Philippines geothermal community anxiously waiting for new wave of development

Steam pipes at Mount Apo, Mindanao Philippines (source: flickr/ penmanila)
Alexander Richter 19 Sep 2019

The geothermal community is waiting for a third wave of geothermal development building on the leading role the country had in geothermal power generation in the global context.

With dropping geothermal power generation capacity from 1,850 MW to about 1,600 MW the Philippines has lost the second place in the Top 10 rankings of countries with geothermal power generation, as recently reported by Power Philippines.

Commenting on the situation, Jeoffrey Aban Caranto, President of National Geothermal Association of the Philippines, described that the initial wave of geothermal development in the 1980s put the country on the world map and as one of the powerhouses of the geothermal energy sector worldwide. Another wave of development happened in the 1990s. Now, the sector is anxiously awaiting a third wave.

“When the renewable energy law was passed in 2008, we were really hoping that it would pave the way to the third wave of geothermal development,” so Caranto.

Some of the factors of growth were the Renewable Energy law, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. The latter, put geothermal exploration and development into the hands of the private sector, as previously that was managed by the government.

With the high cost of exploration for development, this step to leave development in the hands o the private sector, might have contributed to the slow decline in development.

Other factors also contributed to the slow growth, among them the decrease in tariffs, reduction in oil prices and concerns by indigenous peoples in areas for geothermal development.

So while a lot of industry players have paved the way for exploration of other geothermal areas, there continues to be little development.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy law in 2008, only one new project was successfully concluded. The project was the 32 MW Maibarara geothermal power plant, so Caranto.

“Our hope is that the industry will continue to move forward to new resources, especially here in the Philippines,” he said.

Last year, the Department of Energy spearheaded the revival of geothermal explorations as the department aims to increase the country’s energy capacity.

This and much more will likely be part of next month’s 1st Philippines Geothermal Conference of the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines, 2-3 October 2019 in Manila, Philippines.

Source: Power Philippines