Thursday, 10 April 2008

Geothermal energy waiting for Congress nod

Geothermal dev’t roadmap pushed
The Manila Bulletin

A roadmap for the development of the country’s geothermal energy sector was one of the key proposals put forward by the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP) in a recently-concluded general assembly of stakeholders.

They noted the geothermal industry roadmap must be aligned with the aspirations for wider utilization of renewable energy as a way to enhance the country’s energy independence and as part of the strategy for climate change risks mitigation.

The vision being advanced by NGAP would be to position the Philippines "to be the world leader in geothermal energy production and utilization," to be complemented by initiatives such as the establishment of centers of excellence in geothermal technology and services.

After the development of the first geothermal energy facility in the country in 1971, development initiatives progressed significantly over the years that current generation from geothermal facilities now reach 1,978 megawatts.

The Philippines is currently the world’s second largest geothermal energy producer, next to the United States. But assessing its resource potential, experts noted that the country has a big chance to take the lead in geothermal energy development.

Yet for these goals to move forward, the government must first do its share in laying down the right policies to entice investments in the sector. The appropriate initial step seen would be the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill, which remains pending in Congress until now.

In a manifesto issued by NGAP during the general assembly which tackled "Emerging Challenges and Opportunities in Renewable Energy", the organization stressed that it "stands resolutely behind current efforts among the key stakeholders in government, the power sector and civil society to promote the exploration and development of Renewable Energy."

First Gen and Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation director Peter D. Garrucho Jr, who was the keynote speaker at the event, cited as a significant development the fact that geothermal resources are now recognized as renewable energy by global energy organizations, such as the International Energy Agency, the World Energy Council and the United Nations Environment Program.

With First Gen’s current acquisition of the majority shareholdings of geothermal firm PNOC-EDC, Garrucho also outlined the major thrusts of the company in the renewable energy industry which include the development of new geothermal fields and possibility of overseas expansion, starting in Indonesia.

NGAP president Lauro F. Bayrante, on the other hand, pledged that the organization will "champion geothermal as a viable, clean and indigenous energy form."

The group has formally handed over the manifesto to Renewable Energy Coalition Convenor Catherine Maceda, who reiterated call on policymakers to prioritize the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill.

The measure is expected to provide various incentives to prospective investments in renewable energy; which are seen to eventually translate into reduction in the delivered price of electricity generated, primarily those from geothermal resource. (MMV)

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