Monday, 24 May 2010

RP seen to surpass US as geothermal producer

Dennis D. Estopace
Business Mirror

THE Philippines is expected to leap over the United States as the world’s top producer of geothermal power, according to a report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).

The report “Geothermal Energy: International Market Update” identified 70 countries with projects under development or active consideration, a 52-percent increase since 2007. “Projects under development grew the most dramatically in two regions of the world, Europe and Africa.”  

Nevertheless, “The [Philippine] government hopes to increase the on-line capacity to 3,100 megaWatts (MWs) within a decade and to surpass the US as the geothermal power production leader,” said the GEA report released Friday. The GEA report pegged the Philippines as the second-highest producer with 1,904 mWs. “Energy from geothermal power makes up approximately 18 percent of the country’s electricity generation.”

Of the top 24 countries the GEA report listed, the US leads in producing geothermal power with 3,086 MWs, followed by the Philippines and Indonesia (1,197mWs). Thailand is in the last spot, with only 0.3 MW installed capacity.

The GEA report said these countries increased power online by 20 percent since an International Geothermal Association (IGA) report in 2005. “With over 10,000 MWs installed, geothermal power is providing electricity worldwide to over 52 million people.”  

Citing Department of Energy data, the report noted the Philippines total estimated potential of untapped geothermal resource is about 2,600 MWs.

Notably, as much as 40 percent of the world’s geothermal potential is found not in the Philippines but in Indonesia, according to the report.

Citing BusinessMirror stories, the report noted the Energy department has as of April awarded bids for 8 out of 10 geothermal sites under the Philippine Energy Contracting Round. It noted, too, the department’s review of twogeothermal contract areas—Sta. Lourdes-Tagburos, Palawan, 1 MW, and Cagua-Baua, Cagayan, 40 MW.

 The DOE also reportedly awarded two geothermal service contracts to Philippine National Oil Co.-Renewables Corp., with an estimated total generating capacity of 40 MW.

 The GEA report cited the Philippines as only one of nine countries that had “significant” power production developed since the GEA identified in 1999 the 39 countries having the potential to meet 100 percent of their electricity needs through domestic geothermal resources.

GEA executive director Karl Gawell was quoted as saying these countries’ geothermal power production represent, however, “only a small fraction” of the power potential “we could be utilizing. Even if we assume the lowest possible projections for geothermal potential, the vast majority of countries don’t fully use their geothermal resource.”  

In 2009, the GEA estimated the Philippine geothermal power potential is from a low of 3,500 MWs to a high of 5,730 MWs.

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