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Philippines Government Pushes Geothermal, Strong 2013 Outlook

Geothermal development in the Philippines looks to continue strong in 2013, and if its government, including the DoE's geothermal energy management division, has its way the Philippines will be the largest producer of geothermal energy in just a few years. Currently only the United States produces more geothermal energy than the Pacific nation.

"To be the largest producer of geothermal energy is our plan until 2030,” Ariel D. Fronda, chief of the division told the nation’s Business World Online. To do this, “[w]e will be needing around 1,405 MW additional capacity by 2030,” or an increase of around 75% by 2030.

A possible channel of added geothermal support could be an expansion of the feed-in tariff (FIT) system, which was approved in 2012 for hydro, biomass, wind, and solar, and ocean thermal, but not for geothermal energy. The National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP) is looking to see an extension of the FIT to new, developmental, and unconventional geothermal projects. “The NGAP will propose this to the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), then the board will evaluate the application and consider if it has bearing,” NGAP Director Ariel D. Fronda told Bworldonline.com. “The investments will flow because there will be FIT rate already, so the investors will surely profit from the development of the unconventional resources,” he added.

One emerging development was discussed by President Rene Escalona Puno of the local company Clean Rock Renewable Energy Resources Corp. with Manila Standard Today. The company won 2009 bids on the Natib and the Daklan geothermal prospects in Bataan and Benguet provinces and now plans to pursue geothermal development there. “The reserves estimates indicate the field has a potential to support a 50-megawatt development provided sufficient permeability is encountered in future wells,” Clean Rock papers said.

Meanwhile, an expiration date looms in May 2013 for the steam sales agreement between Aboitiz Power Corp and Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings, which operates the 289-megawatt (MW) Tiwi plants in Albay and the 458-MW MakBan facilities in Laguna and Batangas. If a new deal is not reached, Tiwi-MakBan’s steam pricing will be pushed to P2.80 per kilowatt-hour or 74% higher than current cost, based on the coal-indexed geothermal resource supply contract, noted Abscbnnews.com.

This article was originally published in GEA's Geothermal Weekly and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Philippines flag via Shutterstock

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Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.

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