QUEZON CITY, July 1 (PIA) - Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi urged the department's key officials to mainstream geothermal renewable energy projects to diversify the country's energy sources and attain energy security.
In a videoconferencing with key officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) recently, Cusi directed his team to prepare a formal directive that would contain initiatives and guidelines on promoting geothermal energy development and increase its utilization, as said resource is indigenous to the country.
"I would like to issue an order to really look deeply and comprehensively into how we can develop geothermal. I have been really thinking about it, assessing how we are addressing renewable energy (RE)," Cusi told the officials.
Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy 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 (GHG) that are harmful to the environment.
The Philippines has more potential for geothermal energy development as it sits right along the Pacific Ring of Fire characterized by the abundance of volcanoes.
Based on a report of the DOE-Geothermal Energy Management Division, the Philippines is the third largest producer of geothermal energy in the world with a total installed capacity of 1,918 MW, following the lead of US and Indonesia, respectively.
Moreover, the Philippines continues to have the highest RE generation mix within the Southeast Asian region. In 2018, RE accounted for about 33.2% of our country's total primary energy supply.
The figure is already 10% ahead of the regional target set forth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation, which seeks to increase the RE component on the ASEAN total primary energy mix to 23% by the year 2025.
Since the enactment of RE Act of 2008, a 62MW capacity was added to the grid from the Nasulo Geothermal Power Plant in Negros Oriental with 30MW and Maibarara Geothermal Power Plant in Batangas with 32 MW.
In promoting RE, Cusi said it is best for the country to focus on the resources that are abundant available, and extend all the necessary support to encourage its development through innovative policies and strategies, citing Vietnam as an example on developing the strength of its hydro resources.
"They are very strong on hydro [resources] and that's what they are developing. They are giving priority to their hydro. It doesn't mean that they don't have the other sources, but they focused on the strength of this particular resource," he noted.
Cusi said geothermal resource may be an expensive enterprise and may take longer time to build, but it would be able to generate the kind of power that will help sustain the energy security of the Philippines in the long-term.
"This is the time to sit down and explore ways to support geothermal, because one installation will easily wipe out the 1,000MW installation of solar. I am for RE that would help improve the energy security of the country," Cusi pointed out.
To date, the DOE-Geothermal Energy Management Division is eyeing to develop an additional estimated capacity of 867MW within 5 to 7 years.
Once these contracts commence operation, they will significantly boost existing capacity of renewable energy to the grid and more communities will benefit from them including Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Cagayan, Compostela Valley, Biliran, Sorsogon, Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Laguna, Kalinga Apayao, Mindoro, Southern Leyte, Negros Oriental, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, and North Cotabato.
"Eto, proven na natin itong geothermal. Let's go for it and regain our previous global standing as one of the top countries in geothermal development," he said, noting that the Philippines used to be number one in the field. (MTQ/PIA-IDPD with additional information from DOE)