THE Department of Energy is looking to award service contracts to three private groups for the exploration and development of eight prospective “frontier” geothermal areas, one of which is located in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

Documents from the DOE showed that Energy Development Corp., PNOC-Renewables Corp. and Primary Energy Corp. have submitted unsolicited proposals for the so-called frontier areas, which refer to those that have not been explored or for which the government has no resource data.

The area in Balingasag is expected to have a resource potential of 20 MW. The presence of hot springs in the area is probably due to presence of volcanic mountains in the Sumagaya Range.

Seven of the eight contracts are expected to generate a combined 251 megawatts of geothermal energy. Investments in these projects are expected to reach as much as $627.5 million.

Should the companies’ proposals pass government evaluations, the contracts to be awarded will be on top of the geothermal service contracts that may be granted to 10 companies under the Philippine Energy Contracting Round for geothermal 2009.

The Philippines, with a capacity of 1,987 MW, is the world’s second-biggest producer of geothermal energy after the United States. The country’s geothermal capacity accounts for about 17 percent of the generation mix, which means that one in every six light bulbs is powered by geothermal energy.

In terms of geothermal reserves, the Philippines has been reported to have sufficient resources to produce more than 1,000 MW of additional electricity from geothermal.

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