Indonesia planned to build 270 wind power generator with a capacity of 21.67 MW

With its population spread out over more than 17,000 islands, many Indonesians live in cities, yet some are in areas so remote that electricity access is almost zero.

This year, the government has allocated 600 billion rupiah (about 62.4 million dollars) to build solar plants for 100,000 people. Under the ministry’s 2010-2014 power generation blueprint, it would build 250 solar-powered plants across the country.

In addition, the government also planned to build 570 micro hydropower plants with a generating capacity of 45.6 megawatts, to set solar power generating panels for 192,000 homes and to build 270 wind power generator with a total power capacity of 21.67 MW.

Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry announced that it would spend 800 billion rupiah (about 84 million U.S. dollars) to build solar power plants with a total capacity of 2,234 kilowatts-peak to expand access to electricity in rural areas next year, the Jakarta Globe reported here on Monday.

"The electricity produced by the plants will benefit 150,000 to 200,000 households in different parts of the country," Jacobus Purwono, the ministry’s director general of electricity said.

A wind generator or wind turbine is a machine for converting the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as a pump or grinding stones, the machine is usually called a windmill. If the mechanical energy is then converted to electricity, the machine is called a wind generator.

Indonesia is also the only OPEC member in Southeast Asia, but in recent years it’s actually become a net importer of oil. (Production is down from aging oil fields, consumption is up, and the government in Jakarta feels the fire of an energy crisis bubbling beneath the surface.)

But trouble isn’t the only thing simmering under this archipelago nation. That’s because geothermal energy is about to break out from an underexploited state to become a primary resource for Indonesia’s energy needs.

Indonesia’s largest listed oil and gas company, PT Medco, is about to break ground on a 330 MW geothermal plant in Northern Sumatra. That project will cost about $800 million to be split with Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA) and Japan’s Itochu. For Ormat, geothermal is a normal day’s work. For Medco, this marks a major reality check for its regional energy ambitions.

The Pacific Rim is about to become a major clean energy success story, just as much as the Persian Gulf’s oil traps were for the fossil fuel industry.

Medco is currently engaged in a pricing dispute over the N. Sumatra geothermal project, and the dominant Indonesian utility, Persero, is trying to quash it.

With 27,000 MW in potential geothermal resources, PT PLN (Persero) and the government shouldn’t have to nudge Medco into a deal. More than anything, though, geothermal energy can combine with greater energy efficiency to bring Indonesia into better balance with its own growth and global energy pricing.