The USA and Indonesia have announced a strategic partnership to help Indonesia develop its nuclear clean energy programme, supporting Indonesia’s interest in deploying small modular reactor (SMR) technology to meet its energy security and climate goals. Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, US Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Y Kim, US Department of State Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ann Ganzer and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced the Memorandum of Agreement during the Indo-Pacific Business Dialogue in Bali.

The agreement, along with the signing of affiliated grants and a contract, were described as “a deliverable under the Partnership for Global Infrastructure & Investment (PGII)”. The PGII is a collaborative effort by Group of Seven (G7) countries to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations and is considered to be the G7’s counter to China's Belt & Road Initiative. It was announced for the first time in June 2022 during the 48th G7 summit in Germany.

The US Department of State (DOS) said the agreement “advances the goals of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) and will strengthen Indonesia’s leadership in the ASEAN region on the deployment of advanced, safe, and secure nuclear clean energy technologies, working toward the goal of Net Zero Emissions in Indonesia by 2060.”

As part of the agreement, USTDA has awarded a grant to Indonesia Power (PLN) to assist in assessing the technical and economic viability of a proposed NPP, to be located in West Kalimantan. It will include a site selection plan, power plant and interconnection system design, preliminary environmental and social impact assessment, risk assessment, cost estimate, and regulatory review.

Cooperation will also include $1m in new funding for capacity-building for Indonesia, based on the Indonesia’s existing partnership under the DOS’s Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of SMR Technology (FIRST) Programme. This includes support in areas such as workforce development, stakeholder engagement, regulations, and licensing.

The US Ambassador to Indonesia, Sung Y Kim, said: “The US-Indonesia economic relationship is thriving, and … we are seeing some of the tangible outcomes of our partnership.” said. He added that the strategic partnership “is an important milestone in Indonesia’s efforts to achieve its climate goals while promoting sustainable economic growth”.

PLN has selected US-based NuScale Power to carry out the assistance in partnership with a subsidiary of Texas-based Fluor Corporation and Japan’s JGC Corporation. The proposed 462 MWe facility would utilise NuScale’s SMR technology and advance Indonesia’s clean energy transition, the US Embassy in Indonesia noted.

“Indonesia has demonstrated a strong interest in partnering with the United States on its energy transition and identifying innovative and groundbreaking US technology to advance its goals,” said USTDA Director Enoh T Ebong. “USTDA has a unique, catalytic role in advancing the development of some of the most ambitious and noteworthy infrastructure projects in Indonesia and emerging economies around the globe.”

“After 78 years of waiting, now is the time to achieve self-sufficiency in emission-free green energy,” said PLN President Director Edwin Nugraha Putra. “Through cooperation on technical assistance for the development of a small modular reactor, Indonesia Power, the National Research & Innovation Agency of Indonesia, and NuScale, with support from USTDA, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and PLN, have opened the gates to a new era of nuclear energy for electricity to light up Indonesia.”

NuScale President & CEO John Hopkins, said that, in addition to providing SMR technology to countries such as Indonesia that are seeking zero-carbon baseload power, “NuScale continues to support the US government in strengthening relationships abroad through clean energy. NuScale VOYGR SMR power plants are poised for the energy transition and will reinforce energy security for years to come.”

Image: Announcement of the USA-Indonesia agreement at the Indo-Pacific Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Forum in Bali (courtesy of US Embassy in Jakarta)