Jakarta. Indonesia must consider utilizing nuclear power and invest in young specialists in the field for the sake of energy security, experts say.
"We are very aware that engaging the younger generation is important ... we would like to make sure Indonesia can develop its own energy program with its own human resources," Dimas Irawan, manager at the National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan), said during a discussion in Jakarta on Thursday (09/11).
He added that youth engagement will also be essential in an effort to educate members of the public on benefits and risks of nuclear power.
"The younger generation can positively influence the public perception on this source of energy," Dimas said.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo seeks to add 35 gigawatts of power to the country's grid and increase the renewable portion of Indonesia's energy mix to 23 percent by 2025.
The government has ceased to issue permits for new coal-fired power stations to reach the renewable energy target.
However, in order to meet Indonesia's energy needs, nuclear power may be required.
In 2010, Batan established a scholarship program aimed at motivating secondary school graduates to join nuclear energy-related studies. To date, 137 scholarships have been awarded to students enrolled at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), the University of Indonesia (UI), the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and other higher education institutions across the country.
Dimas said that the "youth's interest in joining nuclear-related studies is growing."
Indonesian students and young professionals established the National Youth Nuclear Community (Kommun) in 2013, which now has 600 members from 30 different institutions.
According to Dimas, Indonesia can work together with other countries, like Russia, to help develop its human resources and nuclear energy capabilities.
In 2003, Russia pledged to reduce its natural gas-based power supply by increasing nuclear power generation by 2020. The Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) targets nuclear power generation in the country to reach more than 20 percent.
"Russia is the world leader in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and we believe [that] to meet the growing demand [for energy] in Indonesia, there is no other choice but to use the nuclear option," Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin said.
Indonesia-Russia cooperation in the field started several years ago. In 2015, Rosatom and Batan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the development and peaceful use of nuclear energy, and in May 2016 Rosatom signed a MoU with UI on cooperation in nuclear-related education.
In the future, the two countries may expand the partnership to include broader technological cooperation, exchanges of lecturers, and technological conferences, Galuzin added.