One Country’s Dream of EV-Driven Prosperity Helps Fuel a Coal Binge Instead – by Jon Emont (Wall Street Journal – February 4, 2024)

Indonesia pitches its plan to leverage natural resources as a model for other developing nations

A few years ago, Indonesia set out to turn its treasure trove of nickel into an electric-car manufacturing boom.It imposed a sweeping ban on the export of raw nickel.

That meant that companies wanting to tap the world’s largest source of the mineral—used in the most powerful type of EV batteries—would have to build smelters in Indonesia. Officials bet that factories to make EV batteries and entire electric cars would also follow, spawning end-to-end supply chains close to the mineral bounty.

The smelters came, and Indonesia’s nickel industry witnessed explosive growth. But powering it is a coal binge that is throwing off the country’s climate goals. And Indonesians are still waiting for EV makers to lay down production lines.

As President Joko Widodo prepares to leave office this year after a decade—the most he can serve—he is exhorting his potential successors to stick with the policy that is at the center of his economic legacy. Indonesia holds presidential elections on Feb. 14, and a new leader will take charge in October.

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