PT. Trinusa Energi Indonesia is planning to build the Kluet hydropower dam within the Leuser Ecosystem in South Aceh Regency, with a capacity of 180 megawatts to increase electricity supply in Aceh and North Sumatra. The project will be developed under a consortium between Indonesia and China, with a total investment up to 5.6 trillion Rupiah.
The Kluet peatland, along with the Singkil peatland and the connecting lowland rainforests, comprise the Singkil-Bengkung region of the Leuser Ecosystem. This region is under threat from palm oil expansion, new roads, and other destructive projects like the Kluet hydropower dam.
This mega project will be built in a protected forest area that ranges from the mountains to the sub-districts of Meukek, Sawang, Samadua, Tapaktuan, and Central Kluet. The total project area reaches 443.79 hectares. In addition to protected forests, the construction of this hydropower plant will use 19.34 hectares of land designated for other uses (APL).
PT. Trinusa Energi Indonesia recently secured a permit from the Aceh Forestry Agency for a geological survey on the protected forest areas. But, in fact, this company has already started to cut trees on riverbanks for a basecamp and a helicopter landing, and has also begun drilling rocks.
The project site is located in the Upper Kluet region of the Leuser Ecosystem, a globally important carbon sink. The rainforests of this region, and the rivers that run through them, play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological integrity of the Kluet watershed, including the Kluet peatland. Deforestation risks permanently damaging the flow and quality of water in the region upon which many local communities depend. Destruction of the Kluet peatland will result in severe climate pollution and changes to its hydrological function, leading to flooding of community lands in the rainy season and water shortages in the dry season.
Mega projects backed by corporations that threaten the Leuser Ecosystem, and the biodiversity and communities that depend on it, should never be developed inside the Leuser Ecosystem. Instead, efforts and investments are needed in community-based, micro hydro development which can give direct benefits to communities, or clean energy options such as solar and wind.