Geothermal players seek FIT accreditation from DOE

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IN ORDER to address barriers related to costs and resource exploration risks faced by geothermal energy developers, the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP) is calling for coverage under the feed-in tariff (FIT) program of geothermal emerging technologies currently not commercially viable under existing market and pricing structures.

FIT is a pre-set power price guarantee for qualified renewable energy providers. Under RA 9513, the 2008 Renewable Energy Act (RE Act), FIT given to solar, wind, and other renewable energy companies with “emerging technology” for the Philippines, but not for geothermal energy producers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is encouraging the development of renewable energy through the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP). The NREP outlines the government’s goal of increasing geothermal power capacity by 75 percent, with another 1,465 MW from 2013 to 2030.

In consultation with the NGAP, the DOE has determined that meeting the target will require certain enabling actions by the government as detailed in the 2016 Geothermal Road Map.

“The DOE strategy now is to apply new development technologies to what previously were considered to be second tier resources e.g. technologies that can utilize acidic and young geothermal systems, development of low enthalpy geothermal systems, direct use of small-scale geothermal energy technologies (for example, modular well head turbines), and hybrid technologies,” Fernando S. Peñarroyo of the NGAP said.

“With an appropriately structured feed-in tariff rate that will provide guaranteed payment to investors through a universal charge, these acidic and lower enthalpy resources can be developed to generate electricity. FlTs and other incentive mechanisms are already being used effectively in many nations around the world to support the commercial viability of such resources,” he said.

“On a bright note, the DOE is receptive to the proposal of including emerging-technology in the array of RE projects that shall be incentivized under the FIT system, based on the recommendation of the National Renewable Energy Board, which must carry out an extensive study on the proposal,” Peñarroyo said.

The NGAP is a non-governmental, non-profit organization which aims to encourage, facilitate, and promote the coordination of activities related to worldwide and national research, development and application of geothermal resources.

Its members include Aboitiz Power, Chevron Geothermal Services Company, Department of Energy, Emerging Power Inc., Energy Development Corporation, Maibarara Geothermal Inc., and Philippine Geothermal Production Company Inc.

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