‘Geo­ther­mal is risky’

Muscat Daily - - OPINION -

The Philip­pine govern­ment launched in June a string of new ex­plo­ration sur­veys, which comes on top of the roughly ten con­tracts the na­tion has signed in re­cent years with power com­pa­nies to drill ex­ploratory wells.

“Of course the tar­get is to in­crease the ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity,” Ariel Fronda, head of the re­new­ables di­vi­sion of the Philip­pine En­ergy Min­istry said.

“There is a high de­gree of in­ter­est in re­new­ables in gen­eral... En­ergy has sud­denly be­come an at­trac­tive busi­ness,” he added.

The Philip­pines’ seven geo­ther­mal fields now sup­ply about 12 per cent of the na­tion’s en­ergy, with a long-term plan to nearly dou­ble ca­pac­ity by 2040.

The Philip­pines has the fifth­largest geo­ther­mal re­serves, be­hind only the United States, In­done­sia, Ja­pan and Kenya.

Though nom­i­nally free, find­ing the re­source is an ex­pen­sive en­ter­prise, with ex­plo­ration wells cost­ing up to US$8mn each with no guar­an­tee of suc­cess.

“Geo­ther­mal is that risky,” said Fronda, with the govern­ment re­quir­ing at least two wells per pri­vate ex­plo­ration project in or­der to more ac­cu­rately es­ti­mate the yield of a site.

The ef­fort to stoke up the na­tion’s geo­ther­mal en­gine largely pre-dates the ar­rival of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

How­ever, last year he cre­ated an en­ergy in­vest­ment coun­cil that can green­light ma­jor new projects in 30 days. A geo­ther­mal ex­plo­ration ef­fort is among the four ini­tia­tives it has ap­proved.

Though the Philip­pines has tum­bled, it still can be an im­por­tant player in geo­ther­mal, said David Liv­ingston, a re­new­able en­ergy ex­pert with the US-based At­lantic Coun­cil think­tank. “The Philip­pines can serve as a cat­a­lyst for other de­vel­op­ing na­tions’ in­ter­est in geo­ther­mal, par­tic­u­larly if its new­est... pro­grammes prove suc­cess­ful,” he added.


This file photo shows steam com­ing out from cool­ing tow­ers of the Maibarara Geo­ther­mal plant in Santo To­mas, Batan­gas, south of Manila on Au­gust 3


This file photo shows the wa­ter pipes of the Maibarara Geo­ther­mal plant in Santo To­mas, Batan­gas, south of Manila on Au­gust 3

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