Geothermal doesn't draw power directly from volcanoes, but Indonesia's volcanic activity is just a sign of the underlying potential waiting to be tapped. Photo: flydime via flickr.
Indonesia may not be tapping into much of its superior http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_powergeothermal power potential at the moment, that's about to change. As Inhabitat points out the island nation plans on adding an additional 4000 MW of geothermal to its existing 1200 MW, all in the name of increasing the percentage of its citizens with electricity access from 65% today to 90% by 2014. But that's just part of the story.
Map of geothermal hotspots, most of which are along the edges of tectonic plates... Wikipedia
As the original article in Physorg says, this geothermal expansion (which we'll get to in a moment) is part of a bigger big-push electricity expansion scheme. The goal: Add an additional 10,000 MW of capacity by 2012, mostly through more coal power plants, and then another 10,000 MW from cleaner sources by 2014, which is where the additional 4 GW of geothermal comes in.
The gist of it: More people with electricity = good, adding 10 GW of renewables = good, adding an additional 10 GW of coal = watch the emissions of the world's third-largest greenhouse gas polluter (thanks to wholesale destruction of its rainforests for timber, palm oil and agriculture). The increase in clean power will in no way make up for the equal expansion of dirty power.
Geothermal Power Plans 'Truly Challenging'
OK, back to the geothermal part: The estimated investment to bring that much of an increase in geothermal online in the next four years stands at $12 billion and is described as "truly challenging" by Indonesian Geothermal Association chief Surya Darma.
Part of the problem is logistical. It can take up to three years just to build a geothermal power plant; and that's after financing is arranged and field exploration is done. Then there's the fact as Physorg points out, that "many of the best geothermal sources lie in protected forests, so the government aims to allow the drilling of wells inside conservation areas while insisting that the power plants themselves be outside."
More on the Geothermal Power:
12,100 Megawatts of Geothermal Power by 2025: Department of Interior Opens Up Lands For Leasing
Geothermal Power Plant Triggers Earthquake in Switzerland
Naked Bathers Protest Geothermal Plants in Japan