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Aim is to deploy nuclear plant on Indonesian island for ammonia production

The signing of the agreement for a small modular reactor in Indonesia. Courtesy Copenhagenn Atomics.

Four Danish companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian state-owned corporations to potentially build a small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear facility on the island of Borneo that can produce one million tonnes of ultra-low emissions ammonia per year.

A statement said the economics of the overall project have not yet been finalised, but construction is expected to cost around $4bn (€3.7bn), plus operation and maintenance with the facility operating in 2028.

The four Danish companies are Copenhagen Atomics, Topsoe, Alfa Laval and Aalborg CSP. The MOU was signed with ammonia producer Pupuk Kaltim and national energy company Pertamina New & Renewable Energy.

Copenhagen Atomics, which is developing a thorium molten salt SMR, said in a statement that the ammonia produced by the plant, planned for Bontang in eastern Borneo, would be enough to produce fertiliser for the production of food for 45 million people, or about one sixth of the Indonesian population.

The company said: “In the next six months, the final examinations must be completed and the legal landscape in Indonesia should be fully mapped.”

The proposed nuclear power station will be 1,000 MW, consisting of 25 SMR units. The facility is expected to begin operation in 2028 and would run for 50 years.

The project will be among the first to use Copenhagen Atomics’ modular molten salt thorium reactors.

Topsoe will supply newly developed electrolysis cell technology. Alfa Laval will deliver heat exchangers and Aalborg CSP will design and supply thermal energy storage systems.

Copenhagen Atomics says its thorium molten salt reactor burns nuclear waste to create an abundance of affordable and “green” energy. The technology has the potential to provide the lowest cost of energy compared with any other energy technology.

The Advantages Of Thorium

Thorium is much more abundant than uranium, which is used to fuel existing reactors. The amount of thorium needed to cover the energy consumption of a person’s lifetime is comparable to the size of a golf ball.

Thorium fuels are said to result in a safer and better-performing reactor core because thorium dioxide has a higher melting point, higher thermal conductivity, and a lower coefficient of thermal expansion. It is more stable chemically than uranium dioxide.

The MOU is the second agreement related to the potential deployment of SMRs in Indonesia in recent months. In March, the US awarded a grant to Indonesia for technical assistance towards the deployment of the Asian nation’s first SMR – with a potential site already chosen in West Kalimantan, a province on the island of Borneo.

The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) said it had awarded the grant to government-owned electricity distributor PLN Indonesia Power for technical assistance to help develop the SMR.

Indonesia Power has chosen Oregon-based NuScale Power to carry out the assistance in partnership with a subsidiary of Texas-based Fluor Corporation and Japan’s JGC Corporation.

Date: Tuesday, 23 May 2023
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