Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggar (ANTARA) - A church building in Ende City, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, stands strong.

The church was built of different brick materials. They are gray and slightly heavier, but when attached to the wall and put together with other stones, they become orderly.

The stones were interlocking bricks, an innovation for construction materials that are made of ashes from burned coal in the form of Fly Ash and Bottom Ash (FABA) at the Ropa Coal-Fired Power Plant in Ende.

Santo Donatus Bhoanawa at Ende is the first church in Indonesia to use interlocking bricks from FABA as construction materials.

Father Domi Nong, a Parish Priest of the Santo Donatus Bhoanawa Church, told ANTARA that he had received assistance of 52 thousand interlocking bricks produced at the Ropa Power Plant for the construction of the church. Some 60 percent of the materials used for the church's construction used the bricks recycled from coal waste.

"The ratio is 60:40. Hence, 40 percent of (the materials) are ordinary bricks, as (the construction) began in 2020 before knowing the existence of interlocking bricks. Now, everyone uses these bricks from FABA," Father Nong remarked.

When he received information regarding the brick innovation by state electricity firm PT PLN, Father Nong rushed to ready a proposal for construction assistance and departed for Maumere in Sikka District to meet with PLN's Generator Implementation Unit (UPK) Manager Flores Lambok Siregar.

The proposal was approved by PLN. In fact, the entire cost of transporting interlocking bricks from the Ropa Power Plant to Ende City was paid by PLN. Not only for building churches, but the interlocking bricks were also for renovating residents' homes in the parish environment.

Father Nong never stopped to praise the innovation of FABA. The bricks were sturdy and strong. The installation of FABA interlocking bricks also requires the skill of attention to detail.

In addition, Father Nong noted that the empty space on the inside of the brick stones would later be filled with mixed adhesive liquid. The mixture of liquids contained in the brick cavity replaces the "sloof". Moreover, the bricks affixed onto the wall look orderly even without plaster.

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For green energy

The transition to sustainable green energy is one of the main agendas during the 2022 Indonesian G20 Presidency.

With the main theme "Recover Together, Recover Stronger," Indonesia's position and role in this year's G20 are crucial in encouraging the goals of energy transition that is affordable, easy-to-access, and real.

The use of FABA has economic value that protects the environment. PLN UPK Flores manager Siregar remarked that FABA has been excluded from the list of B3 waste as stipulated in Government Regulation No. 22 of 2021 on the implementation of environmental protection and management.

Hence, PLN has formulated a program in utilizing FABA through the innovation of interlocking bricks.

Chairman of the Indonesian Renewable Energy Society Surya Darma once remarked that FABA can bolster the development of the new renewable energy sector. Indonesia has also targeted to achieve a 23-percent share of new renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2025.

Before widening the use of FABA, PLN UPK Flores had conducted a trial to create interlocking bricks and paving blocks in the laboratory of the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology. The results of the trial stated that the interlocking bricks have met the Indonesian National Standard (SNI).

The use of interlocking bricks in the construction process can save 40 percent of the cost of building a house as compared to using ordinary materials, as they do not require plastering. In addition, interlocking bricks eliminate the use of other materials, such as cement and sand.

For using FABA interlocking bricks, the cost for a simple house or type 36 comprising two rooms as well as toilet and washing facilities amounts to Rp25 million. FABA allows people to build small homes at an affordable cost.

FABA has several other benefits, such as being used as a mixture of materials for highways, breakwaters, cement mixtures for building plastering, land stabilization, corrugated soil, and dredging swamps to mitigate the risk of landslides.

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Meanwhile, PLN utilizes FABA for two constructions in the East Nusa Tenggara region, which are for building or renovating houses, churches, and environmentally lean concrete parts of roads.

Ropa Coal-Fired Power Plant can produce 1,700 pieces of interlocking bricks daily. Currently, interlocking bricks from FABA have been successfully used to build churches, repair houses, and construct Indonesian Military service houses.

For the Ende region, FABA was used in building the Santo Donatus Bhoanawa Church, five units of residential homes, two units of Indonesian Military (TNI) housing facilities, and several lean concrete parts of roads.

Furthermore, some 340 tons of FABA was utilized in Maumere for revamping a naval base in Sikka in collaboration with the Maumere Naval. In addition, Sikka Military District Command conducted a renovation on six housing facilities of the TNI.

Moreover, PLN has signed a cooperation agreement with the Ende district government and the Archdiocese of Ende as a form to support the utilization of FABA.

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For the society

People keen to use FABA can file a request through the related institutions, and their applications will be forwarded to PLN. Siregar asserted that PLN will provide FABA for the community at no charge, as PLN does not trade it.

Father Nong, as one of the recipients of FABA assistance, viewed that PLN did not only put forward infrastructure development but also saw the social value contained in PLN's efforts to help the community through the use of FABA products.

According to Nong, PLN prioritizes human and social values, such as gotong royong or working together. The work of renovating homes for poor people was a proof of solidarity, he affirmed.

"People's awareness was also awakened to give to each other," he stated.

PLN, as a FABA provider, seriously aims for sustainability. Hence, since 2021, the utilization of FABA did not begin in the use of materials, as PLN firstly improved the capacity of human resources.

It trained the community to master the technique of using interlocking bricks and how to produce bricks as well as build houses from FABA.

PLN also supports the formation of FABA-based micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). On February 5, 2022, PLN and the Archdiocese of Ende inaugurated the FABA-Based Brick Industry MSME in Ende.

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Translator: Fransiska N, Kenzu T
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2022