Air quality impacts of the Banten-Suralaya complex

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Indonesia’s growth and development in recent years have seen it become the largest economy in Southeast Asia, yet this has come with a heavy price for the nation. While the fossil fuel driven power sector has expanded to meet the needs of this fourth most populated country in the world, so has poor air quality, profoundly affecting the nation’s health and economy by contributing to air pollution that reduces life expectancy by up to five years and costs Indonesia over USD 220 billion each year.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA)’s health impact assessment (HIA) of Indonesia’s Banten-Suralaya complex of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) located on the Indonesian island of Java finds that this complex has a devastating impact on public health and the economy.

Air pollution from the Banten-Suralaya complex reaches the cities of Serang, Cilegon and Jakarta, which has been subject to an air pollution crisis for years. Although the government has tried to downplay the contributions of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs), CREA analysis shows that fine particles (PM2.5) from nearby coal combustion contribute to Jakarta’s yearly spikes of air pollution, including from the Banten-Suralaya complex, with terrible consequences for populations all across northwestern Java. 

The coal combustion used in coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) like the Suralaya-Banten complex leads to air pollution consisting of fine particles (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3), all of which undergo dispersion across long distances and lead to illness in humans, ranging from chronic cough as experienced by Indonesia’s president, all the way to death. In Indonesia, the annual mean PM2.5 concentrations sometimes exceed 50 μg m-3, breaching the WHO guidelines annual limit of 5 μg m-3 by a factor of 10.

More specifically, the research in this health impact assessment (HIA) shows that the 6 GW Banten-Suralaya complex leads to annual mean PM2.5 concentrations of 0.2-0.4 μg m-3 in Jakarta and previous research shows that air pollution from CFPPs leads to thousands of deaths in the city of Jakarta and in the provinces of Jawa Barat and Banten, respectively.

CREA’s health impact assessment (HIA) finds that if national standards for coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) were enforced, air pollution would decrease, preventing 97–268 deaths and hundreds of emergency room visits, illnesses and work absences. These reductions in health damages would save the Indonesian economy IDR 0.940–2.6 trillion (USD 70–190 million).

However, if best available technology (BAT) for emissions controls were implemented at the Banten-Suralaya complex of CFPPs, annual mean PM2.5 concentrations drop to less than 0.2 μg m-3 and a maximum annual saving of 1,527 lives could be achieved. Implementing best available technology (BAT) could also prevent thousands of emergency room visits, hundreds of illnesses and hundreds of thousands of work absences per year. All of this translates into IDR 14.7 trillion (USD 1.08 billion) in terms of possible economic gains.


Source: CALPUFF model (Exponent, 2015) and health impact assessment (Myllyvirta, 2020)

Health-related economic damages (billion USD each year) of air pollution from the Banten-Suralaya complex

Key findings

  • Using the mean value from measurements (Base scenario), this study finds that the Banten-Suralaya complex located on the Indonesian island of Java in the Banten province leads to high levels of air pollution over a large and densely populated region, including annual-mean PM2.5 concentrations of 1.0 μg m-3 over the northern half of the Banten province, which has a population of 13 million people and includes Serang and Cilegon. 
  • The air pollution from the Banten-Suralaya complex has a devastating impact on public health and the economy, including the annual loss of 1,470 lives and health damages that cost USD 1.04 billion (IDR 14.2 trillion).
  • Using the maximum value from measurements (Base_Max scenario), this study finds that the impacts of the Banten-Suralaya complex increase further still, reaching annual deaths of 1,640 and health damages that cost USD 1.16 billion (IDR 15.8 trillion).
  • In the maximum value scenario (Base_Max scenario), the 1,640 deaths include 1,063 deaths caused by exposure to PM2.5 leading to deaths among the adult population due to stroke (401), ischaemic heart disease (365), lower respiratory infections (91), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (86), lung cancer (72), and diabetes (16), as well as in children under the age of 5, due to lower respiratory infections (8).
  • This study finds that, if the Banten-Suralaya complex achieves compliance with national standards (Compliance scenario), then the air pollution, human health, and economic impacts from this facility decrease.
  • This study finds that enforcing compliance will lead to annual savings of 97 human lives when compared to the scenario using the mean value from measurements (Base scenario), and 268 human lives when compared to the scenario using the maximum value from measurements (Base_Max scenario)
  • In addition to saving lives, achieving full compliance also leads to annual savings of 141–300  emergency room visits, 17–236 new asthma cases in children, 74–157 preterm births,  48–103 underweight births, and 59,000–125,000 work absences (Table A2). 
  • Air quality impacts reduce even further if air pollution control measures are installed (best available technology, BAT, scenario).
  • With the best available technologies (BAT) for air pollution installed in the Banten-Suralaya complex, this power station complex leads to annual mean PM2.5 concentrations of less than 0.2 μg m-3, the annual loss of 113 human lives, and annual damages of USD 50 million (IDR 700 billion). 
  • Compared to the scenario using the mean value from measurements (Base scenario), this corresponds to a 90 % reduction in air pollution mortality and economic burden, which equates to an annual saving of 1,357 lives and USD 960 million (IDR 13.1 trillion).
  • Compared to the scenario using maximum value from measurements (Base_Max scenario), this corresponds to an annual saving of 1,527 lives and USD 1.08 billion (IDR 14.7 trillion).
  • In addition to saving lives, implementing best available technology (BAT) would also lead to annual savings of 1,642–1,792 emergency room visits, 932–1,164 new asthma cases in children, 853–942 preterm births,  561–615 underweight births, and 680,000–746,000 work absences (Table A2). 
  • Enforcing compliance with national standards and implementing best available technology (BAT) for air pollution control measures have the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars each year.
  • Furthermore, continuous, transparent, and publicly available monitoring data would greatly improve decision-making by the government and Banten-Suralaya power station.
  • The only way to entirely eliminate the air quality burden of the Banten-Suralaya complex is by replacing it with renewable sources of energy.


Jamie Kelly, Air Quality Analyst, CREA; Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead Analyst, CREA; Vera Tattari, Analyst, CREA; Katherine Hasan, Analyst, CREA

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