Pushing for sustainability

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Malampaya Gas Field

Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the modern world today. At the recently concluded 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, talks on climate change were among the top priorities.

This is because, in addition to contributing to catastrophes such as wildfires, rising sea levels, flooding, and supercharged storms, climate change poses a real risk towards world development. The global financial industry for one is looking at environmental issues in investment decisions. Fossil fuels are becoming a topic of heated debate, as consumers become ever more critical of high-carbon industries.

The growing unease with the use of fossil fuels, coupled with legislative measures to mitigate the world’s carbon emissions, presents a conundrum. How can the world transition from relying on carbon-intensive fuels like coal and oil to more sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives?

In the Philippines, at least, some companies are trying. Natural gas is seen globally as an effective means of transitioning to a world free from its dependence on oil and coal, and First Gen Corporation is doing its part to contribute. The company owns four of the five commercially active natural gas plants in the country and currently sources its natural gas from the country’s Malampaya Gas Field.

With proven reserves of about 2.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 85 million barrels of condensate, located some 3,000 meters below sea level, according to data from the Department of Energy (DoE), the Malampaya Gas Field is the biggest commercial gas discovery in the Philippines to date.


The Malampaya Gas Field produces 146 billion cubic feet of gas per year. First Gen’s four natural gas-fired power plants: the 1000-MW Santa Rita, the 500-MW San Lorenzo, as well as the 97-MW Avion peaking and 414-MW San Gabriel power plants have added significantly to First Gen’s portfolio of power assets since their commercial operations.

Natural gas emits 50 to 60% less carbon dioxide when combusted in power plants compared to coal, making it the cleanest among the fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, Energy Development Corporation is a global geothermal energy industry pioneer and the Philippines’ largest vertically-integrated geothermal developer, delivering 1,457.8MW of clean and renewable energy to the country. With almost 40 years in the geothermal business, EDC is among the pioneers of sustainable geothermal development to communities in the country.

Geothermal energy, produced by the natural heat of the earth, is among the cleanest sources of energy available. Geothermal plants harness that energy to generate electricity by injecting water deep underground to be extracted as steam which then drives a turbine on an electric power generator. The water returns and the process repeats, making it a completely renewable source of power.

The Aboitiz Group, which counts as among the country’s leaders in energy, is also doing its part to pave the way towards a Philippines powered by renewable energy. AboitizPower is the country’s second-largest renewable company and is the pioneer in run-of-river hydro as an energy source.

“Leveraging our expertise in this area, we are building up products and services under our Cleanergy brand. We also launched our rooftop solar venture AboitizPower Distributed Energy, Inc. (APX) in April 2018, providing our customers the option to self-generate their energy needs,” the company wrote in its 2018 Sustainability Report.

“We will continue to expand our generation portfolio of multi-fuel technology in our goal to drive down cost and improve efficiencies. Furthermore, we will continually explore both onshore and offshore acquisition opportunities where it makes sense,” it added.

And while the country fell short of its renewable energy targets that it set in 2011 with the Renewable Energy Act, the DoE announced that it will renew its efforts to push for sustainability, with the National Renewable Energy Board assisting in updating the country’s National Renewable Energy Program.Bjorn Biel M. Beltran