PH drops in geothermal ranking

By Alena Mae S. Flores – October 02, 2019 at 07:50 pm

Indonesia eclipsed the Philippines as the world’s second largest geothermal producer behind the United States, according to the Energy Department.

The Energy Department said the country should develop geothermal sources beyond the conventional to bring back the Philippines as the second largest geothermal producer.

“For the Philippines to attain additional geothermal capacities, we must look into sources that are beyond conventional like medium to low-enthalpy and acidic geothermal energy source,”  Energy Assistant Secretary Robert Uy said in a speech before the Philippine International Geothermal Conference organized by the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines.

The Philippines, the perennial world’s second largest geothermal power producer, now slipped to the third place after Indonesia and the US.

“Even with the very large potential of the country in terms of geothermal resources, there are still glaring reasons for the decline in geothermal investments: lack of potential investors who are willing to take the risk, unattractive incentives package compared to other countries, a privatized energy sector and tedious permitting processes,”

Uy said.Uy said the department would study how the government sector could provide assistance to the development of such sources through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

Geothermal leader Energy Development Corp. called for “innovation”  to revitalize the geothermal industry and bring the Philippines back to the second spot.

“I think the call to the industry is really to innovate, to learn how to… tackle old problems in the very new way because I think it’s very possible. When you innovate, we can actually bring down the cost overtime,” EDC president Richard Tantoco said.

NGAP president Jeff Caranto said there was no significant development in the geothermal industry over the past 15 years.

“If you look at our energy mix, you cannot find other renewable that is baseload other than hydro and geo. We want to revitalize the industry.  We want to put together a new history for geothermal development at least for the third wave of development in geothermal by looking into non-conventional,” he said.

He said conventional energy resources, specifically high-temperature systems remained expensive and far-flung.  Permits were also very difficult to obtain, he said.

“If you look at non-conventional, low-temp, they’re closer to communities, lower elevation areas. Economically, they are easier to develop but capacities are relatively lower,” Caranto said.

He said there was a need to impose tariffs on medium to low-enthalpy geothermal resources.

“What we’re doing is we are advocating with the DOE to come up with some sort of regulations or incentives that will also help the industry. The other is implementation of other RE initiatives, especially green pricing and RPS (renewable energy portfolio standards)” Caranto said.