapuas Hulu. The communities also manage the plant. Photo by Yves Laumonier/CIFORDamper on renewablesThe bullish outlook for coal, driven in large part by government policy, could spell trouble for the renewable energy market in Indonesia, which is already struggling to compete with the ubiquitous fossil fuel, analysts say.Indonesia will miss its target of generating 23 percent of its energy from new and renewable sources by 2025 unless it makes significant policy and regulatory changes, according to a report from the Geneva-based Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).“Many stakeholders we spoke to hold this view and have expressed concerns that the current policies do not provide enough incentive to grow renewables,” Richard Bridle, a senior policy adviser at GSI, said at the launch of the report in March. “More friendly regulations will be a critical first step to boosting renewable energy development in Indonesia and building a business case for investment.”But right now, the momentum and policy framework are not in favor of renewables — so much so that the coal industry players at the recent Bali conference said they didn’t see renewables as a competitive threat in the Indonesian market.“While speakers at the conference see renewables as a threat because prices for renewables have declined in the past 10 years, it’s not [considered] a threat for Indonesia,” Elrika said. “Even the government of Indonesia says it will still use coal as the base load power source.”Bambang said there was no worry about Indonesia depleting its coal reserves, estimated at 13 billion metric tons, in the near term.“If national coal production is 500 million metric tons per year and no new reserves are found, then Indonesia’s coal reserve will be depleted 26 years from now,” he said.Solar panels atop an Intel facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Intel via Flickr.Climate change, renewables ‘being ditched’The national government’s attitude to coal is one that’s shared by local authorities, for whom the issues of climate change and renewable energy barely rate a mention in the lead-up to local elections in June, when voters will choose 17 provincial governors, 115 district heads and 39 mayors.“In the regional election campaigns, not a single candidate has talked about renewable energy,” said Merah Johansyah, coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), an NGO. “And next year’s presidential election might not talk about renewables either. So this topic is indeed being ditched.”Merah criticized government policies that he said heavily favor coal for economic reasons and fail to consider its environmental and social impacts.“First, the industry demands lots of water,” he said, citing the case of the Tanjung Bara power plant owned by PT Kaltim Prima Coal in East Kalimantan province. The plant uses up 12 million liters (3.2 million gallons) of water per month, Merah said — about five times the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool.Another environmental impact is the clearing of land for new mines. Across Indonesia, some 440,000 square kilometers (170,000 square miles) of agricultural land has been converted for coal mines, Merah said.“There’s a potential loss of 6 million tons of rice per year because coal mines operate on agricultural land,” he said.The mining industry is also notorious for leaving behind open pits after exhausting a given site, despite a requirement that the miners fill them in once they cease operations. Thousands of these abandoned pits are scattered throughout Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo, where they fill up with rainwater and turn into ponds where dozens of people, mostly children, have drowned. According to data from Jatam, the provinces with the most abandoned mining pits are South Kalimantan, with 814, and East Kalimantan, with 779.Merah said the Coaltrans Asia conference was effectively a gathering to talk about “the continuation of environmental destruction in Indonesia.”“They only talk about the economy of coal. They don’t talk about the external costs of the coal industry,” he said. “Furthermore, the government only talks with businesspeople through the Coaltrans conference. There’s no room for the public to talk with the government.” Carbon Emissions, Climate Change, Coal, Emission Reduction, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Mining, Renewable Energy Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Banner image: A coal mining site in Bengkulu, Sumatra. Photo by Taufik Wijaya/Mongabay-Indonesia.