Geothermal plant eyed in Mt. Apo

ABOITIZ Power Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Power, is set to develop a geothermal power plant in Mt. Apo in the next five years.

Manuel M. Orig, Aboitiz Power Corp. first vice president for Mindanao Affairs, speaking in Wednesday's edition of Club 888 at Marco Polo Hotel Davao, said the development is divided into three phases: exploration, construction, and operations.

He said they are currently in the exploration phase of the development. The Department of Energy (DOE) issued the company a geothermal energy service contract to explore two areas within the Mt. Apo National Park: the 8,910-hectare Kapatagan contract area in Mt. Sibulan, which covers portions of Sta. Cruz, Digos City, and Davao City; and the 8,586-hectare Tico contract area in Mt. Talomo, which covers portions of Magpet, North Cotabato and Davao City, Davao del Sur.

The exploration stage will include the studying of rock types, structures, volcanic history, and geohydrology of the area; identifying the flow of fluids at the subsurface and estimate the shape and size of the reservoir; estimating underground reservoir fluids by samples and studying the chemistry of water and gas samples; and detecting resistivity of geothermal structures, faults, and the presence of cap rock, and temperatures at various depths through a Magnetotelluric Survey.

"We will know only of how much power we can produce only when we complete the exploration works. However, we hope to be able to find or produce about 200 megawatts," Orig said.

The exploration will run for 24 months. Orig said they are currently in the process of complying the needed requirements of the local government units and areas covered by ancestral domain.

"After the clearance, we will then secure the permit from relevant government agencies," Orig said.

After the exploration, they will move on to the construction phase which will run also for 24 months. This phase will involve temperature gradient drilling, production well steam flow testing, and the construction of the plant.

"Generating electricity with the use of geothermal power is not mining. We will just use steam under the earth to produce electricity," Orig said.

He said they are embarking on this project because there is a need to diversify the power plants serving Mindanao to ensure the long-term security of its power supply; the need to enable the people of Mindanao to benefit from the rich potential of its geothermal power resources; and the need to build more renewable power plants in Mindanao to help mitigate climate change.

Orig said they will be using modern technology to ensure that the geothermal plant does not harm the health of people and cause the least adverse effect to the environment and the community.

He also assured that they will be proactive in their efforts to preserve the Mt. Apo National Park.

"However, we will not proceed with the project if we cannot generate at least 50 megawatts," he added.

Orig said below 50 megawatts of power generation will not be enough to recover investments, support for host community, operations, and maintenance of the plant.

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