Thursday, July 03, 2008

Geothermal Energy could sustain Indonesia and Philippines

Interesting news report on geothermal energy, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Analysts believe countries in the so-called Pacific "ring of fire" could derive enough energy to fully power their domestic economies. But there are high costs involved, and tapping into "volcano power" is potentially fraught with danger.

One of the responses by Mario Marasigan, head of the Energy Utilisation and Management bureau at the Philippines Department of Energy, though illustrates one of the problems in developing this resource.

The main issue that besets our renewable energy development, particularly geothermal, is the huge upfront cost that is required for any development of geothermal resources. The cost of drilling one hole during the exploratory stage of resource development will take a lot of investor requirement. You know for Filipino investors, to come up with the huge investment cost for geothermal energy development is a little difficult. So it would take a multinational corporation to develop these kind of resources.

Here again is a typical situation of a developing country waiting for external sources to develop its basic infrastructure. I have no doubt that the Philippines, both business and government sources, could pony up the money to finance these projects if the will was there.

More opinions on geothermal and other sources of renewable energy for Southeast Asia can be found Global Voices Online.

1 comment:

Bea said...

Another upfront cost of geothermal energy in the Philippines is forest destruction. We have so little of it left that most of the time we are faced with questions like: watersheds/flood control/etc. or energy?

Not to mention the lousy records and evidence of kalokohan by PNOC-EDC.

Take the recent example of Negros' Kanlaon debate.

The Kanlaon area has about half the 4.9% forest cover of Negros. Scientists recommend at least 40-50% forest cover for proper ecosystem functions (oxygen, water, etc).

PNOC-EDC facilitated the "mysterious" entry of a "buffer zone" provision in the NIPAS-declared Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park. The rest of the NIPAS-declared areas are off limits to exploration and significant human activity.

Now it's not really a matter of "development vs. environment", but one of long-term decision-making, and exhaustive review of options. Renewable does not necessarily mean sustainable.