Advocacy MindaNOW: On volcanoes and power PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 11:39

We are told  that the Philippines straddles the so-called “ring of fire”, an arc-shaped swathe of land  in the globe that includes several countries. Being in the “ring of fire”   means  being  vulnerable to earthquakes and upheavals like volcano eruptions triggered by hot magma building up tremendous pressure underneath.  Bad and tragic for us, yes. But  NOT all that bad, really! For one, due to earth’s  periodic convulsions, we are a mineralized land caused by the periodic movements of the earth’s crust or tectonic plates pushing  to the surface from the earth’s wombs   gold, copper and other precious metals.

APO ——  Talking of volcanoes.   I once visited Lake Agco at the Mount Apo slopes during a media forum arranged by MindaNews. It was an ascending trip from Kidapawan City  to the resort  site high up in the slopes.   Hot steaming water from the bowels of  the earth  fed  into  steaming ponds. It was  the first time I realized that  volcanoes  were  all not that dangerous and bad. In fact, geothermal aquifers in  volcanic areas  can be veritable sources of cheap power for all of us. Nearby was the PNOC-EDC geothermal power plants. We know that geothermal plants are still, by far, the most desirable renewable power source as it leaves the least environment “footprint”, leaves no waste  and it is  the most environment friendly source of power.    Significantly, per approved rates by the Energy Regulatory Commission,   geothermal  generates the  cheapest power  (P5.11/ kh) compared to all renewables like bio-mass (P6.63/kh); wind (P8.53/kh);  solar (P9.68/kh)  or even hydro (P5.90/kh). Power from coal-fired plant, by the way, costs P5.59/kh.  (These rates  do not  include as yet,  of course, other add-ons like transmission charges, taxes etc).

GEOTHERMAL POWER —  That’s the reason why a few days ago,  I was engrossed listening to Mindanao Affairs  First Vice President Manuel”Bobby” Orig, of Aboitiz Power,Inc. giving a briefing on the planned geothermal power plants at the Mt. Apo national park. It was done  during our reunion at the quiet retirement house of Archbishop “Emeritus” Nanding Capalla at Catalunan Grande (on a promontory overlooking the city and the gulf)   to mark his 39th episcopal ordination anniversary. His close friends, called “NANDING BOYS” were there to celebrate with him — although only a few of of us (Nilo Claudio , Art Milan, Tony Ajero) among the  chrolesterol-watchers  touched the luscious “lechon de leche” on the table.

Back to geothermal. It’s not everywhere where  one can generate steam from a geothermal plant to generate electricity. We need a volcano nearby where hot magma somewhere about 3 kilometers deep into the ground can heat up and  boil underground water and produce steam whose force can turn turbines and produce electricity. It is a “hot pot theory” in action.   It can be simply illustrated, per Bobby,  by a boiling kettle (locally called a “takori”) where after the water boils, steam escapes from the spout. That steam, if controlled and managed  can be a force to produce cheap electricity. What is “harvested” by the drills and pipes from below  consists of 20% steam and 80% water — the water component being injected back to the ground— so there are NO  wastes left in the environment.

AP Renewables, Inc. ( APR),  an Aboitiz subsidiary, is planning to build two geothermal plants at 100MW each in two sights : at Mt Apo Talomo-Tico in Magpet, North Cotabato   and at Mt. Sibulan at Kapatagan that straddles Sta. Cruz, Digos and Davao City. Although each  actual plant site  needs only about 1,000 square meters of land, the size of an olympic-sized swimming pool, each concession will cover about 8,500 hectares. APR is    an old hand in operating geothermal plants being owner/ operator  of a 458MW geothermal plant in Makban, Laguna and a 289 MW geothermal plant  in Tiwi, Albay.

We hope the project goes on stream quickly as we are all in bad need of power in Mindanao. When all requisites are done, the construction period to plant commissioning spans about 4 to 5 years. So let’s all get going, folks!

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DAVAO  CANADIAN CHAMBER —  Canadian  Julian Payne who is national president of the Canadian Chamber  of Commerce (CANCHAM)  called me from Manila to inform me that plans are afoot for the establishment of a Davao CanCham, which will promote Canadian- Philippines investments and goodwill.    He will visit Davao within the next few days  to meet those interested to be charter members.

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WANTED BUYER  — A plush facility that serves as a learning center ( for music and language ) is being offered for sale. It is situated in a 1,500 square meter subdivision  land in Guadalupe Village in Lanang. It consists of plush buildings  with  around 15 rooms that can be used  as classrooms and  around 21 lodging  rooms  complete with space for offices, kitchen, dining and other amenities. The reason why the facilities are for sale is because  my lady friend who owns it plans on moving on with her life and career in Europe where she came from before settling in Davao City years ago. I promised to help her so email or   call me @09178995377.

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CRIMES OF PASSION — Over the past weeks, we have been shaken by  several crimes committed in the city that may  have elements of what we call “crimes of passion” like the murders of  Davao Businessman “TY” Garcia and  perhaps of Lawyer Emmanuel  Acuna. Another businessman, Richard King was also shot dead but this is still being investigated. Jealous lovers or business rivalry or plain personal grudges plus availability  of for-hire killers  make a  dangerous combination. This is a slap on our justice system where people with grievances no longer resort to.

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GET’S CENTENNIAL — Today,  we are marking the 100th birthday anniversary of the late Atty. GUILLERMO E. TORRES, SR., a Mindanao pioneer in education, media, banking  business and other endeavors. Among others, he founded the University of Mindanao, the Mindanao TIMES, the UMBN, the Mt. Apo Science Foundation and other early pioneering projects   that have become fountainheads of development in Southern Philippines up to this day.

When I was a young newsman while studying law in the late 60s, I had the privilege of working for “GE” (  while Mindanao TIMES was still a weekly). He was a quiet, low-key but passionate worker. He was a personal friend to Philippine presidents. (I remember him  playing golf with President Marcos.) Unknown to many, he was one of the early migrants from Luzon who, even before the war, had believed that being in  Mindanao, specially still rustic Davao,  was the way to the future.  He was a visionary. His passion was to capacitate the young through education.

Today, the fine traditions have been passed on and carried over to the next generation. I am sure “GE” is now at peace with the thought that the torch, still aflame,  is ably borne high by his equally  workaholic and illustrious  “clone”,  DR. GUILLERMO “Willie” TORRES, Jr. with whom I also work as a peer and a friend.

On my part, I have mixed feelings — whether to feel proud or feel ancient  —   having spanned two generations of GEs, the father and the son.  (jessdureza@gmail.com)