Energy and Global Warming News for November 6: Philippines targets $2.5 billion geothermal development

Geothermal energy is a core climate solution (as discussed here). The U.S. currently has 3 gigaWatts (3000 megaWatts) of geothermal, one third of the world’s capacity, generating $1.8 billion electricity sales. The US Geological Survey estimates the US could generate 150,000 megawatts of geothermal. A major 2007 study by MIT on Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) found that it could be a provider of substantial baseload (24/7) power. MIT’s panel concluded that “with a combined public/private investment of about $800 million to $1 billion over a 15-year period” — “less than the cost of a single, new-generation, clean-coal power plant” — “EGS technology could be deployed commercially on a timescale that would produce more than 100,000 MWe or 100 GWe of new capacity by 2050.”The Philippines has almost 2,000 MW of geothermal and are looking to harness another 620 MW. Above is a view of the National Power Corp.’s Makiling-Banahaw Geothermal plant in Laguna province south of the capital Manila.Philippines targets $2.5 billion geothermal development

The Philippine government aims to approve contracts to explore and develop the country’s massive geothermal energy resources, which could attract more than $2.5 billion in private investment, an official said.

The Philippines, the world’s second-largest developer of geothermal energy, plans to approve 19 deals in the next five months to allow foreign and domestic companies access to geothermal projects, the division chief for geothermal energy at the Philippine Energy Department, Alejandro Oanes, told Reuters.

Philippine power producer Energy Development Corp and Envent, a unit of Geysir Green Energy, one of Iceland’s biggest geothermal energy companies, were among groups vying for contracts to tap the country’s geothermal resources, he said.


“Incentives for renewable projects are giving (the country’s) geothermal development a much needed boost,” said Oanes in a telephone interview from Manila.

Tax holidays and tariff exemptions for renewable energy projects are boosting investment in clean energy in the Philippines, with the government recently awarding 87 contracts to develop alternative energy sources.

Geothermal power accounted for 17 percent of the country’s total power mix at the end of 2008, with installed capacity close to 2,000 megawatts, energy department data showed.

The government was issuing tenders for the development of 10 geothermal sites and negotiating nine more deals directly with various companies, Oanes said. Combined, the deals could harness more than 620 megawatts of geothermal energy.

Geothermal sites covered in the deals include Mount Isarog, in Camarines Sur province, where about 70 MW of geothermal power could be developed. The government is also looking at resources in Mount Labo, Camarines Norte with a potential capacity of 65 MW.

APEC seeks sweeping world emission cuts by 2050

Asia-Pacific leaders plan to call for sweeping cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at a summit here next week, according to a draft communique obtained by AFP Friday.

“We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries,” the draft said.

Leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, including the United States and China, will meet in Singapore on November 14–15 to discuss global economic recovery, environmental issues and free trade.

The summit will come ahead of crucial world climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

The leaders, including US President Barack Obama, are expected to reaffirm their commitment to reaching a “good agreement in Copenhagen to enable the full, effective and sustainable implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the draft said.

“Human-induced climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world,” it said.

“Global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will need to be accompanied by measures to support the most vulnerable countries to assist them to adapt to the adverse impact of climate change.”

Fossil fuel subsidies “bringing us closer to irreversible climate change”

The Green Economy Coalition is urging G20 finance ministers to rapidly put an end to fossil fuel subsidies. In a letter to the ministers, the coalition argues that these subsidies are contributing directly to climate change and making it difficult for the world to transition to a greener economy.

“These subsidies are a massive diversion of public funds that could be better spend in other ways,” says Mark Halle, executive director of IISD-Europe, a member of the coalition. “Subsidies create false impressions about the relative cost of lower-carbon energy alternatives and this is brining us closer to irreversible climate change.”

The Green Economy Coalition estimates that an end to fossil fuel subsidies would bring about a reduction of global carbon dioxide emission by 10 percent””the equivalent of Russia and Japan’s combined total.

“The current annual fossil fuel subsidy bill of hundreds of billions of dollars would be better spent on health, education, renewable energy or other actions that would accelerate the transition to a green economy,” the coalition writes.

They add that the problem isn’t just subsidies for consumers, but those given out to large fossil fuel corporations.

“Whereas it is principally the developing world which grants low fuel prices to consumers, various more subtle subsidies are used to reduce the costs of producing and refining fossil fuels in all countries””developed and developing. To achieve the full benefits of subsidy reform, and to ensure that the burden is equitably shared, production subsidies should be explicitly included in G-20 members’ reform packages,” the letter says.

However, the Green Economy Coalition also states that subsidies must be phased out in a way that ensures the world’s poor are not negatively affected: “subsidy reform will need to be accompanied by specific ‘flanking’ measures that relieve or compensate for that burden on the poor.”

G20 leaders agreed in Pittsburgh in September to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. While the Green Economy Coalition has welcomed that commitment, they say phasing out the subsidies should come faster.

U.S. Chamber Blasted for Weak-Kneed Response to Climate Change Legislation

On Tuesday, November 3, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a press release in which it said it supports strong federal climate change legislation. In a letter to Senators Boxer and Inhofe, the Chamber called for a fresh approach that strikes the right balance between new and conventional sources of energy to smoothly transition to a low-carbon future.

Several prominent companies, including Apple Inc. and PG&E Corp., have recently left the Chamber in protest of its opposition to the climate bills in Congress. Tuesday’s statement appeared to be a softening of the Chamber’s position in response to pressure it has received from some members.

Proponents of climate change legislation were quick to capitalize on the Chamber’s statement. Senator Boxer immediately issued a press release citing the letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in trying to break a Republican boycott that could prevent her committee from voting on a cap-and-trade.

Huge emitter lobby undercuts climate efforts

Moves by governments to regulate carbon emissions and efforts to secure a new international climate change treaty are being successfully thwarted by the sheer number of lobbyists and amount of funding being brought to bear by heavy greenhouse emitting companies, a study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) claims.

The study examined lobbying efforts and campaign contributions in the United States, European Union, Japan, China, India, Australia, Brazil and Canada. The chances of a meaningful climate change agreement being struck in Copenhagen are being retarded by “a far-reaching, multinational backlash by fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters aimed at slowing progress on control of greenhouse gas emissions”, the investigation concluded.

See: The Global Climate Change Lobby report