The Department of Energy (DOE) strongly urged geothermal energy firms to develop 138 geothermal areas in the country, which are mostly in the northwest sector of Luzon.
“There are 145 geothermal areas in the country, while only 7 fields are in operation. We want these potential capacities to be developed and we need your support as a national organization to further explore the potential of geothermal energy in the country,” DOE Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said during the two-day Philippine International Geothermal Conference which concluded last Thursday.
This year, three geothermal energy projects are under construction and expected to be online by December. These are the 17-megawatt (MW) Tiwi Binary Geothermal Power Plant, 29 MW Palayan Binary Power Plant, and 2MW Biliran Geothermal Power Plant.
The remaining 5.6 Bago Binary Geothermal Power Plant and the 20MW Tanawon Geothermal Power Plant, meanwhile, will be online by 2024.
There is also a total of 381 MW potential capacity from projects that are undergoing pre-feasibility studies, added Guevara.
The Philippines has been developing geothermal power since the 1970s and has been the second largest producer of geothermal energy in world until Indonesia outranked the country in 2018. Currently, the Philippines is considered as the third largest producer, next to Indonesia and the United States.
The development and utilization of geothermal energy slowed down since 2007 and only 86 MW was added despite the enactment of the Republic Act 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.
Despite of the slowdown in the development of geothermal energy, its contribution to the country’s power requirement remains strong as it provides 10,000 gigawatt hours, Guevara pointed out.
“The bottomline here is that we are confident that RE [renewable energy] development in the Philippines is accelerating and we will meet our targets. But we cannot do it alone. We need the expertise and innovation of our RE developers, particularly the geothermal energy developers.
This path to greener geothermal generation will have its challenges, but it is a path that we will walk together so we can build a future when clean energy is not just a necessity, but a legacy of responsible stewardship for generations to come,” added Guevara.
The DOE, for its part, has implemented projects to accelerate the development of geothermal energy. These, she said, are meant to assess the economic feasibility of small-scale geothermal power projects for local power needs and prepare the comprehensive data package showcasing the type of geothermal resource for future private investor participations.
In a recent study titled “Geothermal Play Fairway Analysis —the Department’s New Tool for Geothermal Exploration,” which was produced by the DOE and the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy and funded by the US Department of State, Guevara said the northwest sector of Luzon Island was selected as one of the “most promising” geothermal areas.
The results of Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) over northwest Luzon could open a new door of opportunities for the geothermal future of the Philippines, she said. A PFA is a resource assessment tool that uses geological, geochemical, and geophysical data which aims to reduce geothermal exploration risk and identify the most prospective areas for further exploration and development.
Geothermal energy is a form of RE produced by heat from the earth. It is considerably safer than most other energy sources. Unlike fossil fuel plants, geothermal power does not produce greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.