Geothermal updates from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines

Geothermal news is lighting up the Asia-Pacific region this week. Several projects in Australia and Indonesia are progressing, while Japan is making social and political commitments to geothermal and renewable energy. The Philippines will be selling bulk energy contracts from two of its major geothermal areas that were hit by last year’s typhoon.

*Australia: Geothermal Progressing in Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria
*Indonesia: WB and ADB Discuss Financing; 3 Geo Power Plants to Power Up in 2014
*Japan: Fukushima Pledges to 100% Renewable Energy by 2040; Regulations Favor Mid-Sized Geothermal Plants
*The Philippines: Bulk Energy Contracts Announced; Montelago Plant to Bring Down Power Rates

In western Queensland, Australia, the Winton Shire Council will study the feasibility of a geothermal power plant. Any power generated would be sold to Queensland utility Ergon, and Ergon would continue to provide Winton’s power.

Also in Queensland at Birdsville, Australia’s long-running geothermal power plant, Ergon is seeking federal funding to expand the plant by the end of 2016.

In South Australia, reports on Geodynamics say the company netted a $8.5 million tax refund for its geothermal research at the Cooper Basin Enhanced Geothermal Systems site and now has a cash balance of around $40 million. The company is pursuing the Savo Island Geothermal Power Project in the Solomon Islands, as well as projects and prospects of KUTh Energy which it acquired in December.

In western Victoria, company Hot Rock Limited has been given a 5-year extension on its Koroit geothermal exploration permit. Drilling is tentatively planned for 2017 if the company can raise $30 million for two test wells.

And, Australia-listed geothermal player Petratherm is extending into the oil and gas industry through subsidiary PetraGas.

Reports from Indonesia say the World Bank and Asian Development Bank will commit to finance geothermal development in the archipelago. Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources told press a draft law on geothermal that would facilitate the financing could be completed by April.

Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry also reported that three geothermal plants are expected to start producing this year. Patuha in West Java is expected to generate 55 MW by June and is a project of Geo Dipa Energy. Cibuni (2 MW) is also located in West Java and is being developed by PLN, and Ulumbu (5 MW) is located in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara.

The province of Fukushima in Japan has pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040. Recently, the Tsuchiyu resort in the city of Fukushima announced a small-scale geothermal project.

Geothermal is growing around Japan; an article on updates two geothermal projects. Chuo Electric Power Co. is expected to begin operations in April at its new 2-MW geothermal plant in Kumamoto Prefecture; and Orix Corp. and Toshiba Corp. expect to begin service at their plant in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture in spring 2015. The article explains that mid-sized geothermal plants may be easier to build: “While large-scale geothermal plants normally require environmental assessments spanning three to four years, mid-sized geothermal power stations are not subject to such regulations. The purchase price for renewable energy generated by a power plant whose maximum output is less than 15,000 kilowatts is also set relatively high at 42 yen per kilowatt hour under the feed-in tariff system, encouraging new companies to enter the business. The purchase price is set far cheaper at 27.3 yen per kilowatt hour for renewable energy generated by plants with a maximum output of 15,000 kilowatts or more.”

In the Philippines, the state firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. will privatize bulk energy contracts for geothermal power plants in two areas that were hit by the 2013 sypertyphoon. The independent power producer contracts for Mt. Apo 1 and 2 geothermal plants in Mindanao, each with 54.24 MW capacity, are up for auction in the third quarter of 2014, while the contract for the 650-MW Unified Leyte Geothermal Power Plant will be rebid in September of 2015.

Also in the Philippines, Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) is moving forward with its planned 40-MW capacity Montelago geothermal power plant in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. The company is currently negotiating a power purchase agreement with Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (ORMECO) to begin providing 20 MW in 2016. The remaining 20 MW is expected to go to Occidental Mindoro. Power rates in Mindanao could see decreases of 40% from the current price of about P11 per kWh. EPI spokesman Gani D. Capaning told press, “If we keep investing in coal and oil, consumers will be paying P40 per kWh by 2030 if we are to use the estimates of institutions like the International Energy Agency and The Economist. In contrast, the Montelago geothermal power plant will stabilize the price over the next 20 years and consumers will only pay a maximum of P7.50 by 2030.”

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