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Science and Environment

Why geothermal energy is key to fighting climate change and how it can power a safer future

Philstar.com
Why geothermal energy is key to fighting climate change and how it can power a safer future
EDC’s 112.5MW Palinpinon-1 geothermal power plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental has been supplying clean, renewable 24/7 power to Negros and other parts of Luzon and Visayas for over 38 years.
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MANILA, Philippines — Climate change is real and definitely upon us. You cannot see it when you go outside of your house, but you can feel it.

You don’t need to have a scientific mind to realize this, as natural calamities and weather disturbances are evident in the Philippines: the occurrence of frequent and stronger typhoons, intense heat during summer period, and heavy rains and flooding during the rainy season that damage property and critical infrastructure. Certainly, this change is a little discomforting and makes us a bit apprehensive about our future.

While we cannot stop this environmental threat overnight, we can slow the rate and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis by reducing human emissions. All of us need to make our efforts count to combat climate change through the reduction of emissions and the promotion of renewable energy sources, not tomorrow, not next year. We should take action now for our generation and for generations yet to come.

Shift now or regret later

Although the Philippines is not a substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, several studies and reports project that our country’s GHG emissions will continue to increase in the years to come. This growth will be due to robust growth of the economy, amplified urbanization, improved demand and use of energy, and the continuous increase in the number of vehicles, all of which are highly dependent on crude oil for energy.

Energy use is changing fast. According to the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, our window of opportunity to respond to the climate crisis is rapidly closing. If we fail to cut our carbon emissions fast, we will experience the irreversible effects of climate change on the planet, and humanity's survival will be at stake.

The shift to renewable sources, therefore, needs to happen faster, not just in power generation but in heating, buildings, and transport, to check the rise in global temperatures.

Let’s talk about geo

The best and simplest we can do now is to educate ourselves on how to face the climate crisis. While it seems that we can do little as ordinary citizens, if we arm ourselves with knowledge of the science behind climate change and its effects on people and the environment, we can start to take steps toward positive change, and influence others to do the same.

This is why the country’s leading geothermal producer, First Gen-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC), launched Geo Talks. It is an online program dedicated to spreading relevant information and deepening the public's understanding of geothermal energy and its relation to relevant environmental issues, particularly climate change, faced by the world and the country today.

Launched in time for the celebration of World Environment Day, the pilot episode of Geo Talks dubbed as "Why Geo" (short for geothermal) on digital platforms hosted by the well-known broadcaster and journalist Jing Castañeda.

Distinguished guests during the first Geo Talks episode were industry experts Jeff Caranto, president of the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP) and AVP and Head of EDC’s Exploration, and Carlos Lorenzo Vega, vice president for Power Marketing Trading, and Economics of First Gen Corporation.

The first episode ignited the conversation about the ongoing climate change, its effects on our lives, and how we can turn it around through decarbonization by utilizing geothermal energy.

Caranto enlightened the audience with a comprehensive discussion of geothermal energy as an alternative power source and how it can help alleviate the negative impacts of climate change. “Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that comes from reservoirs of hot water beneath the Earth’s surface. With applications in several economic sectors—electricity, industry, and buildings—the increased use of geothermal energy can significantly minimize the use of fossil fuels and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions,” he explained. 

He highlighted the timely release of Geo Talks to reach the general public and disseminate accurate information, especially amidst the widespread fake news and disinformation. Caranto also showed a simple video presentation on how geothermal energy works in the Philippine context.

But among the renewable energy sources available, why geo? Industry expert Caranto answered, “It’s baseload energy or always available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is why EDC's geothermal product is called Geo 24/7. Geothermal provides a clean, stable, and reliable energy source compared to other RE sources, such as wind and solar, that are intermittent.”

(Left to right) Jeff Caranto, President of the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP) and AVP and Head of EDC’s Exploration, Carlos Lorenzo Vega, Vice President for Power Marketing, Trading, and Economics of First Gen Corporation and veteran broadcaster and journalist Jing Castañeda during the pilot episode of EDC’s Geo Talks. The first episode focused on climate change, its effects, and how we can turn it around by using geothermal energy.
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RCOA and GEOP 

Given the significant role of geothermal energy in our fight against climate concerns, the question now is how to shift?

EDC is one of the leading private entities in the country that collaborates with other businesses and the government to spearhead the shift to renewable energy.

In his segment at Geo Talks, Vega shared more information about the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP) and Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA), programs under Republic Act 9513, or the Renewable Energy Law.

“GEOP allows business owners with average monthly electricity consumption of 100 kilowatts (kW) or Php 300,000 bill per month to exclusively source their electricity from renewable sources like hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal through licensed GEOP suppliers like EDC’s BacMan Geothermal, Inc. and Green Core Geothermal, Inc. subsidiaries. Aside from being able to do their part in saving the environment, business owners who will be participating in this program can enjoy reliable electricity at affordable charge rates,” he said.

RCOA, on the other hand, empowers business owners, whose average consumption during the last 12 months reached a minimum of 500kW or P1.2 million monthly electricity bill, to choose their own retail electricity supplier. With RCOA, corporations and business entities like malls, ice plants or manufacturing companies, can choose a clean and reliable energy source to power their businesses.

Impacts on the lives of Filipinos

EDC SIKAT scholars in Negros.
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Corporations and businesses are some of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. This is why programs that incentivize the use of RE like RCOA and GEOP will be the Philippines' stepping stone in our collective efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Our role as individuals is to patronize the brands that get power from RE for their operations.

The shift can also help the country recover economically, as the RE industry is one of the thriving industries in the world. Renewables can promote economic growth, especially in rural areas of the country where communities can benefit from green jobs created from RE projects and investments.

We are running out of time. We have a responsibility to our planet and humanity. With geothermal energy and RE programs like RCOA and GEOP, we can improve the overall quality of life of Filipinos and that of future generations. Renewables hold the key to powering a safer future. 

 

The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is the leading 100% clean, renewable energy company in the Philippines, with over 40 years of experience in geothermal technology. With power plants situated across the country, EDC is the world’s largest vertically integrated geothermal company. The company also strives to provide the best customer and value-adding services to all its customers. 

Watch the full episode of Geo Talks at EDC’s official Facebook page. To learn more about lowering your business’ carbon footprint by shifting to renewable energy, visit Energy Development Corporation’s official website or email [email protected]

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

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