Lopez-led Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the country’s largest geothermal energy producer, is encouraging the government to support the development of more geothermal projects saying that geothermal is not only a clean and renewable energy source but its cost, as well as supply, is stable.
EDC President and COO Richard B. Tantoco explained on Wednesday that the country cannot depend on coal-fired power plants for stable prices because – contrary to popular perception — coal is no longer a cheap power plant fuel. “It’s price in fact erratic”, he said.
“Indonesian coal was US$44 a metric ton in February and just a couple of weeks ago it reached US$110 [per metric ton]. So, what does that mean for Filipino consumers, going out to the future?” Tantoco rhetorically asked.
Tantoco said there is a great risk in relying heavily on a single fuel source, because if there are shortages in the supply of that fuel source or there are sharp price increases, consumers will suffer.
“Even if it [coal]stabilizes into 80 [dollars per metric ton]it doesn’t mean ‘cheap’ energy is here to stay. That’s why we’re pushing very hard for geothermal to happen; because if you make it happen, it provides stable, base load, and clean energy,” he said.
Tantoco said that EDC’s focus on developing geothermal and other renewable energy sources reflects the company’s recognition of the need to lessen the build-up in the atmosphere of more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming and climate change.
The use of geothermal, which is an indigenous energy source, also helps the government save on foreign exchange that otherwise could pay for imported fuel sources like coal.
Scientific studies have tagged the power generation industry, especially carbon-intensive coal-fired power plants, as one of the main reasons behind adverse weather patterns associated with climate change, such as floods, droughts, as well as more destructive and more frequent typhoons similar in magnitude to super-typhoon Yolanda.
In explaining its support for coal, government officials earlier explained that the country releases a minimal amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But Tantoco pointed out that, for a country that is most vulnerable to climate change-related disasters, that small amount has a huge impact on Filipinos, especially on the indigent sector of the population.
The EDC official cited a 10-year study conducted by a European group which showed the Philippines suffered 320 weather loss-related events over a 10 year period.
“The Philippines is the single, most vulnerable nation on earth; it recorded 320 events in 10 years compared to just 220 for Bangladesh and Thailand. So we are the most vulnerable,” Tantoco said.
“Every single ton of carbon we throw out to the atmosphere is detrimental. It’s not the people who trade in the stock exchange who are going to get affected; it’s the poorest of the poor. So we have to work hand in hand to de-carbonize the energy sector,” he said.
He also reaffirmed EDC’s willingness to work together with government in developing clean and renewable energy sources that do not aggravate the country’s vulnerability to disasters associated with adverse climate change.