Industry

Industry

Philippine Resources - November 08, 2021

PH, New Zealand to continue cooperation on geothermal energy

The Philippines and New Zealand will continue to explore cooperation on geothermal energy. This as Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Kell signed the Second Amendment to the Arrangement on Geothermal Energy Cooperation between the two countries on Friday. Cusi said this renewed interest for cooperation is aligned with the country’s push for indigenous energy as a power source. "We welcome the formalization of the Second Amendment to the Arrangement on Geothermal Energy Cooperation which comes at such an opportune time, considering that one of our primary goals is to revitalize the state of geothermal energy development and utilization in the Philippines," he added. Under the agreement, there will be an exchange of best practices and technical expertise in the sector of geothermal energy. New Zealand previously provided the country with developing geothermal fields in Tongonan, Leyte, and Southern Negros Geothermal in Negros Oriental, which are still operating. The DOE has also liberalized the geothermal sector as the government opened it to 100-percent foreign ownership to promote new energy sources. By Kris Crismundo   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Industry

Philippine Resources - October 18, 2021

Siguil Hydro Power Plant in Sarangani On-Schedule to deliver Renewable Energy in 2022

The Alsons Power group’s 14.5 mega-watt (MW) ₱ 4.5 billion run- of- river hydroelectric power plant at the Siguil River basin in Maasim, Sarangani Province is on- track to begin operations in 2022 to provide a source of renewable power to key areas of Mindanao. The photo shows ongoing work on the plant’s powerhouse that will contain the hydropower turbine and generator set which will produce electricity using water from the Siguil River. It will also house the power facility’s control Room and offices for administration, operations and maintenance. Alsons Power- Mindanao’s firs private sector power generator plans to develop at least seven more run of river hydro power facilities in different parts of Mindanao and Negros Occidental.  The group currently operates four power facilities in Mindanao with a total generating capacity of 468 MW serving over 8 million people in 14 cities and 11 provinces.

Industry

Philippine Resources - October 18, 2021

Next Malampaya can be found in Mindanao: PNOC EC exec

As the Malampaya natural gas field is drying up, Mindanao might have the indigenous energy resources to energize the country. In a webinar of Davao International Conference 2021 Thursday, PNOC Exploration Corp. (PNOC EC) vice president for upstream operation Jaime Bacud said Mindanao is rich in indigenous resources that can support the country’s energy requirement. Bacud said Mindanao alone has three sedimentary basins waiting for exploration for oil and gas resources. These basins include Agusan, Cotabato, and the Sulu Sea. “We still think that there is natural gas potential for these areas, and it could be where we could find the next Malampaya,” Bacud added. The Malampaya gas field, which supplies around 30 percent of Luzon’s power requirement, is the country’s lone natural gas source. As the government issued a moratorium on new coal projects, Bacud said oil and gas exploration, particularly in Mindanao, could help in the government’s goal to achieve energy independence. “We still have a lot of natural or oil and gas resources that are still untapped. And this could be our way forward to get closer to what we call energy independence,” he added. By Kris Crismundo   Article courtesy of Philippine News Agency

Industry

Philippine Resources - October 18, 2021

Faster approval process for renewable energy plants sought

Photo credit: SMA Solar Technology - Catalagan Solar Farm A lawmaker on Monday appealed to the Department of Energy (DOE) to expedite the process of approvals for power plants, especially for renewable energy (RE), as the possibility of “energy crunch” looms due to the impact of oil price hikes. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the possible “energy crunch”, or a rise in power and fuel costs, by mid-2022 can cause major problems for countries like the Philippines that import non-renewables for its energy needs, as it could dampen economic recovery. “The world is facing what could be a year of price hikes on coal, oil, natural gas, and other non-renewable energy sources. We are facing a confluence of factors. Oil is back where it was pre-pandemic. Natural gas is at all-time highs,” Salceda said. In response to disruptions and price hikes in fossil fuels, he recommended that the country diversify its energy portfolio quickly. “RE is just 24 percent of our energy sources, when we are both a net importer of fossil fuels, and an excellent location for all sorts of RE. One problem appears to me to be the approval process,” he said. He noted that the Renewable Energy Law imposes much more requirements on RE players than on traditional fossil fuel plants, which tend to discourage rather than encourage RE power plants. “We may need to review the Renewable Energy Law to see how we can expedite approval processes. The pre-development stage also tends to be long, up to three years, so we have to see how we can move quicker with that stage,” Salceda said. He said the ideal mix should be at least 40 percent renewable energy. “Our international commitment is to get that up to 35 percent by 2030, but we should do ourselves better by aiming for 40 percent, since almost all of our fossil fuels are imported,” Salceda said. Salceda also suggested that DOE should be a more regular part of discussions on the country’s economic recovery. “I’ve seen the national employment recovery strategy (NERS) and it says nothing about new power plants, which we sorely need, and which will definitely create new jobs. It’s not even in the National Employment Recovery task force,” he said. He said approving the creation of pending power plant applications will create new jobs. “You also need cheap power to create jobs. Moving forward, I hope the DOE is part of discussions on our economic recovery. Power costs remain an investor concern and a dampener on economic recovery,” he said. By Filane Mikee Cervantes   Article courtesy of Philippine News Agency

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021

Power firm launches multi-sectoral movement for carbon-neutral PH

Photo credit: Mike Gonzalez - Southern Negros geothermal plant, Negros Oriental, Philippines  Racing against time to address the worsening climate change crisis, multi-sectoral representatives have joined a movement initiated by geothermal power leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC) aimed at attaining zero carbon emissions among businesses in the country. EDC, the country’s largest renewable energy producer owned by First-Gen, which operates the 222.5MW Southern Negros Geothermal Plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental, spearheads the movement dubbed Net Zero Carbon Alliance, a media release from the power utility said Tuesday. Launched virtually on Monday, the movement pushes for the country to become carbon neutral, in line with the Department of Energy’s goal to reduce emissions by as much as 75 percent. This is part of the government’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the landmark global United Nations’ Paris climate change agreement or COP 21 (Conference of the Parties). “We are putting into action our revitalized mission in the Lopez Group to ‘forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future’ by seeking partnerships and synergies with fellow enterprises in the country,” EDC president and chief operating officer Richard B. Tantoco was quoted as saying. The Net Zero Carbon Alliance Program aims to “provide partners with a roadmap to attain carbon neutrality through the sharing of best practices and scaling up of carbon emission offsetting and tracking, as well as assistance in obtaining third-party certification of carbon emissions and offsets, and even access to “green” financing, among many other capacity-building tools,” EDC said in its media release. Partners in the carbon-neutral alliance will be guided by EDC’s experience as a carbon-negative company through its 100 percent renewable energy operations and the protection and restoration of the forests within its geothermal project sites. Partners can also adopt practices from EDC decarbonization mechanisms. The pioneering members of the Net Zero Carbon Alliance include homegrown enterprises ArthaLand property developer, Lopez Group affiliate First Balfour construction company, Drink sustainability communications agency, Silliman University, as well as the local operations of multinational firms Analog Devices, Coca-Cola, Knowles Electronics, and Unilever.     “We are extremely excited with the enthusiastic participation of our partners and we are looking forward to working with more and more enterprises in the local business sector as we move toward our common goal of mitigating the global challenge of climate change,” Tantoco said. EDC is the country’s biggest 100-percent renewable energy (RE) company that accounts for over 40 percent of the Philippines’ RE output and serves about 10 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand with its installed capacity of almost 1,500 megawatts (MW). Its 1,181MW geothermal portfolio accounts for 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and has put the Philippines on the map as the world’s third largest geothermal power producer. By Mary Judaline Partlow   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 09, 2021

DTI invites Japanese firms to invest in PH industries

Photo Credit: PhilStar Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has urged Japanese firms to invest in the Philippines as opportunities for manufacturing, construction, and energy remain high despite the pandemic. In a virtual Philippine economic briefing for Japanese companies Tuesday, Lopez said Japanese investors may look into opportunities in the production of semiconductor and electronic goods, as well as manufacturing of medical devices. “(M)edical devices manufacturing is also a growing industry backed by the presence of supply chain for manufacturing such as tool and die, chemicals, semiconductors, plastics, and metal parts necessary in the production of medical devices and its parts,” he said. Lopez said as the government aims to build its healthcare facilities, demand for medical devices is expected to increase. “The local medical device market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 8.8 percent and would rise to USD884.3 million by (the) end of 2024,” he said. The DTI chief said Japanese firms likewise have a big market to tap in the domestic construction sector driven by the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, housing backlog, office space requirement, transport sector demand, supply chain industry, power demand, and demand for more healthcare facilities. Under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the government has a total of 119 infrastructure flagship projects. Japanese firms were also encouraged to look into opportunities in the residential sector as the housing backlog is expected to reach 12.4 million units by 2030, while the office market needs nearly 370,000 square meters of office spaces between 2021 and 2025. Lopez further said there is also growing demand in the transport sector, with transport infrastructure requiring investments amounting to USD100 billion for the next decade. With the growing economy, demand for power is also expected to increase. The local supply chain industry, on the other hand, requires investment amounting to PHP14.07 billion in the next 10 years, particularly investments for warehouses, cold storage facilities, container yards, and integrated logistics depots. With the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Lopez said there is an urgency to build more healthcare facilities in the country. “The Philippine health system is limited to cope with the growing number of confirmed and suspected cases. The current hospital bed-to-population ratio is at 1:984,” the top trade official said. In the first quarter of the year, Japan was the top source of investment pledges in investment promotion agencies amounting to USD215.36 million.

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 07, 2021

DOE expects 7,712 MW more power supply until 2027

Photo Credit: Panay News Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the country may expect additional 7,712 megawatts of power supply from 2021 to 2027. During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People late Thursday night, Cusi said the construction of new power sources is underway this year and in the coming years to augment the needed power requirements as the Philippine economy continues to expand. He said between 2016 and 2020, installed capacity grew from 21,424 MW to 26,287, increasing by 4,863 MW. Cusi added that the energy stakeholders have been preparing for the anticipated depletion of the Malampaya natural gas field through building new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and exploration of indigenous power sources. By next year, two LNG projects are expected to go online—the LNG project of AG&P and Osaka Gas by the second quarter and the LNG facility of First Gen and Tokyo Gas by third quarter, Cusi said. “Aside from LNG, we continue to pursue the exploration of our indigenous resources like gas and oil in the West Philippine Sea,” the energy chief said in Filipino. He added five service contracts were awarded since the government lifted the ban on exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea last year. “The agency has recommended the awarding of four more service contracts for exploration in the West Philippine Sea,” Cusi added. He said the DOE continues to partner with the international community to study potential power sources in the future. The DOE has partnered with Australian and Japanese firms to study hydrogen as the fuel of the future. Cusi said the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee is also looking into the potential of nuclear energy to be part of the country’s energy mix. He said the DOE assures there is a sufficient supply of power across the country, additional power capacity to be installed in the coming years amid the growing demand, and lowering power rates.   Article Courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

Industry

Philippine Resources - September 02, 2021

Gov’t gets P1.7-B royalty payment from integrated energy firm

The government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), has received nearly PHP1.7 billion in royalty payment from integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) for the second quarter of the year. In a statement Tuesday, SMPC said this is the highest quarterly royalty payment to the government after the firm recorded a revenue of PHP14.8 billion from April to June 2021. SMPC’s revenue in the second quarter of 2021 was supported by all-time high coal sales and higher average selling prices. Of the PHP1.7 billion turned over to the government, PHP1 billion will go to the national government that can be used to fund programs to fight coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Some PHP666 million will go to local government units (LGUs) that host SMPC mine sites --PHP136 million for the province of Antique, PHP300 million for the municipality of Caluya, and PHP230 million for Barangay Semirara. Under the Local Government Code of 1991, host LGUs of petroleum, coal, geothermal, hydrothermal, and wind facilities shall receive 40 percent of the royalty proceeds. “The pandemic has taken a significant toll on our country. We hope that our contribution can help boost our government’s response against Covid-19,” SMPC president and chief operating officer Maria Cristina Gotianun said. SMPC is the country’s lone power producer that mines its own fuel source --integrating its coal mining and power operations to create a local value chain. Based on its website, SMPC generates 900 megawatts of power with an additional 1,200 MW of coal-fired power in the pipeline.

Industry

Philippine Resources - August 06, 2021

Law Establishing PH Energy Research Institute Inked

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute to enhance the country’s capability for energy research and policy development. Republic Act 11572, signed by Duterte on July 30, establishes the institute as an independent agency attached to the University of the Philippines (UP) with a separate budget from the premier university. Under the new law, an executive director to head the institute shall be a recognized expert in energy research and policy development with at least three years experience in the energy sector and shall have a strong organizational management background. The executive director, appointed by the UP President upon recommendation of the Executive Board, shall serve in full-time capacity for a term of five years which may be renewed. The institute’s Executive Board shall be composed of seven members comprised of the UP President as the ex-officio chairperson, and at least one representative from the fields of engineering, law, science, statistics, economics, social science, and public health, either from the academe or the private sector. Four members shall come from the academe, two members shall come from the private sector, while each representative shall come from different fields. Other members of the Executive Board shall be chosen by the UP President. Each member shall have a term of three years, which can be renewed for two more terms. The first two appointees from the academe and the first appointee from the private sector shall have a term of two years, which can be renewed for two more terms. The Executive Board may invite the secretaries of various government agencies as well as legitimate consumer and advocacy groups as resource persons during its meetings and deliberations. The institute shall support further education and training for its officers and employees to include advanced degree studies, short-term programs, online courses, and participation in conferences. Research papers, data, and other resources shall be made available to the public through its website. However, proprietary or confidential data and other resources cannot be posted or disclosed unless prior consent of the source or owner of such data and resources has been obtained by the requesting party. A Special Account in the General Fund (SAGP) for energy research, which shall be maintained and managed by the Bureau of Treasury, shall be established to support the research undertaken by the institute. The SAGF for energy research shall recognize and accept grants, contributions, and donations collected for energy research. A total of PHP200 million will be appropriated out of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the initial operating fund of the institute. Such amounts necessary for the sustainable operations of the institute shall be appropriated from the GAA based on the annual financial plan approved by the Executive Board and submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. Government agencies concerned are authorized to include in their respective annual budgets such necessary amounts as their contribution to the funding of certain research activities in the institute. Within 90 calendar days from the effectivity of the act, the UP, in consultation with the members of the academe, and other public and private stakeholders shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations of the act subject to the approval of the UP Board of Regents.

Industry

Marcelle P. Villegas - June 29, 2021

Renewable Energy project with German Biogas Tech and METPower Venture Partners

To support the Philippines’ renewable energy transformation initiatives, a comprehensive training series on biogas technology was launched by a German biogas technology provider -- Lipp GmbH, and the German Biogas Association (GBA), along with German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI / AHK) [Deutsch-Philippinische Industrie-und Handelskammer]. Their training series covers the functionality, use and maintenance of biogas system in the Philippines.

Industry

Abe Almirol - June 23, 2021

Cagayan River Rehabilitation: Initiatives from Ridge to Reef

After two severe weather disturbances that took place in the first half of November 2020 heavily hit eight regions in the Philippines, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte immediately signed Executive Order No. 120 creating the Task Force Build Back Better (TF-BBB) to initiate a comprehensive and integrated recovery. Cagayan and Marikina valleys suffered the heaviest damage and human casualties as floods and its aftermath landslides placed many parts of the country in a state of calamity for weeks. Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) made its landfall on 1 November 2020 and several days after its onslaught and in almost the same path, Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) carried with it heavy rains as it reached the Philippine shorelines on 11 November 2020. Tuguegarao and Marikina cities were in deep floods as Ulysses traversed the Philippine area of responsibility. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported over 2.3 million people affected across eight regions in the country. Reports indicated that 23,089 individuals displaced were moved to evacuation centres while 46,987 individuals displaced stayed outside evacuation centres. The death toll from Ulysses has reached more than 70. It has severely damaged property and infrastructure in some areas. Videos circulating in social media showed floods reaching the roofs in some parts of Cagayan and Marikina City. Two agencies, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), were given the lead role in a task force working on an operational mode adopting the “whole-of-society approach”. All government agencies and instrumentalities were mandated by EO 120 to take part. After eight months of work, the TF-BBB has made significant gains in pursuing rehabilitation and post-recovery initiatives. DENR has realised that problems such as this needs to consider all factors affecting the whole watershed catchment basin where floods occur. Environmental advocates and experts often refer to this approach as the ridge-to-reef initiative. "In the months since we set out to work in November last year, we have now set into motion significant post-disaster recovery initiatives in three priority geographic areas involving the restoration of Cagayan, Marikina, and Bicol River basins," DENR Secretary and TF-BBB chair Roy A. Cimatu said. Cagayan River Dredging: Agencies in Action Cimatu and TF-BBB co-chairperson Secretary Mark A. Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led the ceremonial dredging of sandbars along Cagayan River’s constricted midstream and planting of Bamboo seedlings on the riverbank of Barangay Bangag in the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan last 2 February 2021. After removing the sandbar obstacles that impede water from flowing freely, the roots of planted Bamboos should serve as a soil binder to keep the riverbank intact in the future. There are three priority sandbars to remove near the Magapit bridge, measuring about 235 hectares with an estimated volume of seven million cubic meters, according to TF-BBB statements captured by the media. The first phase of DPWH dredging operations targeted this choke point which a past study identified as the cause of flooding in Tuguegarao City and other settlements near the riverbanks. TF-BBB in Region 2 is chaired by Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan of the DENR and co-chaired by Regional Director Loreta Malaluan of the DPWH. In her message during one of the virtual sessions of the task force, Director Bambalan lauded the different government agencies for their support to the Build Back Better initiatives in the region. "The regional TF-BBB is not only addressing the protection and conservation of the environment but also the welfare of barangays and families affected by the restoration of the Cagayan River," Director Bambalan said. In that meeting, the DPWH discussed the dredging operation and riverbank protections works. The Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development gave an update on the status of resettlement projects while the Office of Civil Defence reviewed the improvement of systems and essential services. The Department of Trade and Industry also presented its accomplishments on livelihood projects. For its part, the Department of the Interior and Local Government presented its agenda for strengthened governance and mainstreaming of disaster-risk reduction and climate change action. Representatives of the Land Registration Authority also attended the meeting. The LRA will be the partner agency of the DENR for the easement recovery along the Cagayan River. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has trained residents who were eventually hired as laborers and equipment operators to help carry out the dredging operations. TF-BBB has also engaged the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) to provide employment assistance to 120 residents for the planting and nurturing of bamboo trees in Tuguegarao City and the towns of Alcala, Enrile, and Gattaran. This will be implemented through DOLE's "Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers" or TUPAD program. Magat Dam blamed In many reports published and echoed in mainstream media and social media, the opening of the Magat Dam floodgates was blamed as the cause of flooding. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) came out with a fact check to clear its liability. Even the Senate initiated moved to investigate the matter. NIA’s acting department manager of Public Affairs and Information Office, Eden Victoria Selva, came up with a comprehensive technical response, explaining that the Magat river is just one of the many river systems draining to the Cagayan River. “It is noted that the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River is 25,400 m3/s while the maximum volume of water released from the Magat Dam is only 6,706 m3/s indicating that water discharge of Magat Dam due to Typhoon Ulysses is not the main cause of massive flooding in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan,” Selva said in an article that appeared in INQUIRER.net on 10 June 2021. The controversial statements blaming the Magat Dam’s release of water also aroused public perception that points responsibility to the occupants of watershed areas in the upstream of Magat River. Those affected by the floods were quick to call for punitive actions against watershed occupants, including calls to ban mining in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, including those issued with legitimate permits to operate. Sharing the Burden of Watershed Restoration and Protection In the watersheds upstream of the Magat River, a 10-year project co-funded by the Republic of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency is nearing completion. It is called the Forestland Management Project (FMP), a sequel of the several forestry sector projects implemented by the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau in the last 30 years. FMP is a holistic approach in Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) areas in sub-watersheds in the upper areas of the Cagayan River, particular the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Quirino. FMP is also present in the Upper Pampanga River in Nueva Ecija and in Jalaur River in Iloilo. Anselmo Cabrera, an Institutional Development Specialist working at the Central Project Management Office of the FMP at the DENR Central Office, has proposed a cost sharing mechanism that Watershed Management Councils should develop for mainstreaming. He said there must be a system where every citizen or institution using water can pay for environmental services performed by duty-bearers protecting and maintaining watersheds. Through a cost sharing mechanism, communities living in critical watershed areas will be compensated for their efforts to ensure there is sufficient forest cover. With this scheme, upland farmers could minimize soil erosion by planting permanent crops instead of clearing spots to plant vegetables and other short-term cash crops. The FMP has so far initiated several hundred of hectares planted with coffee, Guyabano, Rambutan, and other fruit bearing trees. About 35 people’s organizations benefitting over 5,000 households, mostly from Kalanguya, Ibaloi, Isinai, Iwak and Ifugao indigenous cultural communities, LGUs were also called to take a more active role in watershed protection. Cabrera welcomes the favourable result of the Mandanas Ruling, where local governments won in getting their share in revenues collected outside the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The Supreme Court has ruled that LGUs can now get a share from the collection of the Bureau of Customs and other national revenues. Information available from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) revealed LGUs, which include provinces, municipalities, and barangays, could get as much as 37% increase in their internal revenue allotments from the national government in 2022. A DBM advisory directed LGUs to use these additional money to fund the full devolution of services, of which, integrated social forestry is one. Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos M. Padilla made a friendly overture when nasty comments were posted over social media by angry residents of Tuguegarao City who wallowed in deep floods for several days after Typhoon Ulysses. Some people accused people in Nueva Vizcaya of denuding the watersheds. Relief goods from Nueva Vizcaya were immediately sent in flood-stricken areas, a gesture that Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba deeply appreciated publicly. He also called for collaboration between people downstream and upstream of the Cagayan River to understand and take actions together. During the last Watershed Management Council meeting, Gov. Padilla reiterated the importance of collaboration and networking to save watershed commons. He recalled a 2018 agreement with stakeholders which includes big water users such as SN Aboitiz and NIA, the two institutions managing the Magat hydropower and irrigation dam in Ramon, Isabela. Also included in the public pledge of support to the 2018 Nueva Vizcaya Declaration on Water are thousands of farmer’s organizations using water resources for irrigation and water utilities, like Solano Water and other entities providing services to majority of urban households. Watershed Management Councils were potent avenues for collaboration in watershed protection and maintenance. In Davao, a bulk water project implemented by Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. mentioned in a webinar that the Watershed Management Council has played a crucial role in mobilising communities and people. The TF-BBB in Cagayan Valley experience could be one of the best in the current administration’s whole-of-society approach in big projects. By mobilising both government agencies and communities, it has covered all areas of concern from the top of mountain ridges to the reefs in the sea. It would be exciting to measure if the impacts are indeed better ten years from now.

Industry

Abe Almirol - June 11, 2021

DENR Pushes for a $27.5-M Green Cooling Tech Project

Photo Credit: DW In a bid to tighten national policy against ozone depleting substances (ODS), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) initiated a big leap towards cleaner technology among industries using cold chain facilities. The environmental agency wants the Philippine government to promote low carbon, energy efficient systems to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFC in industries requiring heavy use of refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Cold chain covers every product that needs cooling from the farmgate to the dining table, including aspects such as transport, storage, transformation, and packaging. So far, sectors dependent on cold chains are the biggest users of ODS. The Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines (GPI-FCCP), a project which got a $27.5 million funding from the Global Environmental Facility, shall carry out a strategic positioning of environment-friendly cold chain technology across the country. “Refrigeration systems for transporting goods in the food industry will no longer use ODS-HCFC. Stringent policies are important in providing a stable investment environment for investors in ‘green’ cooling technologies,” the DENR said in a statement. The new policies will affect national standards for flammable refrigerants and energy efficiency. GPI-FCCP will also initiate a high-level training for fifty (50) local engineers, system suppliers, and end-users on the use of innovative cold chain technology that are currently used globally. Stakeholders’ participation As a project assisted by the international funder Global Environment Facility (GEF), the GPI-FCCP also includes the training of two hundred (200) key stakeholders on energy-efficiency and climate-friendly cold chain technologies. These trained stakeholders shall serve as champions in the advocacy to popularize new technologies replacing ODS-HCFCs. The major implementers of the GPI-FCCP are the DENR and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The German international cooperation agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) also serves as a co-financer of the project. Agricultural commodities such as meat, dairy, fish, and a broad range of vegetable crops need cooling and freezing systems while in transit, during storage, and at the display shelves. Traditional practices using natural cooling could be seen during harvest times in most farms in the Philippines. The lack of access to refrigerated transportation vehicles taught farmers in Northern Luzon that it is best to transport vegetable products to Metro Manila at night, where heat is lesser, and traffic is lighter. Some known HFC and HCFC alternatives used in Europe include R32 refrigerants tested to have lower global warming potential (GWP), Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), and HFC-HFO blends. A European expert said there is no “cure all” alternative because there are varied safety and thermodynamic properties among refrigerants. Some alternatives do no work well in certain types of products and equipment. Also, geographical locations may affect the efficiency and effectivity of each kind of alternative. PH compliance to the Montreal Protocol DENR said the green cold chain project came about as part of the country’s compliance to its commitment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ODS. The ozone is the earth’s protective layer, absorbing UV light which reduces human’s exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation, said to be the leading cause of skin cancer and cataract. “ODS includes chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, hydrobromofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide, and bromochloromethane,” DENR explained. Refrigeration technologies have come out as top concern due to low energy efficiency and high global warming potential. Common refrigerants extensively use HCFCs. The Montreal Protocol compelled signatory countries to freeze consumption and production of the ODS-HCFCs. The treaty also called on developing countries to cut by 100% their HCFC production by 2030. Private sector engagement will be crucial in the Philippines’ effort in obtaining knowledge transfer of the most innovative, climate friendly, and energy efficient refrigeration technologies, the DENR said.

Industry

Marcelle P. Villegas - May 28, 2021

Highlights of Australian Embassy Virtual Media Briefing 2021

23 May 2021: In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Philippine-Australia Diplomatic Relations, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and H.E. Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, witnessed the commemorative lighting of the iconic SM Mall of Asia (MoA) Globe with the commemorative logo and images of Australians and Filipinos showing mateship and bayanihan. This event is one of the highlights of the year-long anniversary commemoration in the Philippines and Australia. [Photo credit: Australian Embassy in the Philippines] Every year, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception in Makati with the purpose of bringing together the Australian companies in the Philippines and the local journalists in a business briefing. Last year’s Journalists’ Reception was cancelled due to the sudden nationwide lockdown as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However this year, the month of May had a good start with the launch of their first Australian Embassy Virtual Media Briefing last May 3rd.   The briefing was led by Christopher Lim, Senior Trade and Industry Commissioner of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines. Representatives of the Australian businesses provided reports and updates of their industries’ development, latest projects and trends. For this, they had two speakers, namely: Dave Shiner, Regional Director – Asia for Austal; and J.V. Emmanuel A. “Jocot” De Dios, Chief Executive Officer of Prime Metro BMD. Members of the Philippine press also had a Q&A session with the Australian Ambassador. His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, gave an inspiring speech that focused on the shared values and history of Australia and the Philippines. He covered the topics on Australia’s support for the Philippine’s sectors in agriculture, food industry, education, infrastructure, finance, defence, COVID-19 vaccine supply, disaster preparedness program, and more. He said, “Over the past several decades, we have witnessed the bond between Australia and the Philippines grow stronger and develop into an enduring friendship. We launched the 75th Anniversary celebration on Australia Day in January including the unveiling of the commemorative website mateshipandbayanihan.com.”  The special website of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines contains stories of friendship and partnership over the years. Last May 22nd and 23rd was Philippines-Australia Friendship Day. “Now, we are very pleased to be one of only five countries with an annual friendship day celebration, in our case set by Presidential Proclamation 1282. The Embassy aims to bring the celebration around the Philippines to a different city each year.” Due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 community quarantine rules, the Australian Embassy launched some online programmes to reach out to everyone across the Philippines. The Embassy hosted an online “Stream and Sip” festival highlighting Australian films, music and food last 22nd and 23rd of May. They also featured Australian Music on Spotify and Australian films on Netflix. During the briefing, the Ambassador also expressed his admiration to the Filipino people for their fortitude throughout the lockdowns. He mentioned that Australia has committed 500 million Australian dollars to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and to promote health security in the Indo-Pacific, including in the Philippines. “Australia is committed to providing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia, including through contributing 80 million AUD to the COVAX Facility Advanced Market Commitment to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable.” “As vice-chair of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance Board, Australia successfully advocated for the Philippines to be eligible for COVAX AMC doses, and has advocated for the earliest possible access for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. So, we are pleased that the Philippines has received two shipments totaling 525,600 doses through the COVAX Facility. Now, this is the second highest number of doses delivered in Southeast Asia.” Moreover, he discussed about the development cooperation program of the Australian Government for the Philippines. “And I am also really pleased that Australia was able to redirect our 80 million dollar development cooperation program to reinforce the Philippine response to the pandemic. In fact, Australia’s development program in the Philippines is one of our largest in the world. Our development partnership is focused on achieving a more prosperous, stable, and resilient Philippines.” The Ambassador stressed that while trade is an important factor to develop, economic growth is vital as well to creating sustainable prosperity. “There are encouraging signs, for example, in our commercial ties even through the pandemic. As you know, there are over 300 Australian companies employing 44,000 Filipinos operating here in the Philippines, mainly in business processing outsourcing area (BPOs), mining and services sectors.” He further enumerated on his speech the various infrastructure projects of Australian companies in the Philippines. “And it may interest you to know that Australian companies have been responsible for major developments in the Philippines including the interior design of the new terminal at the Clark International Airport as well as designing the Philippine Arena and that was a company by the name of Populous; the construction of the four-lane Cavite-Laguna Expressway that was done by Leighton Asia; the engineering and architecture for the Manila Clark Railway Project, North South Railway Project, Now that was done by SMEC. The value engineering design for the NLEX and the SLEX Connector Road Project, that was also done by SMEC. And the detailed design for the New Government Administrative Center in New Clark City; tunnelling for New Clark City as well, also done by BMD Construction; and providing advice to most PPP transactions in the Philippines, now that’s Macquarie Capital.” Additionally, he mentioned other Australian companies here in the Philippines such as: Austal, a world-class ship builder; Crone which provides world-class architectural services; Prime BMD, experts in engineering services and project management; Qantas which connects people to Australia; Site Skills in Clark which supports Philippine skills development; Telstra, provider of first class global telecommunications; QBE, one of the world’s top insurance companies, and Orica, known for its world class mining operation. During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Business Mirror and Philippine Resources Journal both asked the Ambassador about his views on the Philippine mining industry, particularly on the Philippine Government’s lifting of the 9-year moratorium on new mining agreements. He replied, “So we think that the lifting of the ban is a really positive step forward for the Philippines because we think that the mining industry, done responsibly, using firms that have the most modern equipment, the most modern techniques that subscribe to world’s standards of mining, can really benefit the Philippines. The Philippines is a natural resource-rich country, and there’s much that could be done here that would really benefit the Philippines’ recovery.” “And Australian firms know that the miners that we already have here - Orica, Oceana Gold, Red Nine - there’s a number of them -- They’re already thinking about what does the future hold for them as a result of that ban being lifted, and they’ve started to reach out to us just in recent times to express interest in mining across the Philippines. So I think that was a very, very positive step for the Philippines and good for Australian mining here, in cooperation and partnership with the Philippines. So, I’m very optimistic about what’s going to happen in the next couple of years about mining, and Australian mining here in the Philippines.” --- The issue on defence and maritime border protection were some of the major topics discussed during the briefing. The Ambassador said, “Through the Australia-Philippines Defence Cooperation Program, Australia is the Philippines’ second largest counter-terrorism and defence cooperation partner. Australia and the Philippines have a long history of Defence Cooperation that dates back to World War II. 4,000 Australians fought here during WW2 of which 92 died.” “We have had an MOU on Defence cooperation since 1995 and the SOVFA was enacted in September 2012.” “Though limited by COVID, we continue to cooperate and with strong focus on education and training both in the Philippines and in Australia with an emphasis on counter-terrorism, in the aftermath of the Marawi siege.” “We will continue to work closely with the Philippine Government to address the ongoing threat of terrorism. We also support modernisation efforts and maritime security engagement. Our defence program is also active in the humanitarian space – from assisting with the post-Haiyan typhoon response to most recently with a 3 million dollar, that’s Australian Dollars that we’ve donated to AFP hospital system to assist COVID-19 relief efforts.” “We also cooperate in the areas of aviation and maritime security, as well as border protection. For both our countries, secure and reliable transportation networks are crucial in helping business and people trade and travel safely. Our Aviation and Maritime Security Division collaborates with the Philippines to improve transport security and enhance operational efficiency. We do this together by improving compliance with international standards and exchange views on transport security best practice.” “Australia’s expanded engagement on maritime cooperation with the Philippines will be a key element of our commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of bilateral relations this year, through a new Philippine Civil Maritime Security Program (PCMSP) which aims to support the Philippines to strengthen its civil maritime security. Australia supports the adherence to international law, particularly UNCLOS, and other norms and laws that govern our international waterways.” He stated that their civil maritime cooperation will focus on: Maritime governance systems, processes, and interagency coordination. Maritime or Marine natural resources management and environment protection. Technical assistance, research, and workshops. “And through this program, the Australian Embassy intends to work with several government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police – Maritime Group, and National Coast Watch Council.” - - - Mateship and Bayanihan are shared values of Australia and the Philippines. The two countries have a long history of partnership and friendship that dates back even during the Spanish colonial times in the Philippines. Their diplomatic bond was tested and strengthened during World War II in the Pacific. One remarkable part of their shared history dates back in the late 1800s when Australia opened its doors to migrant Filipino workers to support the pearling industry in Northern Australia. These Filipinos were called the “Manila Men” and they worked as pearl divers. These Filipino migrant workers played an important role in the development of the pearl, trochus and beche-de-mer (processed sea cucumbers) industries in Northern Australia. A large number of indigenous Australians are descendants of these Manila Men. [1] Other than shared values and history, the Australia-Philippine relations include political, economic, development, defence, security and cultural relations. Australia has an embassy in Manila while the Philippines has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate general in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. [2] Australia’s first Consulate General in Manila was founded on 22nd of May 1946. There are over 250,000 people of Filipino heritage living in the Australia, and there are more than 10,000 Filipino students enrolled in Australian universities and vocational institutions. [3] In celebration of Friendship Day last May 22, the Ambassador launched an online campaign to inspire people across the Philippines to join the celebration by sharing their stories of friendship. “This month of May, I invite everyone to join the celebration on social media by reflecting on our deep relationship and sending messages of friendship using the hashtag #mateshipandbayanihan and #FilAussieDay.” [4] ----- Acknowledgment: Thank you, Australian Embassy in the Philippines. ----- References: [1] https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel161018.html [2] https://www.escapemanila.com/2021/02/philippine-embassy-consulate-australia.html [3] https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/relations.html#:~:text=Formal%20relations%20commenced%20with%20the,in%20Manila%20in%20May%201946. [4] https://mateshipandbayanihan.com/media-statements/dfa-and-australian-embassy-light-up-manila-for-75th-anniversary-of-diplomatic-relations/

Industry

Marcelle P. Villegas - April 01, 2021

Boiler Efficiency for Reduced Carbon Emission and Cost

A case study at the GNPower coal power plant in Mariveles, Bataan GNPower Ltd. Co. (or “GNPower”) is a private limited partnership that was organised and established in 1997 by PMR Holding Corp. as its sole general partner and PMR Limited Co. as limited partner. The company aims to develop, operate and own power generation projects and associated facilities in the Philippines. Through the years, there were changes in the corporate structure and partnerships. By June 2014, the sole general partner of GNPower is GNPower Holdings GP Corporation which is owned by Power Partners, while Power Partners is the sole limited partner.   With regards to their coal energy project, it started way back in 2005. On that year, the partnership began the development of a coal-fired project. It was their first step in creating an “integrated, multi-fuel electricity generation and fuel handling energy complex”. [1] Five years later, the GNPower began the construction of a 2x316MW (net) clean pulverized coal-fired power plant located in Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines (“Mariveles Project”). In this project, GNPower and Power Partners own a significant minority position through their ownership of GNPower Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co. (GMCP). GMCP is the special purpose vehicle established to construct, own and operate the Mariveles Project. [1] In 2013, the coal-fired facility was declared commercially available in the market. It is GNPower’s pioneer project and is the largest greenfield power project that was built in Luzon after the enactment of EPIRA in 2001. GNPower Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co. is now referred to as GNPower Mariveles Energy Center Ltd. Co. Coal is considered a baseload energy resource in the Philippines as it is sufficiently cost-effective in providing a consistent supply of power. Currently, there are 28 coal-fired power plants operating throughout the Philippines. [2] One competitive and significant factor in the industry is the plant’s ability to supply adequate power while burning less coal in the process. In relation to this, a study was conducted by a group of experts to determine how cost-efficient is the operation in the Mariveles Coal Plant. What are the possible strategies they can or have implemented to assure boiler efficiency that utilizes less coal? What is the significance of this study with regards to protecting the environment through reduced carbon emission? “A Study of the Changes in Efficiency of a Coal Fired Boiler Following the Conversion to a Dry Bottom Ash Handling System” is a study done by Artemio Boado (Plant Manager, Mariveles Power Plant), Zhao Peng (Engineering Manager, Qingdao Daneng), Steven Hou (General Manager, Int’l Business of Qingdao Daneng), Wang Yong (Chairman, Qingdao Daneng) and Edgardo B. Cruz (President, Philippine Coal Plant User Group). The study aims to determine and analyse the boiler efficiency of Unit 2 of Phase 1 of GN Power Mariveles, according to measured data before and after the conversion of the bottom ash system from wet to dry which was implemented in March 2018. [3] From their report, GN Power Mariveles Phase 1 consists of 2 x 340 MW T-fired sub critical coal fired boilers (Originally 2 x 316MW).  The boilers were supplied by Harbin Boiler Company of China. This has a wet bottom handling system which consisted of a hopper under the boiler, sealing plate, submerged scraper conveyor, cooling water system, silo and discharger. The wet system was later converted to dry system by Qingdao Daneng Environmental Protection Equipment Incorporated Company (or Qingda) utilising their patented DUNOCON conveyor technology. “Both units were converted and commissioned in a standard scheduled 30-day boiler outage with Unit 2 converted in March 2018 and Unit 1 in February 2019. Since commissioning, both units dry bottom ash systems have operated well and without issue.” [3] “When considering a pulverised coal fired boiler, the application of dry bottom ash handling technology is well proven and has several key advantages over those utilising water for the cooling and transportation of bottom ash. Along with the elimination of water handling and treatment, reduced power consumption, reduced maintenance etc, a significant amount of energy can be returned to the boiler from the reduction of energy losses at the boiler throat, waste heat from the bottom ash and the reduction of unburnt carbon in the bottom ash.” [3] “However, in order to realise these potential benefits, the dry bottom ash system needs to be carefully designed and operated to ensure that the cooling air quantity and distribution through the conveyor and into the boiler are optimised.” [3] Boiler efficiency testing standard For this study, the efficiency of the boiler unit is determined basically by following the testing standard ASME PTC-4.1. (Further calculation methods not considered in ASME PTC-4.1 have been supplemented to compute for the credits specifically due to the adoption of dry bottom ash technology. [3]) There are two ways to compute for the boiler efficiency testing: (1) direct method (2) indirect method. Direct method is obtained by the ratio of energy gain of working fluid (water or steam) compared to the energy input into the boiler. Here is the formula they used: Comparative analysis of boiler efficiency (1) Direct method Based on Table 1 and Figure 2, that coal consumption has reduced by an average of 2.12% over a boiler load range of 320 MW to 340 MW since the retrofit conversion of Unit 2 to a Dry Bottom Ash System.  Table 2 is the operating data from the owner with the boiler load between 339 and 340 MW which can be used to calculate the boiler efficiency using the ASME PTC4.1 direct method. [3] (2) Indirect Method For the Indirect Method, the study explored the various factors in measuring the efficiency of the boiler system. These factors include: a) dry flue gas heat loss Dry flue gas heat loss is the main reason of boiler heat loss. Using formula (2), various heat losses are discussed here: Based on this data, there is no significant change in the flue gas temperature at the inlet of air preheater, and the oxygen content decreases. With the help of the advanced air control DUNOCON system, “the cooling air quantity is controlled quantitatively to the maximum extent”, thus no excess air enters the boiler through dry bottom ash handling system. The other dry system has multiple air doors, but DUNOCON has only one air door on the head of the conveyor which is interlocked with the ash temperature of conveyor outlet. As an effect, “the cooling air quantity has been limited to maximum extent under the premise of ensuring the ash cool down effect”. [3] The DUNOCON also has a special penetration heat transfer design that improves the cooling efficiency and reduces the need for cooling the air. In addition, this helps the unburned carbon at the bottom ash re-burn and recovers its heat.      In this part of the study, the boiler efficiency is increased by 0.382%. ----- Other factors under indirect method: b) heat loss due to evaporation of water formed due to H2 in the coal, c) heat loss due to H20 in the coal d) heat loss due to H20 in the air e) heat loss due to incomplete combustion of combustible gas “The heat loss due to the incomplete combustion is principally concerned with the losses resulting from incomplete combustion of the gaseous products such as CO, H2 and various other hydrocarbons which can potentially be found in the flue gas of a boiler. Considering Mariveles Unit 2 is a large modern Utility Boiler, then we will assume that the losses through the incomplete combustion of gases is negligible for this study.” [3] f) heat loss due to Boiler Surface Heat Loss, Radiant Heat Loss, and Convective Heat Loss “This study assumes that the Boiler Surface Heat Loss and Convective Heat Loss will not be have been affected by the changes to the bottom ash system. However, due to the change from wet system to dry system, the radiant heat at the boiler throat is recovered back to the boiler by the cooling air.” Based on their calculations, the boiler efficiency is increased by 0.11% because of the radiant heat recovered through the cooling air. g) heat loss due to unburnt in fly ash i) heat loss due to bottom ash in the wet system All the bottom ash is cooled by the water. As a result, there is a loss of all the sensible heat associated with the bottom ash. In comparison, the dry system uses the cooling air to recover the bottom ash sensible heat and reintroduces it to the boiler. In addition, part of the unburned carbon in the ash can burned during the transportation process and the heat will be recovered by cooling air. Also those heat generated improves the boiler efficiency. ----- Regarding the carbon combustion quantity during the conveying period, the study reported the following test list: Carbon content in wet ash 4.59% Carbon content in dry ash 3.5% This shows that about 1.09% of the carbon in the dry bottom ash reburns and releases heat. Those heat is also brought back to the boiler by the cooling air. The unique penetrating cooling action of the DUNOCON system increases the contact area between the bottom ash and the cooling air, and increases the combustion probability of carbon. Qt=174876 KJ/hr From the formula (16), the boiler efficiency increase R2=0.016%. [3] To sum up, the efficiency of the boiler is increase by 0.51% after the retrofit in indirect method. Cost and energy conservation a) From the table 1, the average coal consumption before and after the retrofit of boiler is 208t/h and 204.45t/h under 330~340MW. Assuming that the annual operating time of 8000h, the annual coal saving is about 28,400t. [3] b) Comparing this with the wet bottom ash handling system, the dry system has no circulating water system, thus the system is simpler and the operation is fully automatic. Additionally, the power consumption of dry system is lower than wet system. c) After the retrofit, the daily maintenance work of dry system is almost zero. Compared with the wet system, it saves a lot of labor cost for the power plant. d) Studies show that for every 1% increase in boiler efficiency, 2% of carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced [5], so the dry system also contributes to the reduction of emissions.   In conclusion, based on the study and analysis, the Unit 2 boiler efficiency of GN Power Mariveles Plant increased about 0.51% after retrofit to DUNOCON dry bottom ash handling system. The reduction of flue gas quantity is the main reason to improve the boiler efficiency. The advanced air control technology of the DUNOCON system is an important key point. “The recovery of radiant heat from the boiler throat and sensible heat from the bottom ash also improves the boiler efficiency. The improvement of boiler efficiency saves about 28,400 t of coal for the power plant every year. And compared with wet system, dry bottom ash handling system is more advanced, safe and stable, and saves a lot of operating costs for the power plant.” ----- Since the early 1990s, GNPower Ltd. Co. has been excelling in the power industry with their remarkable achievements in the completion of power projects. Their power plant projects had been providing electricity supply services to several Philippine-based customers. Other than developing coal-fired plant in Mariveles, (GNPower Mariveles Energy Center Ltd. Co.), they also have the GNPower Kauswagan Ltd. Co., and the upcoming GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. Of note, GNPower is the first Retail Electricity Supplier (RES) to be licensed by the Energy Regulatory Commission. They are also the first to have signed long-term power supply agreements with a group of Contestable Customers since 2006. GNPower also adheres to the mandate of the EPIRA Law of Department of Energy.   ----- Acknowledgement: Mr Edgardo B. Cruz of Philippine Coal Plant Users Group and Mr Ariel Punzalan of PMR Group and GNPower Ltd. Co. References: [1] Retrieved from the company website of GNPower Ltd. Co. - https://www.gnpower.com.ph/about-us-new/ [2] Chavez, Leilani (Nov. 5, 2020). Mongabay News. "Philippines declares no new coal plants — but lets approved projects through". [3] Boado, Artemio, Cruz, Edgardo B., et. al. “A Study of the Changes in Efficiency of a Coal Fired Boiler Following the Conversion to a Dry Bottom Ash Handling System”.

Industry

Marcelle P. Villegas - April 01, 2021

Discovering the World’s Largest Caldera: An Interview with Geophysicist Jenny Anne Barretto - Part 2

“I always say that you don’t have to be a genius or a math wizard to pursue a career in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics]. It may mean working harder, but your love for learning and discovery will sustain you. Never stop being curious and take every opportunity to learn.” (Jenny Anne Barretto) Last year, Philippine Resources Journal interviewed geologist and marine geophysicist Jenny Anne Barretto during an online talk show and forum in New Zealand titled “NetKapihan”. She shared the story on how she and her team discovered the world’s largest caldera located in Benham Rise (also known as Philippine Rise) – the Apolaki Caldera. Ms Barretto is a Filipina scientist who works in GNS Science in New Zealand. She graduated with a degree in MSc Geology from the National Institute of Geological Science in University of the Philippines (UP). She was also an instructor in UP for five years. Since 2007, she has been assisting coastal States like the Philippines and the Sultanate Republic of Oman in delineating their continental shelves as defined in UNCLOS Article 76. Ms Barretto was a key scientist of the technical working group that successfully confirmed the continental shelf of the Philippines in the Benham Rise region. In 2019, Ms Barretto and two colleagues, Ray Wood and John Milsom, published a paper in Marine Geology Journal titled, “Benham Rise unveiled: Morphology and structure of an Eocene large igneous province in the West Philippine Basin”. In this paper, they reported the discovery of what may be the largest caldera in the world. They named this the Apolaki Caldera, a tribute to the "god of sun and war" in Philippine mythology. How big is this caldera? It has a diameter of ~150 km, which is 90 km bigger than the Yellowstone Caldera in Wyoming, U.S.A. “My co-authors and I were part of the Benham Rise continental shelf technical working group. Back in 2008, we only analysed the bathymetric, geological and geophysical data for the purpose of proving that Benham Rise is part of the Philippine continental shelf. That is by showing that Benham Rise is physically connected to Luzon,” Ms Barretto said. On Part 1 of our interview, she also discussed the possible mineral resources available in the area. “With the presence of the caldera, exploration geologists will say that the possible mineral resources are volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits which are significant sources of metals (largely Cu, Zn, Pb ± Au).”   She also noted, “The available data supports our interpretation of the existence of the caldera. However, it is not impossible that other scientists or even us (me and my co-authors) may find later evidence refuting it. It’s just how science works.” For part 2 of this interview, we shall discuss further the features of the Apolaki Caldera, its origins and possible dangers it might pose future. We also asked Ms Barretto about the difference between working as a scientist here in the Philippines and abroad, plus her message for young people who aspire to pursue a career in science. PRJ: Bathymetric surveys were used to identify the morphology of the caldera. What other data sets (such as seismic or gravimetric surveys) are available to model not only the surface but also the structure of the caldera? Ms Barretto: Yes, multibeam bathymetry data was the primary data used that led to the identification of the caldera. There is only one existing multichannel seismic reflection profile that crossed the caldera from which we identified ~1km of sediment fill, which is unusual for oceanic plateaus because these submarine features are commonly blanketed by thin sediments. Single channel seismic reflection profiles across Benham Rise show less than 500 m sediment blanket which is supported by drill cores from DSDP Site 292. There was also a 2D gravity model which included a thick pocket of sediments in the same location as that depicted on the seismic profile. I went through all the data we have from 2008 and availed of other data in the public domain. Reading John Milsom’s previous interpretations of seismic and gravity data in Benham Rise, I realized that a way to explain the relatively thick pocket of sediments on the summit that he pointed out was the presence of a caldera. So that began our work together to prove or disprove the presence of a giant caldera on Benham Rise. The seismic interpretation and gravity model were made years before we noticed the caldera feature. The presence of the caldera gave sense to the existence of the thick pocket of sediments. Future work should include deep penetrating 2D multichannel seismic reflection survey complemented by gravity and magnetic studies would help verify the existence of the caldera and associated structures and could also provide insight into magma chamber dimension and geometry. And of course, ultimately drilling within the caldera feature to get rock samples. PRJ: Apolaki Caldera would be far the largest caldera in the world with 150 km diameter. Circular morphological structures of that size are known from impacts of meteors. Hence, could this not be a large impact structure? Ms Barretto: Yes, that’s a possibility that’s why in our paper we compared Apolaki’s morphology with both impact craters and known giant calderas. Results of that comparison exercise show that Apolaki exhibit more caldera-like features than impact crater-like features. PRJ: Such a huge caldera requires a similarly large magma-chamber or call it a huge “hot-spot”. Hot spots in the earth mantle are relatively stable but the earth crust is moving over such a hot-spot and creates a chain of volcanoes (see Hawaii island chain). In the case of Apolaki, the crust was not moving over the hot spot and volcanic activities occurred at stable positions. Could that not be an indication that the volcanic activity was much smaller without forming a caldera? Hence, the structure might be caused by an impact?  Ms Barretto: Yes, huge calderas imply an underlying equally sized magma chamber. In our paper, we suggested that the formation of the Apolaki Caldera (the collapse) may not have been simply caused by magma withdrawal from its magma chamber. Pre-existing large scale structures (i.e. faults and rifts) related to seafloor spreading and rifting most likely facilitated the collapse. The lithosphere on which Benham Rise (and of course, Apolaki Caldera) was moving over a hot spot. The mantle plume or hot spot supplying the magma chamber that formed Apolaki Caldera is believed (by scientists who have worked in the region) to coincide with a spreading ridge (the now extinct Central Basin Spreading Center). So as spreading was occurring, the lithospheric plates on either side of the spreading ridge were moving away from the ridge. At the same time, the mantle plume underneath was supplying magma in excess of what the spreading ridge would normally produce and therefore create a chain of oceanic plateaus. Each oceanic plateau is split as the lithospheric plates moved away from the spreading ridge creating paired plateaus on either side, like twins. Urdaneta Plateau is interpreted by many ay Benham Rise’s twin. They are equidistant from the Central Basin Spreading Center and have similar ages. Oki-Daito Rise is an older oceanic plateau on the Urdaneta Plateau’s side. It was hypothesized by Ishizuka et al. (2013) that its twin which is supposed to be on Benham Rise’s side has either subducted or accreted with the Philippines. PRJ: Do you think the presence of the Apolaki Caldera will put the Filipino fishermen in danger in the future? Ms Barretto: No. Available data show that volcanism ended on Benham Rise (including its spurs) about 26 million years ago. Threat of a volcanic eruption in that area is very low. PRJ: What are your future projects or current endeavours with regards to marine geophysics and geology? Ms Barretto: For New Zealand, I’m currently involved in a research programme looking at next generation geothermal resources. I help put together available magnetic data for the Taupo Volcanic Zone which will help find deeper geothermal energy sources. I’m also leading a science education outreach project funded by the NZ government. My team and I will bring an augmented reality sandbox in different remote North Island primary schools teaching students about land and water interaction. For the Philippines, I’m currently doing research with John Milsom and Ronaldo Gatchalian of NAMRIA about the gravity variations over the Zambales Ophiolite. There’s also ongoing work to explain the Luzon syntaxis (the bent shape of Luzon). There’s more work to be done on Benham Rise, but at the moment we are unable to find funds to do them. PRJ: What are some of the challenges or difficulties you have experienced as a geologist/marine geophysicist in the Philippines? How does it compare pursuing this career in New Zealand? Ms Barretto: Funding for research is always a challenge for scientists anywhere in the world, but more so in developing countries like the Philippines. Like anywhere, we scientists in NZ need to write proposals and compete for government funding. However, there is more funding for research available here in NZ than in the Philippines. There is more support for scientists. Working in NZ is also more relaxed with no need to beat the traffic to and from work. Even if government pay in NZ is less compared to industry, it is still enough to have a decent living. Back in PH, I have to do consultancy work in addition to my teaching job at UP to make ends meet.   PRJ: For the young people, what message would you like to impart to them that would encourage them to pursue a career in geology or in any field in science? Ms Barretto: I always say that you don’t have to be a genius or a math wizard to pursue a career in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics]. It may mean working harder, but your love for learning and discovery will sustain you. Never stop being curious and take every opportunity to learn. Acknowledgement: Thank you, Ms Jenny Anne Barretto for sharing your amazing story, and GNS Science for the opportunity to write about this discovery and study. Thank you, Sir Rene Molina and NetKapihan for inviting me as panelist in your radio show in New Zealand. PRJ would also like to thank Dr Friedrich Bandelow for his contribution in the technical discussion in the interview, and science journalist Angelica Yang for guidance and support.

Join the Philippines'

Mining and Construction Community

Be the "First" to get our exclusive Digital Magazine & Newsletter.