The Track of Indonesia’s Green Nickel Development; The Role of Solar Energy in Nickel Mining
Indonesia is one of the top five leading nickel producing countries in 2021 by volume (Global Data, 2021). The demand for nickel as the main element to create batteries is fastly growing, aside from that nickel is also primarily used for stainless production, which is used in the construction, automotive, and consumer goods sectors. Although nickel demand today is dominated by steel production (around 70%), the nickel demand for the development of EV industries is expected to increase from 6% in 2020 to about one-third of total nickel demand in 2030 (CSIS, 2021).
Consumer trends are now becoming more environmentally-conscious, pushing companies to develop products and conduct mining activities that are more environmentally-friendly. The mining of nickel is carbon-intensive, this has also become a new challenge for the government to establish further environmental standards for sustainable mining and processing industries. Nickel is seen as a key element for the transition to a low-emission world, but it is carbon-heavy to produce. With the increasing global demand for nickel, Indonesia as a key contributor in the nickel industry is currently pushing for better sustainable mining and processing. Expected to slowly shift the coal-fired power generation in the nickel processing, nickel mining companies are now starting to consider cleaner and renewable energy sources such as solar energy.
Indonesia has a great abundance of solar energy sources from west to east, the opportunity to utilize it in the mining sector is huge. Solar energy uses the sun’s radiation to create concentrated solar power (CSP) or photovoltaic power (PV), which happen to be one of the most sustainable power sources. In addition to its low cost, solar energy does not contribute to any environmental risks and has resulted zero carbon emission. In which very compelling to be used as an alternative to generate power in mining industries.
Aiming to keep lowering its carbon footprint, Nickel Industries Ltd. is expanding the existing cooperation with SESNA Group to install solar panels at their plants. Nickel Industries is committed to evidence-based climate change preparedness and mitigation targets. Environmental management is an important part of their operations, proven by the data from 2020 to 2021, the total GHG emission has decreased to approximately 5.3% (Nickel Industries Sustainability Report, 2021). To optimize the use of renewable energy sources, the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop 200 MW Solar Farm in the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) as one of their operational areas, this extended cooperation is an addition to the current existing solar project with the capacity of 396 kWp plus 250-kWh battery storage project at the Hengjaya Mine.
The managing director of Nickel Industries Ltd., Justin Werner stated, “It is estimated this solar project could supply up to 20 per cent of HNI and RNI’s current electricity requirements and in doing so account for a material reduction in annual CO2 emissions.” This project is one the proof of commitment from Nickel Industries Ltd. to produce green nickel and lower their carbon footprints.
By: Valencia Octaviani