On Tuesday, the president of Indonesia attended the inauguration ceremony of the nation's first of five contracted floating power stations. The 125 megawatt plant installed on the ship, the converted barge carrier Zeynep Sultan, is expected to enter service in North Sulawesi by the end of the year. It is the Sultan's first deployment.
Indonesia is investing $50 billion in building some 35 gigawatts of generating capacity by 2020. The majority of the new land-based stations will be coal-fired, but the project has encountered delays, primarily from problems aquiring land, and the government is working to find faster solutions for areas with unmet needs.
The powerships will serve the growing needs of Indonesia's remote eastern islands, including Sulawesi, Halmaherah, Maluku and Papua, where demand has greatly outstripped electricity supply and blackouts are commonplace. The plants will be able to enter operation sooner than land-based facilities, run cheaply on inexpensive HFO, and relocate as needed around Indonesia's far-flung archipelago.
The stations are owned and operated by powership operator Karadeniz Holdings of Turkey, and will add around half a gigawatt of capacity to the Indonesian grid. The largest of the five, intended for North Sumatra, accounts for just under half of that total. Officials expect that deployment will be complete by the middle of 2016.
The plants are built around dual-fuel engines, able to run on either HFO or LNG. But Indonesian officials say that HFO is presently much cheaper, and while the utility has a tender out for LNG procurement, it will save millions on fuel costs every year that it uses HFO for its floating stations.
These conventionally-fuelled plants are not the only floating stations being considered by Indonesian authorities. In September, Russia's Rosatom Overseas signed an MOU with Indonesia's National Nuclear Energy Agency for studying construction of high-powered shore based and low-powered floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs).
Proposed Russian FNPP
While novel, the FNPP concept is not new. The first working example, the MH-1A, was built for the U.S. Army and supplied power to the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1975.
Russia has been interested in exporting the concept to Indonesia for some time; in 2007, North Sulawesi was said to be discussing a partnership to deploy a Russian FNPP.