Gov’t aiming for top spot in geothermal production

Posted on December 26, 2012

THE GOVERNMENT wants the country to be the world’s largest producer of geothermal energy by increasing its installed capacity to 3,307 megawatts (MW) from 1,902 MW by 2030, an official of the Department of Energy (DoE) has said.

"To be the largest producer of geothermal energy is our plan until 2030. Since we already have 1,902 MW of installed capacity and our target is to reach 3,307 MW by 2030, we will be needing around 1,405 MW additional capacity by 2030," Ariel D. Fronda, chief of the DoE’s geothermal energy management division, said in a phone interview. "This means an increase of around 75% by 2030. This plan is part of the renewable energy program, which in turn is part of the Philippine Energy Plan of 2012 to 2030," Mr. Fronda added.

The country is the second largest geothermal producer in the world next to the United States.

DoE Undersecretary Josefina Patricia M. Asirit said the country’s huge potential can make it number one.

"Over a span of just three and a half decades, the Philippines became the second largest geothermal energy producer in the world next to the US. We produce around 1,783 MW of energy under this sector, while the US has 3,215 MW production," Ms. Asirit said in a separate interview.

She noted that Indonesia, Mexico and Italy are also among the top five geothermal energy producers with 1,136 MW, 958 MW, and 915 MW in output, respectively.

Asked for the amount of investment needed to reach the goal, Mr. Fronda said each megawatt needed costs around $3 million to $5 million.

"The investment cost is around $3 million to $5 million per MW, if you include the studies. Figures change depending on the situation," Mr. Fronda said.

Mr. Fronda said the department has set a plan until 2030 for the exploration, utilization and development of geothermal resources in the country.

"We have set a roadmap to reach that goal. We are continuously conducting inventory of low temperature geothermal potential areas which can be developed. We have already identified some areas in Romblon and Sorsogon," he said.

He added that the department has been continuously conducting consultations and dialogues to establish social acceptability and address environmental concerns related to geothermal projects.

Besides these, the DoE is also looking at establishing geothermal training centers and continuing the study to identify areas that can be developed. "We also have programs on the optimization and improvement of geothermal power plant. We are doing studies on how power plants can generate higher capacities, and also, maintain the plants so that they won’t be decommissioned," Mr. Fronda said.

The DoE is optimistic that it will reach the target, given the country’s huge potential in the development of geothermal energy resources.

"Right now, we have committed projects until 2015 and we have lots of pending contracts that we are studying right now," Mr. Fronda said, adding that the DoE was expecting to award these contracts by next year. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano