Philippines aims to be world’s leading geothermal producer

The Philippines is aiming to be the number one producer of geothermal energy in the world, according to an energy department official. “Right now, we are next only to the United States. But we aim to be number one,” said Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Cesar Ramirez.

Ramirez attended the industry consultation on wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) rules Thursday at Cebu Grand Hotel. Ramirez said the Philippine Energy Plan for the next 10 years had identified targets in order to increase the use of indigenous sources of energy, so the country would not be so dependent on importing oil for its power needs.

In this connection, he said there were plans to install a pipeline going from Batangas to Manila to extend the use of the natural gas produced by shell’s Malampaya project off the island of Palawan. The project formally opened in October. At present, only three plants-the Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan plants- can source natural gas from Malampaya to provide a combined 2700 megawatts of power, he said.

Ramirez added that talks were also ongoing with Malaysia and Indonesia, major natural gas producers, to supply the Philippians with natural gas through a trans-Asean gas pipeline, since the reserves in Malampaya are expected to last only 20 years.

Chrysanthus Heruela, OIC, Office of the Assistant Director, DOE Manila, also said the Philippine National Oil Corp. was planning to put up a 40 MW wind-powered plant in Ilocos. This could be operational by 2005.

At present, the Philippines generates power using coal, geothermal energy, diesel and fuel oil, natural gas and water.

Key players in the Visayas with a capacity or demand of one megawatt and above were given an orientation on the WESM, the establishment of which is mandated by Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Industry Reform Act.

Heruela explained that with the restructuring of the industry, National Power Corp. would no longer have monopoly over the generating transmission and selling functions, creating potential problems if the demand or supply of power in

the system suddenly changed. So if a manufacturing plant, for example, suddenly needed a big increase in its power supply that its present supplier could not meet, the plant or its intermediary could go to the spot market where its power demand could be met by other suppliers with excess supply. The spot market may open in June 2002, he said.

Heruela said such spot markets were already operating in “almost all countries in Europe” as well as Australia and Singapore.

Two consortiums, Freehills of Australia and PA Consulting of New Zealand, are helping the DOE with the implementation of the power reform law through a grant provided by the Philippines-Australia Governance Facility, the governance project of the Australian Agency for International Development.

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