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Aggressive ambition is key to triggering the third wave of geothermal development in the Philippines

Joeffrey Caranto, President of NGAP, at the opening of the 1st PGC, Manila (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Carlo Cariaga 2 Oct 2019

To bring on the third wave of geothermal development in the Philippines, the local geothermal community will need more aggressive ambition and go beyond what's conventional

With the theme of “Beyond Conventional: Tapping New Geothermal Frontiers”, a message of ambition and innovation was the thread that connected the different speeches and presentations during the first day of the 1st Philippine Geothermal Conference at the Marquis Event Place, Taguig, Metro Manila.

Organized by the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP), the 1st PGC has become the first conference in the Philippines to gather geothermal industry leaders and experts to share their knowledge and experience in tapping “non-conventional” geothermal sources.

Joeffrey Caranto, President of NGAP, opened the ceremonies by recounting the history of the geothermal industry in the Philippines. Since the late 1970’s, the Philippines has enjoyed an impressive growth in geothermal power production capacity, spurred by rich geothermal resources and the technical expertise of New Zealand’s KRTA.

However, after two waves of successful growth, the country is now experiencing a stagnation – growing their capacity by only 72 MW in the last 10 years and yielding the second spot in the global geothermal capacity rankings to Indonesia just this year.

Richard Tantoco, President and COO of Energy Development Corporation, said that the local geothermal industry had “no one to blame but themselves” for the lack of growth. With other renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries dropping in cost, geothermal energy will become obsolete if they don’t change the way they do things.

In the part of EDC, Tantoco cited how their efforts in the past years have reduced drilling costs by 46% and reduced the downtime due to preventive maintenance from 63 days to 18 days – resulting in up to Php700 million in additional net income to the company.

Part of the efforts of the geothermal community to innovate is to come up with ways to tap into “non-conventional” geothermal resources. Caranto cited low-temperature systems, systems with acid fluids, and hot dry rock systems  as typical examples.

“The Philippines is one of the top 3 countries most vulnerable to climate change, yet coal comprises 52% of our energy mix.” added Tantoco. “We have the duty to do things better. Be bold – experiment and innovate.”