The Indonesian Parliament has passed a long-awaited law to tap the power of scores of volcanoes possessed the country for producing geothermal energy.

Made up of thousands of islands stretching from the Indian to the Pacific Oceans, Indonesia is home to some 130 volcanoes and is estimated to hold around 40 percent of the world's geothermal potential.
However, it only takes advantage of a tiny fraction of its energy and lags far behind others such as the United States and the neighbouring Philippines.

Indonesia is estimated to have more than 28,000 megawatts of geothermal potential but is currently producing just over 1,300 MW of its electricity.

The new law regulates that exploration for geothermal energy and development of plants is no longer considered mining.

It also stipulates higher price for geothermal electricity, following complaints from producers that the price was not enough to cover their production cost.

High cost has long been one of the major obstacles of developing volcano power. A geothermal plant costs about twice as much as a coal-fired power station, and can take many more years in research and development to get online.

But once established, geothermal plants can generate electricity with much lower operating cost and less pollution in comparison with thermal power stations.

Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also focused on geothermal as part of his plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020.

The government hopes the new law will speed up the development of the geothermal sector.
Indonesia is the world's third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter due its use of dirty fuels to produce electricity and to rampant deforestation.-VNA