US ties up with Lopez-led EDC to study geothermal potential

MINDANAO geothermal facility located in Kidapawan City — EDC

A UNITED States agency is providing Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. (EDC) a grant of $413,120 to do a feasibility study for the development of a geothermal power plant in Mindanao.

In a press release published on its website, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) said it launched along with US Vice President Kamala Harris the grant — valued at P23.56 million in the local currency — to study the geothermal potential of the southern island’s Amacan area.

It said the power plant, with a potential capacity of 50 megawatts (MW), “will support the Philippines’ clean energy transition and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong said in the release that the agency’s assistance “will catalyze private sector investment in geothermal technologies that US companies are well positioned to supply.”

“The Philippines is already among the world’s renewable energy leaders. Its potential capacity for geothermal, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power is significant,” Ms. Ebong said.

“By partnering with EDC, USTDA is enthusiastic about bringing additional renewable energy resources online so that people across the Philippines have a clean and reliable source of power,” she added.

The agency quoted Richard B. Tantoco, president and chief operating officer of EDC, as saying that the Philippines needs to develop more geothermal energy to ensure its energy security.

“Geothermal energy has been providing the Philippines with baseload renewable energy and helping our country avoid at least a million tons of carbon emissions each year compared to coal,” Mr. Tantoco said.

Alberto R. Dalusung III, the energy transition advisor of non-profit group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said in a Viber message to BusinessWorld that geothermal energy provides the highest capacity factor of power resources in the Philippines.

“We hope this will lead to a long-term partnership to enhance and expand existing geothermal fields, while developing new geothermal fields,” Mr. Dalusung said.

Gerry C. Arances, executive director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, said in a message: “A transition to 100% renewable energy is urgently needed in our country. Even still, we remain cautious and note that not all forms of renewable energy are created equal.”

Mr. Arances said that while the group welcomes the initiative, it is highly cautious about the impact of bringing in technologies, and prefers the development of sources that are “easily deployable.”

Separately, the USTDA published on its website an invitation from EDC for the submission of proposals from interested US companies that are qualified “on the basis of experience and capability” to execute the feasibility study.

The deadline for submission is set on Dec. 9 at 5:00 p.m. The selected US company will receive the grant provided by the agency.

On its website, EDC said that it has an installed renewable energy capacity of 1,476.59 MW. It also said geothermal energy is the company’s major power source at an installed capacity of 1,181.8 MW or 61.3% of the country’s total. — Ashley Erika O. Jose