THE Philippines is expected to become the fourth-largest global producer of geothermal energy over the next decade, according to a report by Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research.

Fitch said the Philippines is one of the world’s geothermal “outperformers,” with high levels of installed geothermal capacity.

“By 2029, we expect that the Philippines will have the fourth largest installed geothermal capacity in the world, behind only Indonesia, the USA, and Turkey,” it said.

“This will come mostly from the country’s strong existing geothermal capacity and forecast limited growth in the renewables sector,” it added.

The Philippines is expected to increase its geothermal capacity to 2,098 megawatts (MW) over the next decade, adding 170 MW to present capacity.

Fitch based its growth outlook on its current 12% share of clean energy in the generation mix, not counting hydropower.

“However, a high level of existing geothermal capacity means that geothermal power will supply just over 70.0% of the total renewable electricity generation during this time,” it added.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has said it is preparing an order to bolster geothermal development.

Eto, proven na natin itong geothermal (We have already proven the capability of geothermal energy). Let’s go for it and regain our previous global standing as one of the top countries in geothermal development,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

According to the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines, private companies find it difficult to pursue “numerous” underdeveloped geothermal energy sources because of the “high risk and capital-intensive nature of exploring and developing these areas and the absence of a guaranteed rate under the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system.”

Lopez-controlled Energy Development Corp. (EDC), the leading geothermal energy developer, expressed its support for the DoE’s initiative, saying that prioritizing renewables will “help the economy attract more companies and investors who are making the pivot toward sustainable and ‘green’ practices in their business operations.”

There has been an uptick in retail electricity market customers subscribing to geothermal energy observed in the past years, said Marvin S. Bailon, EDC’s head of business development, trading, and marketing.

The total share of renewable energy in the generation mix was 21% last year from 23.38% in 2018. — Adam J. Ang