Analysts: Coal becomes a new geopolitical weapon in the energy transition era

Jakarta—The Indonesian government is under strong pressure to reduce its use of coal as an energy source, especially from developed countries such as the United States and Europe. According to the Executive Director of Reforminer Institute, Komaidi Notonegoro, the strong push from these Western countries cannot be separated from Indonesia’s key role in the global coal market.

According to Komaidi, to deal with this pressure, the Indonesian government must move quickly to set a target of reducing the use of Steam Power Plants (PLTUs), even to the point of retiring some operating PLTUs.

“Every year, hundreds of millions of tons of Indonesian coal are sent to China and India, which are the ‘enemies’ of Western countries in world trade,” Komaidi said in the discussion session.

The use of coal in power plants is one of the primary sources of electricity production in Indonesia.

According to Komaidi’s data, China and India have become the leading destinations for Indonesia’s coal exports. In the past 15 years, they have become the main competitors in world trade between Europe and the United States.

“The energy mix of these two countries shows their dependence on coal, with India reaching 70 per cent and China reaching 60-65 per cent of its total energy,” he explained.

However, while coal is the focus of the global energy transition, its economic role in Indonesia remains significant. Coal is linked to 76 supporting sectors in Indonesia, contributing to substantial economic growth.

Special Staff of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) for the Acceleration of Mineral and Coal Governance, Irwandy Arif, emphasized that coal’s economic contribution to Indonesia cannot be ignored. “Indonesia’s mineral and coal wealth reaches USD 4 trillion, and most of it comes from coal,” he said.

Nonetheless, Irwandy highlighted the challenges Indonesia’s coal industry faced in the context of global energy transition. “The government has lowered its coal use target until 2025, but coal production is expected to continue until 2060,” he explained.

Although various scenarios have been considered, coal is still considered relevant for a long time, with an estimated production of 720 million tons until 2060. However, this will certainly depend on the development of renewable energy technologies. (Hartatik)

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