Coal fired power plant near conservation areas in Pacitan, East Java, Indonesia

Complaints about decline of fisheries, coal dust and killing of turtles around the 630 MW Chinese financed power plant in Pacitan.


The 630-megawatt Pacitan coal-fired power plant began construction in 2007 and started working in 2013. There are many complaints about coal dust and air contamination [3]. Local fishermen say their catch has fallen dramatically since the project was launched, forcing them to fish much further offshore. People whose livelihoods have suffered say they have not received sufficient compensation, and that the plant offers little in terms of alternative employment for locals. Misnadi,   head of the Sumberejo Fishermen’s Group, said: “We fishermen demanded 6 million rupiah ($451) per year in compensation,” explaining that they planned to divide the compensation among three groups of forty fishermen each [2]. The power plant has changed the map for the fishermen, compromising their livelihood. As fishermen grew frustrated, their positioning towards the power plant became increasingly tense. In hopes of avoiding conflict, the subdistrict leadership forum contacted Misnadi. “I told them we are trying to earn a living, so even if we’re being shot at, we’ll do it anyway,” he said. “In the end we came up with a shift system. When the project people are working, we don’t go fishing. When they stop working, we go fishing.” Despite that agreement, fishermen are reluctant to fish in the area. “The power plant has limited our activities,” Misnadi said. “We can’t cast our nets, there are ships going everywhere, it’s not pleasant. … In the end, the fishermen avoid the area.” For Misnadi, the Kondang Bay is his main source of livelihood. To earn as much as he did before the plant was built, Misnadi now has to sail further into the bay, often traveling up to 25 miles  offshore in search of fish and shrimp. But finding a new place to fish is not a simple matter of steering his boat to more fruitful waters. Misnadi also has to navigate the unwritten rules of the local fishing communities, which dictate that fishermen from one area are not at liberty to fish in waters traditionally harvested by other communities. [ 2]. Moreover, there is damage to turtles.   Fuel for the Pacitan coal-fired power plant is brought by sea-going barges, which pass through turtle breeding areas. Conservation areas near the power plant provide nesting sites for green, hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles. Local conservationists say the presence of coal barges — and several spills — reduces the number of hatchlings. Villagers say the river near the power plant is now empty of the fish and shrimp that once formed a regular part of the local diet. [1]

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Basic Data
Name Coal fired power plant near conservation areas in Pacitan, East Java, Indonesia
ProvinceEast Java Province
SiteSudimoro District, Pacitan Regency
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral processing
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPacitan Power Plant a 630-megawatt

The two 315 MW units went into commercial operation in 2011.

PLN received US$293 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China to finance the Pacitan plant.

The fuel supply for the Pacitan Power Plant comes from the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatera. Barges laden with coal pass through the Bali Strait then hug Java’s southern coast, passing through Trenggalek before finally arriving in Pacitan. Data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources shows that in order to fulfill the Pacitan Power Plant’s need for 2.3 million tons of coal annually, the barges must make at least 20 – 30 trips each month. If they follow the easiest, most direct route, these vessels pass right through sea turtle nesting areas in the southern shores of Pacitan and Trenggalek. |1].

Despite discontent from locals, the plant has always enjoyed government support. It was built in accordance with a 2006 presidential decree that aimed to reduce Indonesia’s dependence on oil, largely by increasing the use of coal for energy generation from 15.7% to more than 33 percent. The plan called for 10,000 megawatts of new power plants to be built by 2009 in the country, among them the 630-megawatt facility at Pacitan. In 2007, the cornerstone for the project was laid by then-Minster of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro. Operations and maintenance of the Pacitan power plant is managed by PT Jawa Bali Power Plant Business Unit Operations & Maintenance Services, a subsidiary of government-owned electric company PLN.

By 2017, coal makes up around 57 percent of the energy mix in Indonesia, the world’s top thermal coal exporter, with consumption expected to reach 101 million tonnes this year.
Level of Investment (in USD)293,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesPerusahaan Listrik Negara (PT PLN Persero) from Indonesia
International and Financial InstitutionsExport-Import Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSumberejo Fishermen’s Group.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts, Air pollution, Waste overflow
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
OtherDamage to turtles
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Accidents
OtherCoal dust
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
OtherDamage to fisheries.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The coal fired power plant is in operation.
Sources and Materials

[1] Efforts to conserve sea turtles disrupted by coal plant in East Java. 31 January 2017.
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Global Energy Observatory
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PLN to secure $761m in loans from Chinese banks in June
[click to view]

[2] Pacitan villagers say coal plant reduced livelihoods, brought little new employment
[click to view]

[3]In response to pollution complaints, a coal plant in Indonesia offered soap and mops. by Nuswantoro on 1 February 2017 |
[click to view]

Other Documents

Environmental activist Papang Wida Kristianto overlooks the Pacitan coal-fired power plant. Source: Nuswantoro (
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Misnadi (left), one of the fishermen affected by the coal plant is the former leader of the Sumberejo Fishermen’s Group. Photo by Nuswantoro (
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSM y JMA (ICTA-UAB)
Last update20/10/2017