Best of our wild blogs: 8 Oct 17

Velvet worm on Pulau Ubin
Entomological Network of Singapore

Morning Walk At Windsor Nature Park (07 Oct 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Butterfly of the Month - October 2017
Butterflies of Singapore

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Flooded tunnels, trackside fire cause massive disruption to 13 stations on North-South Line

Train services in both directions between Ang Mo Kio and Newton are not available for Saturday; SMRT working to resume services for Sunday
VICTOR LOH, AMANDA LEE Today Online 7 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Flooded tunnels and a trackside fire crippled operations on the North-South Line (NSL) on Saturday (Oct 7) evening in two separate incidents, affecting thousands of commuters on the weekend.

The track fault on the NSL affected train services from Ang Mo Kio to Newton stations for Saturday, as SMRT engineers scrambled to restore services in time for Sunday.

Earlier, SMRT trains on the NSL had to skip a total of 13 stations from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier, leading transport operator SMRT to advise commuters to consider alternative transportation options.

"At 5.33pm, train services were stopped between Bishan and Toa Payoh MRT stations as a precaution because of water in the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations," SMRT explained in a Facebook post.

"This occurred during torrential rain this afternoon," the company added.

The tunnel was reportedly flooded despite flood prevention measures having been improved recently. Currently, flood barriers at 35 underground MRT stations have been completed across the network.

The SCDF said it is using portable pumps to remove water in the tunnel and expects the process to be "a prolonged operation".

Separately, a small fire occurred on the trackside in the tunnel between the Marina Bay and Raffles Place MRT stations at 5.55pm.

Firefighters were sent to Marina Bay, but the fire had died out by itself when they arrived.

For safety reasons, NSL train services between Ang Mo Kio and Marina South Pier are not available, SMRT said.

SMRT was unable to provide information about the number of commuters who were affected on Saturday night and when the service can resume. It added it has “alternative plans” if the service is still not up and running by Sunday morning but would not elaborate.

Saturday’s disruption is possibly the widest outage since December 2011 when over 200,000 commuters were affected by a major service disruption along the NSL over two days.

On Dec 15 that year, an estimated 127,000 commuters were affected by a major service disruption along the NSL from Marina Bay station to Braddell station.

At that time four trains stalled because of a misalignment between the train’s current collector shoes and the power rail, also known as the third rail. The trains draw locomotive power from the third rail through the train current collector shoes. As there was a misalignment, the trains were unable to draw power and thus stalled.

Two days later, another service disruption took place on the same line during the morning and affected about 94,000 commuters. During this disruption, five trains stalled after encountering similar mechanical problems.

SMRT was only able to resume service around noon a day later.

Saturday's outage is believed to be the first time a MRT tunnel had been flooded after rain. In 2006, after an early morning downpour, the Novena MRT station had waterlogged floors and a dripping ceiling. The water, which flooded the floor by a height of 5cm, appeared to have come from a nearby construction site.

While train services were not affected at the time, staff from other stations arrived to shelter commuters with umbrellas and mop up the mess. To prevent the water from damaging the electrical systems, the escalators, fare gates and lift were switched off.

The latest incidents are not related to the new signalling project, SMRT said in its first of many updates on Saturday at 5.36pm. The track fault at the time was just isolated between Bishan and Toa Payoh stations.

Nine minutes later at 5.45pm, the outage affected another station: Ang Mo Kio.

Then, operator SBS Transit advised commuters to add 15 minutes to travel time in both directions.

SMRT said in a Facebook post that its engineers are investigating the cause of the trackside fire and flooded tunnels, and are working to resume train operations as soon as possible.

Water in the tunnel, trackside fire caused train disruption on NSL: SMRT
Channel NewsAsia 7 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: Train service along a large stretch of the North-South Line (NSL) - from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier - was disrupted on Saturday (Oct 7), after two separate incidents in the tunnel.

First, water got into a section of the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations during the heavy downpour in the afternoon. As a result, train services were stopped between Bishan and Toa Payoh stations at about 5.30pm as a precaution, said SMRT.

Separately, at about 5.55pm, a small fire was spotted trackside in the tunnel between Marina Bay and Raffles Place MRT stations, said SMRT.

It added that the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was activated "within minutes" and was deployed to Marina Bay, but the fire "died out by itself".

"For safety reasons, North-South Line train services between Ang Mo Kio and Marina South Pier are not available," said SMRT in a Facebook post at about 7.30pm. "Our engineers are on site and investigating both incidents."

Five hours after the disruption was first reported, services are still not fully restored. SMRT announced in a tweet at about 10.45pm that services between Ang Mo Kio and Newton in both directions will not be available for the rest of the night.

"We are working to resume services for Sunday," it added.

SCDF said it is using portable pumps to remove water in the tunnel, in what's expected to be "a prolonged operation".

SMRT first tweeted about a disruption between Bishan and Toa Payoh stations at about 5.35pm. But in an update 30 minutes later, it said that there was no train service between Ang Mo Kio and Marina South Pier stations in both directions. That's 13 stations or half the stretch of NSL.

Free regular bus and bridging services were made available. SMRT also said commuters should consider alternative transport.

"Our engineers are on-site and are working to recover services as quickly as possible," said SMRT. "We are sorry that your journey has been affected this evening."

Crowds were seen at bus stops outside the affected train stations, as commuters waited for bus bridging services or sought other forms of transport.

Commuter Cheryl Law, 28, said she had to ask family members to pick her up from Bishan MRT station, as there was "no chance" for her to get onto buses due to the crowds. "Some of the passengers here are so frustrated," she told Channel NewsAsia.

Heavy rains were reported over many areas of Singapore on Saturday afternoon, prompting national water agency PUB to issue flood warnings for several areas including Paya Lebar Road and Leng Kee Road.

The NSL disruption is the second in a day. Earlier on Saturday, services on the North-East Line towards Punggol were affected briefly by a train fault at Sengkang.
Source: CNA/ad/gs

NSL disruption: Train services between Ang Mo Kio and Newton will not be available until earliest Sunday
Christopher Tan, Charmaine Ng, Jose Hong, Ng Huiwen Straits Times 7 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - Water in MRT tunnels from Bishan to Braddell stations disrupted train services along 13 stations on the North-South Line for several hours on Saturday (Oct 7).

Train services between Newton and Marina South Pier were restored at 9.22pm, almost four hours after SMRT's first alert on the disrupted services.

However, at 10.45pm, SMRT said services between Ang Mo Kio and Newton will not be resumed on Saturday. SMRT was working to resume services on Sunday, the train operator said in a tweet and on Facebook.

It will carry out network-wide tunnel checks throughout the night, it said.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call from SMRT at 7.07pm about flooding in the tunnel between Braddell and Bishan MRT stations. In an update close to midnight on Saturday, SCDF said it is using portable pumps to siphon water from the affected area in what is expected to be prolonged operation.

The disruption comes as the National Environment Agency issued warnings of heavy rain with gusty winds over many parts of Singapore on Saturday.

Water in the tunnels went up to more than 30cm, The Straits Times understands.

There have been previous cases of water entering MRT tunnels, however, this is believed to be the first time it has affected train service.

Water got into the tunnels despite flood prevention measures having been improved recently, The Straits Times understands.

Bus bridging services have been activated.

Separately, a fire was spotted in a tunnel between Marina Bay and Raffles Place stations. It has since been put out.

It is not clear if it is linked to the flood, although electrical short circuits caused by water had sparked tunnel fires before.

SMRT said the "small fire" was spotted by a train captain at 5.55pm. SCDF was alerted and it deployed assets to Marina Bay station.

"However, the fire had died out by itself," said SMRT in its Facebook post.

SCDF told ST that it received a call from SMRT around 5.55pm about the fire. The fire burned itself out prior to SCDF's arrival, a spokesman said. There were no reported injuries.

Engineers were on site and investigating both incidents, said SMRT in its update on Facebook at around 7.32pm.

At around 8.30pm, SCDF and PUB officers were seen at Braddell MRT carrying hosereels into the station.

MRT tunnels are equipped with pumps which will kick in when tunnels are flooded. It is not known why they could not cope with the water on Saturday.

SMRT first sent an alert about the disruption in a tweet at 5.36pm. It said there was no train service between Bishan and Toa Payoh stations towards Marina South Pier "due to a track fault".

At 6.05pm, it updated that train services were not available between Ang Mo Kio and Marina South Pier.

Marketing manager P. Pang, 45, told ST that he boarded the train at Yio Chu Kang MRT at 5.37pm.

“The train was stuck at the station for quite a while. When I checked SMRT twitter and realised there was a track fault, I got off at Ang Mo Kio. But people were still boarding the train, as there was no instructions asking them not to,” he said.

Sales executive Imelda Tan, 51, was at City Hall MRT when she was instructed to take the Circle Line to Bishan instead and catch a bus from there to her home in Braddell.

“I was at Esplanade and walked to City Hall. I was about to tap in but then saw there was a large crowd outside. I had no idea what the problem was, so I asked the staff and have found out that I need to go all the way back to Esplanade and take the Circle Line back to Bishan,” she told ST.

Commodity manager Tan Yean Shi, who lives in Yishun, said directions from SMRT staff were helpful.

"There were people inside the station, and outside. It’s not bad, they’re quite helpful. But I think that now I won’t be able to get home even after an hour with this traffic jam,” the 33-year-old said.

Meanwhile, Uber Singapore said it was suspending surge pricing.

"Uber is working with the LTA to assist with the MRT service disruption between Ang Mo Kio and Marina South Pier. We will temporarily suspend dynamic pricing and encourage more drivers to go online to provide commuters another choice for transportation," a spokesman said.

In 2006, heavy rain in the morning, left the Novena station with water-logged floors and a dripping ceiling. The water, which rose to a height of 5cm, seemed to have come from a nearby construction site.

The North-East line too was disrupted on Saturday due to a train fault.

In a tweet at 12.39pm, train operator SBS Transit said service towards Punggol station was delayed due to a train fault at Sengkang station. Train service resumed about 20 minutes later.

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Malaysia: Scientists call for caution as deadly box jellyfish found off Penang’s coast

arnold loh The Star 8 Oct 17;

GEORGE TOWN: Two species of the deadly box jellyfish, previously not thought to exist here, are breeding in the sea around Penang.

Their venom causes Irukandji Syndrome, which includes severe hypertension, extreme lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, intense cramps, breathing difficulty and heart failure.

While not as lethal as the Australian Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), which can kill an adult human in three minutes, they are still life-threatening to young children, the elderly and the frail, said marine biologist Sim Yee Kwang.

He said the current population density of the two species – Chirop­soides buitendijki and Mor­bakka sp. – in Penang is two in every square kilometre of the sea up to 400m from the shoreline.

Sim, who is a scientist in the Cen­tre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) under Universiti Sains Malay­sia, has been combing the coastline of Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokong on the island and Pantai Bersih in Butterworth every two weeks since July to catch jellyfish.

The largest box jellyfish was caught 200m from the shore of Pantai Bersih in Butterworth, measuring 18cm from end to end of its cube-shaped body.

Cemacs director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan said box jellyfish were not thought to be in Penang.

“These are invasive species. Most likely, their larvae were carried to our waters in the ballasts of cargo ships,” she said.

She said unpredictable weather that significantly changed the sea’s temperature and salinity may trigger a bloom of the deadly jellyfish around Penang and also throughout the Strait of Malacca.

She said it is vital to develop a reporting mechanism of jellyfish sting victims in hospitals soon.

“We need to track cases of Iru­kandji Syndrome in hospitals to troubleshoot and monitor the spread of box jellyfish,” Dr Tan said.

She added that five years ago, she interviewed a fish farmer who was stung by a jellyfish while cleaning his open sea fish farm cages.

“He told us that in five minutes, he had difficulty breathing and was warded for several days.

“We suspected it was Irukandji Syndrome but did not have the data to confirm it,” Dr Tan said.

In February, a 12-year-old boy swimming in Teluk Bahang was stung by a jellyfish and went into a coma for three days.

Expert: Treat stings with vinegar, not urine or water
The Star 8 Oct 17;

GEORGE TOWN: Never use urine to ease a jellyfish sting.

The best first aid treatment is vinegar, said Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan.

“Vinegar will stop any stingers still stuck on the victim’s body from firing more venom,” she said.

She also said not to wash the affected part with freshwater.

“Stingers are microscopic. They are inside the nearly invisible tentacles of a jellyfish, which could still be stuck on a victim’s body.”

Dr Tan said now that two box jellyfish species are breeding in Penang, tourism players need to do more to ensure public safety.

She said medical practitioners must be alert to the possibility that victims may have had a brush with a box jellyfish and develop Irukandji Syndrome.

She said Cemacs, under Universiti Sains Malaysia, is planning a workshop on dealing with jellyfish on Dec 4 for anyone invol­ved in sea or beach activities in Penang.

The facilitators will include international experts attending the Harmful Jellyfish Sampling Protocol and Data Analy­sis In The Western Pacific workshop from Dec 5 to 6.

Visit for details.

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Indonesia: The real price of gold in Lombok - women with toxic mercury levels

Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa Sydney Morning Herald 8 Oct 17;

Sekotong, Lombok: Elawati blames herself for what happened to her son.

Rizki Ashadi is five and still wears a nappy. He sits on a rug on the porch, dribbling and contorting his limbs. The front of his sky-blue top is wet with drool and one of his beautiful liquid brown eyes points inwards.

Rizki cannot speak, but Elawati says he can understand her.

Before she realised she was pregnant, Elawati drank herbal concoctions to treat colds. The packet warned that the elixir should not be taken by pregnant women.

"I didn't find out I was pregnant for five months," Elawati says. "When I was pregnant I was sick a lot."

But an Indonesian NGO, BaliFokus, believes the cause of Rizki's disabilities might lie not in a herbal medication but within gold-processing machines, two of which grind away just metres from his house.

These rotating cylinders, known as ball mills, are the clattering soundtrack to life in Sekotong, an impoverished pocket of Lombok.

The island of Lombok is best known to Australians as a tourist mecca. It's less developed than Bali but has beautiful beaches and mountains and is a gateway to the car-free Gili Islands, where backpackers party and drink cheap cocktails.

But there is also jarring poverty, such as in Sekotong, where thousands of villagers eke an existence out of illegal gold mines that dot the dusty landscape.

The ball mills are used to crush ore extracted from the mines. After a few hours, water and mercury are added. Flecks of gold from the crushed ore bind to the liquid metal. The amalgam is then torched, which burns off the mercury and leaves behind a lump of gold. It's a popular technique, simple and cheap. But it can have devastating consequences.

The World Heath Organisation says mercury, a potent neurotoxin, can cause serious health problems and damage the brain and nervous system of children exposed in utero.

Elawati is one of 1044 participants in an international study that tested the mercury levels of women of childbearing age in 25 developing countries. The highest levels were found in Indonesian women from small-scale gold mining areas in Elawati's village of Sekotong in Lombok and Pongkor in West Java.

Elawati has not yet received the results of her test, but 94 per cent of the women tested from Sekotong had mercury levels greater than the internationally recognised safety threshold of one part per million (ppm).

"The harmful effects that can be passed from the mother to the foetus when the mother's mercury levels exceed 1ppm include neurological impairment, IQ loss, and damage to the kidneys and cardiovascular system," the study says.

"At high levels of mercury exposure this can lead to brain damage, mental retardation, blindness, seizures and the inability to speak."

The study released last month was produced by IPEN, a coalition of NGOs including BaliFokus from more than 100 countries that work to eliminate the harm to human health from toxic chemicals. It says where sampling was conducted in Indonesia there had been numerous reports of birth defects and people displaying symptoms of mercury intoxication.

According to 2014 figures, there are 250,000 illegal miners digging at 850 "hotspots" throughout Indonesia.

Yun Insiani, the director of hazardous and toxic material at the forestry and environmental ministry, says the symptoms of mercury-induced Minamata disease – dizziness, tremors, speaking difficulties and uncontrollable movements of body parts – have been observed in illegal mining areas: "The most at risk are pregnant women because they can deliver defective babies."

Insiani says the IPEN study is "shocking".

"The result is that Indonesian women are the ones most contaminated by mercury. And this is what we are afraid of because it means we may have lost a generation."

Indonesia has outlawed the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining, although the ban is not widely enforced. On September 20, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty designed to limit mercury use and emissions internationally. (Australia has signed but not ratified the convention.)

The Minamata Convention is named after a city in Japan where a chemical factory dumped mercury waste into the bay between 1932 and 1968. For many years no-one realised that fish in Minamata had been contaminated by mercury and it was causing a strange disease. At least 50 000 people were affected and more than 2000 cases of Minamata disease certified.

"While the mothers were usually without symptoms of mercury poisoning, their babies were born severely damaged with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, seizure disorders, blindness, deafness, and other malformations," the 2010 paper Mercury Exposure and Children's Health says.

The Indonesian government says that by ratifying the Minamata Convention, it will more strictly regulate the use of mercury. "Ratification also opens opportunities for international cooperation to increase public awareness and knowledge about the dangers of mercury," the foreign ministry said.

'The doctor said there was no cure'

Sifaiyah is emptying out a ball mill, channelling silvery mercury into a bucket where it squirms like a live animal. She pours the mercury into a maroon piece of material and squeezes. A tiny nugget is left inside the cloth.

Sifaiyah tried wearing gloves once but they made her clumsy. Mercury-contaminated slurry from the mill sloshes over her bare feet and into a tailings pond. Later, chopping chillies in a tiny shack a few metres away, Sifaiyah assures us that she has been processing gold like this in Sekotong for eight years and everyone in her family is fine: "I have never heard of anyone getting sick because of mercury."

The most dangerous work of all is done at roadside stalls or, even more perilously, inside people's homes. Edo, an amiable man in a T-shirt covered with flamingos, operates out of a blue-walled concrete room, open to the street. "Beli mas" (Buy gold) says a big yellow sign.

Edo roasts the amalgam with a blowtorch on a makeshift stand and then weighs and values the gold. The burning releases toxic fumes: WHO warns vapour inhalation may even be fatal. Edo is aware mercury is dangerous but isn't sure exactly why. He says he usually uses a mask but borrows one from us because he has run out.

Children cluster just metres away. Edo positions the fan on his wooden desk so the vapour goes elsewhere. "Sometimes at night I feel dizzy," he says. "But if I avoided fumes completely I wouldn't be able to work. That's the reality."

In 2014, BaliFokus measured mercury vapour at several locations in Sekotong and found medium to high concentration levels. Villagers are potentially exposed to a double whammy of mercury. Gold processing waste is often dumped near or in waterways where the mercury contaminates fish and rice. A 2012 study found Sekotong's mercury levels in rice alone represented a potential threat to the health of local residents.

Muhammad Fikri is almost eight. He lies listlessly on a mattress, his tongue lolling and his legs splayed at strange angles. He had a seizure after he was born and can't communicate or even chew. His family masticate his food and feed it to him as if he is a baby bird.

"The doctors said there was no cure, they can't fix the baby," his father Kurdi says.

BaliFokus co-founder Yuyun Ismawati estimates about 5 to 10 per cent of children in the area are born with birth defects and up to 15 per cent have delayed development. "I have observed many babies and children suffer from frequent seizures in many small-scale gold-mining hotspots."

But paediatrician Stephan Bose-O'Reilly, a world expert on health hazards posed by mercury in small-scale gold mining, says "unfortunately" he cannot confirm the children have birth defects due to their exposure to mercury.

"The only way to answer this question would be to set up a proper scientific study, with a birth defect register," he says. "But what I can confirm is that mercury is toxic for children."

A 2007 study, co-authored by Bose-O'Reilly, examined 166 children from gold mining areas in Indonesia and Zimbabwe. "Compared to the control groups, the exposed children showed typical symptoms of mercury intoxication, such as ataxia (lack of muscle coordination)," the abstract says.

Dr I Nyoman Adnyana, the head of the medical clinic in Sekotong, stresses there is no proven link between mercury exposure and birth defects in the area.

"Without a valid result we can't say one way or the other," he says. "Birth defects happen in all areas, not just Sekotong."

Adnyana points out that Sekotong is a tourism area. He says if a direct link between mercury contamination and birth defects was proven it would need to be exposed. But in the absence of this, he worries about the impact on the local economy.

In 2010, West Lombok authorities tried to shut down illegal gold mines in Sekotong. The community rebelled.

"The people said they could drink mercury and were fine," says Rachman Sahnan Putra, the head of the West Lombok health department. He says he has tried everything to educate the community on the dangers of mercury, including screening films and holding seminars. But the message isn't getting through.

A youth group recently contacted him wanting assistance to breed fish in an old tailings pond. "That's the limited understanding. If they can't see silver, they think there is no mercury."

Regulatory efforts have also been continuously frustrated. A ban on the supply of mercury saw it smuggled in on small boats. Rachman is sympathetic to BaliFokus' concerns but he is also a realist: "Stopping the use of mercury won't work unless local communities are offered an alternative so they can maintain their livelihoods."

The Association of Community Mining in Indonesia (APRI) says there are ways of processing gold that do not use mercury or even cyanide, another toxic chemical commonly used in gold mining.

"There's a way of processing using no chemicals, or using harmless chemicals," says association head Gatot Sugiharto. "The harmless chemicals are actually cheap, but we need to educate people to use them. That's why we want the government to work together with APRI."

Fatimah is another of the 32 women in Sekotong who was tested for mercury as part of the IPEN study. Last year her only son, Iqbal, died aged three.

"He couldn't do anything like a normal baby, like crawl or communicate," Fatimah says. "After 2½ years he started getting very sick and not wanting to eat."

Iqbal's father, Nursah, used to torch gold amalgam by the side of the house. Ismawati, from BaliFokus, warned the couple this might have caused Iqbal's illness.

"When Ibu [Ms] Yuyun advised me of the danger, I sold my ball mill and became a construction worker," Nursah says. "Mining is more profitable but it is just not worth it. I don't want what happened to Iqbal to happen again."

Fatimah shows us a photo of Iqbal, twisted in a strange angle on a green woven bamboo mat. Her eyes fill with tears and she stares downwards. The couple recently learned Fatimah is two months pregnant.

"We have concern of course that the baby will have the same problem, but we are praying," Nursah says quietly.

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Indonesia: Cheap funds needed to develop renewable energy

Andi Abdussalam Antara 7 Oct 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia should not harbor concerns over depleting fossil fuel reserves since it is rich in renewables, as the sources of energy in the future, and geothermal is one of the countrys renewable source assets.

Geothermal power in Indonesia is an increasingly significant source of renewable energy, and as a result of its volcanic geology, it is often reported that the country has 40 percent of the worlds potential geothermal resources, which is estimated to be 29 thousand megawatts (MW).

However, Indonesia requires funds to develop its new and renewable sources of energy. The government wants renewable sources to contribute 23 percent of the countrys energy mix by 2025, and the country has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030.

In order to facilitate the development of renewable sources of energy, the Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Ministry is encouraging PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI), a state-owned infrastructure funding company, to help develop new and renewable energy by disbursing low-interest loans.

At a presentation of a Micro Hydro project for Indonesia in Jakarta on Thursday, Deputy ESDM Minister Arcandra Tahar said the government is looking for cheap funds to develop the potential of new and renewable energy in Indonesia.

"We, at the ministry, are trying to bring in lenders who can offer us a cheap interest rate, and we are looking to source cheap funds, including from the SMI. We encourage the SMI to spend some of its funds for the development of new and renewable energy," he remarked.

Tahar said several financial institutions are offering funding assistance. European lenders are offering an interest rate at below five percent.

Nevertheless, he admitted that until now, none of the offers can be realized, as the government is also making calculations and studying their requirements.

One of the proposed conditions concerns the application of technology whose economic value still needs to be computed by the government, according to the deputy minister.

"The government is still making calculations to evaluate the economic value of the funding interest rate. Sometimes, the technology from the leaders is not always economically appropriate, so it should be calculated first," he pointed out.

Arcandra stressed that the government will continue to bring in lenders offering cheap loans to cater to the need to develop the countrys renewable energy potential.

The ESDM Ministry has also gathered stakeholders several times to work on it.

"The government is doing its best. This is a B-to-B deal. One of the governments instruments is using the SMI. The other instruments are foreign lenders that are able to provide soft loans," he said.

The ESDM Ministry has recorded that the total renewable energy potential in Indonesia reached 441.7 gigawatts (GW).

However, based on data from the Directorate General of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation of the ESDM, of the 441.7 GW, only two percent, or 8.8 GW, has been generated from the plant installed this year.

Hence, the House of Representatives has supported the governments efforts to continue to develop the countrys new and renewable sources of energy, particularly geothermal, whose reserves in Indonesia are considered to be the largest in the world.

"I invite all of you to set a common goal to spur the development of environment-friendly renewable energy, so that the target to reduce emissions by 29 percent in 2030 can be achieved," said the DPR Agus Hermanto in Jakarta, Friday (Oct 6).

The legislator reminded that to realize the target of 23 percent renewable energy use, the use of renewable energy resources or environment-friendly energy must be increased.

Hermanto, who is a Democratic Party politician, also warned that a new and renewable energy policy had been contained in Presidential Regulation No. 79 of 2014 on the National Energy Policy. It aimed to develop alternative energy sources in lieu of fuel oil, while renewable energy was targeted to reach 23 percent by 2025, he added.

Admittedly, there are many challenges to develop environment-friendly energy for the creation of clean air. The main challenge lies in the certainty of regulation and the economic aspects of developing renewable energy.

In addition to this, it would take bold steps in the form of policy and political will together to encourage the development of clean environment-friendly energy.

In reaching the new and renewable energy target of 23 percent by 2025, the government has devised various strategies. In the geothermal field, for example, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources has issued Regulation No. 36 on Preliminary Survey Assignment Procedure (PSP) and Preliminary Survey Assignment and Exploration (PSPE).

Through this introduction and the PSPE Assignment mechanism, the Government may assign the business entity to conduct geological, geochemical, geophysical, and/or integrated evaluation activities up to the drilling of exploration wells to obtain information on geothermal reserve estimates.

The PSPE mechanism will help potential geothermal investors to ensure geothermal reserves gain more comprehensive economic value calculations, mitigate future development risks, and greater opportunities to secure project finance by delivering more bankable data and information.

Several other breakthroughs that have been made to increase geothermal investments include assignments of state-owned enterprises to improve the investments, based on Law No. 21 of 2014 on Geothermal Exploration, Fiscal Incentives, Tax Allowance and Non-Fiscal Incentives.

The government, moreover, also simplifies the procedures of receiving license for the exploration by establishing the One-Stop Integrated Service (PTSP) at the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

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