The Philippinesa[euro][TM] Rich Renewable Alternative Sources of Energy

Manila Bulletin, January 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Philippinesa[euro][TM] Rich Renewable Alternative Sources of Energy


Byline: Beth D Romulo

AS we close out the tumultuous past year, fraught with natural disaster and human tragedies, the most pressing problem facing world economies is not terrorists, but oil. The high cost of imported oil can sink growing economies and ruin individual household budgets. It can also provide world threatening powers to the suppliers of the worldas oil and cause diplomatic rearrangements that can destabilize the world order.

Look at Iran. Its president can utter such startling racist comments as Israel should be "wiped off the face of earth" and no one is going to slap sanctions on his country because of the need for Iranas oil. This is simply an example of how the power of oil distorts diplomatic relations.

The Philippines is fortunate in its wide range of alternative energy sources but it should move with all speed to get more in production. Ethanol, from sugar or corn, which can be mixed with gasoline to run cars, is the one we are hearing the most about and a bio fuel law is being discussed in Congress. But there are many others, some of them functioning, others on the drawing board: Natural gas, wind power, solar power a" and perhaps one of the most costly but of paramount importance: Geothermal power. Thus far, the Philippines imports ethanol, but hopefully that change. The countryas first ethanol plant was inaugurated in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, last May, and is targeted to be completed in 2007.

A renewable source of energy, geothermal power derives from rainwater in the earth, heated by subterranean volcanic rocks which appears as hot springs, or geysers, or is tapped through drilling wells.

When the first geothermal wells were drilled over 20 years ago. New Zealand experts came to the Philippines to assist in technical expertise. Now the Philippines is considered an expert in the field and PNOC recently signed a subcontract with a German company to develop geothermal wells in the Middle East, providing expertise in exploration and drilling.

The World Bank has approved a loan of $25 million to help finance the expansion of the capacity of geothermal wells in Negros Oriental, which are expected to generate an additional 20 megawatts of power. PNOC also plans a $770-million investment in four new geothermal sites in Leyte, Negros Oriental, and Mindanao. …

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