AT the height of the pandemic last year, geothermal leader Energy Development Corp. (EDC) set the bar higher by committing to forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future. Simply put, EDC has moved to decarbonize the business sector.
EDC generation portfolio is almost 1,500 megawatt (MW). Of which, 1,181 MW is baseload geothermal, providing stable and reliable power at all hours of the day. EDC calls it Geo 24/7.
“The mission of EDC calls for us to go beyond sustainability by looking at our business as more than just profit engines as we elevate everything we touch—be it the environment; our co-creators that include our employees, and contractors; our communities, customers and investors,” said EDC President Richard Tantoco.
He said there are three major strategies that companies can implement to respond to the United Nation’s climate warning and, at the same time, to future-proof their businesses.
First is to stop supporting coal—the largest source of global warming.
Second is to be an enabler of decarbonization.
Lastly, Tantoco urged everyone to make businesses carbon neutral.
He cited the recommendation of the World Resources Institute for countries to phase out coal in electricity generation five times faster.
“To do this, institutions and businesses need to put their foot down and say no to coal. The good news is that more nations, institutions, and companies around the world have already made this bold declaration,” Tantoco said.
Shut door on coal
EDC’s parent firm, First Gen Corp., had declared as early as 2016 that it was shutting its door on coal power even if this meant walking away from opportunities to make a profit.
Four years later, the Department of Energy (DOE) declared a moratorium on new coal power projects.
In the global scene, Globally, the Group of Seven (G7) nations pledged to end support for coal power by end of this year.
Global banks, insurers, pension funds, asset managers have also committed to exit coal as of 2020.
Tantoco pointed out that without funding, coal companies would then have no choice but to transition to renewable energy (RE) if they want to stay in business.
As Rep. Loren Legarda commented in August on the IPCC Working Group I’s assessment report “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” laws and key policies are already in place to pave the way for businesses to work toward decarbonization.
“Digital technology is key to decarbonizing various industries. For instance, we realized that Zooming or doing meetings through Zoom, which has inadvertently become a huge part of our daily work since the pandemic started last year, will help us travel less once this health crisis ends,” said Tantoco.
An hour of videoconferencing emits between 150 and 1,000 grams of CO2. By comparison, a car emits about 8,887 grams from burning one gallon of gasoline, Tantoco explained.
Apart from technologies, green financing is one of the biggest enablers in decarbonizing the global economy.
For instance, Tantoco noted that six of the world’s top lenders have banded together through a collective climate-aligned finance agreement to decarbonize the steel sector, which produces 1.8 tons of CO2 for every ton of steel.
Also this year, the first tranche to be issued out of EDC’s P15 billion worth of Asean Green Bonds shelf registration was 10x oversubscribed. Tantoco said the growing level of interest from investors in green projects are paving the way for companies to make that bold commitment to take a stand for the environment and to work toward carbon neutrality.
The power market is indeed constantly changing. The DOE has put in place policies meant to encourage RE investments. These include the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA), and soon the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP).
The RPS mandate requires all electric and distribution utilities to increase the use of renewable energy by 1 percent each year beginning in 2020 until 2030.
Retail electricity through RCOA—those with an average of at least 500 kilowatt (kW) of electricity consumption—and soon, through the GEOP will give customers a choice.
GEOP allows electricity end-users with an average of 100kW and above to choose RE as their source of energy from power generators with Retail Electricity Supplier and GEOP licenses.
EDC is one of the first in the country to be given a GEOP license that will soon enable the company to provide the same Geo 24/7 to consumers with at least 100kW of average electricity consumption once the guidelines are released and the DOE gives the green light for the program.
Geothermal energy has proven to be a more reliable source of energy, especially when compared to other renewable sources like solar, wind or hydro—which are more intermittent sources and thus require energy storage for longer use.
EDC’s 1,181-MW geothermal portfolio accounts for 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity, putting the Philippines on the map as the third-largest geothermal producer in the world.
In particular, the Visayas region is home to the country’s two largest 24/7 geothermal facilities, which are EDC’s Leyte and Negros geothermal sites.
The Philippines has been blessed with abundant geothermal resources, which EDC has been harnessing for 45 years now.
According to Atty. Allan V. Barcena, head, Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations, EDC has been sustaining its Geo 24/7 by planting, growing, and maintaining lush forests in its geothermal watersheds, which comprise about 1 percent of the country’s total land area. Also, EDC has already reforested close to 10,000 hectares in its geothermal areas, with over 6 million BINHI seedlings planted.
With EDC’s massive reforestation efforts through its BINHI program, EDC has become a carbon-negative company, meaning the minimal CO2 produced is offset by all the CO2 absorbed by the reforested watersheds.
“Generating power from 100-percent RE sources and taking care of 270,000 hectares of forests in our geothermal reservations have made our operations carbon negative.
“As we work to maintain this status, we know that we can’t save the planet on our own.
For this reason, we fulfill our mission by helping our stakeholders take concrete steps towards becoming carbon neutral,” EDC Tantoco asserted.
He was referring to the Net Zero Carbon Alliance, which EDC is spearheading.
Atty. Barcena explained the Net Zero Carbon program in a nutshell: It is strategically developed to provide partners with a road map to attain carbon neutrality through the sharing of best practices and scaling up of carbon emission offsetting and tracking, as well as assistance in obtaining third-party certification of carbon emissions and offsets, and even access to “green” financing, among many other capacity-building tools.
EDC’s guidance will be primarily based on its experience as a carbon-negative company through its 100-percent RE operations and protection and restoration of the forests within its geothermal projects sites. With EDC’s established decarbonization mechanisms, partners can adopt these practices and leverage them toward carbon offsetting and sequestration.
Attaining carbon neutrality is just a transition, Atty. Barcena explained, since the end goal is having net zero emissions by 2050. Tantoco pointed out, meanwhile, the need “to honor anyone who makes a firm commitment to be a part of the solution instead of contributing to our climate crisis.”
The companies that have committed to walk down the same path to carbon neutrality with EDC are Arthaland, Drink Communications, First Balfour, Knowles Electronics, Rockwell Land, SGV, Silliman University, and Unilever.
EDC’s goal, stressed Tantoco, is to collaborate with like-minded companies, organizations, and individuals that share a genuine commitment to inclusive growth and environmental restoration so they can all go beyond sustainability and do more together.