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.
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.
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.
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.  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.  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.  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.”  ----- Acknowledgment: Thank you, Australian Embassy in the Philippines. ----- References:  https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel161018.html  https://www.escapemanila.com/2021/02/philippine-embassy-consulate-australia.html  https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/relations.html#:~:text=Formal%20relations%20commenced%20with%20the,in%20Manila%20in%20May%201946.  https://mateshipandbayanihan.com/media-statements/dfa-and-australian-embassy-light-up-manila-for-75th-anniversary-of-diplomatic-relations/
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”.  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.  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.  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.  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.”  “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.”  “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.”  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. ) 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.  (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”.  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.”  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%.  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.  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 , 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:  Retrieved from the company website of GNPower Ltd. Co. - https://www.gnpower.com.ph/about-us-new/  Chavez, Leilani (Nov. 5, 2020). Mongabay News. "Philippines declares no new coal plants — but lets approved projects through".  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”.
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.
Marcelle P. Villegas - January 21, 2021
Eleven Filipino Scientists Listed in Asia’s Top 100 List
By Marcelle P. Villegas Last year (2020), eleven Filipino scientists were included in the Asian Scientist Magazine 100 list for most outstanding researchers and scientists. The list pays tribute to the best and brightest in Asia in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning, Singapore-based magazine about science and technology. It features the latest research and development news stories in Asia. Their online and print publication is managed by a team of professional science journalists, with contributors from industry and academic background.  Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary, Fortunato de la Peña said, “I am proud. Eleven out of 100 among so many Asian countries is a sizable share.” He notes that two of the those listed are heads of DOST agencies, namely; Dr Carlo Arcilla of Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and Engr. Robert Dizon of Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC).  According to Asian Scientist Magazine, “Arcilla received the Gregorio Y. Zara Awards for Basic Research in 2019 for his contributions in resolving sensitive issue on mineral resource development, water management and developing peaceful application of nuclear energy in the Philippines.”  A report from Philippine News Agency mentioned, “Dr Arcilla has been encouraging the use of nuclear power in the energy mix, saying this could also help lower one’s electricity bill.”  The Gregorio Y. Zara Award was established by the family of National Scientist Gregorio Y. Zara and the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science in 1968 to honour the most outstanding national scientists of the Philippines. Ever since the award already recognized 70 Filipino scientists and researchers. National Scientist Dr. Emil Q. Javier is also included in the list. Dr. Javier was Minister of Science from 1981 - 1986 when DOST was still called the National Science and Technology Authority. He is the 42nd National Scientist of the Philippines and one of the only 11 distinguished awardees living today. Just last year on 7 January 2019, President Rodrigo R. Duterte conferred the Order of National Scientist on Dr. Javier at the Malañang Palace. The Order of National Scientist is the highest honour that the Philippine Government can bestow on the Filipino scientist for his/her outstanding contribution to fields of science and technology.  Academician Dr. Javier was recognized by the Philippine Government for his remarkable studies and writings about the application of biotechnology in agriculture for the alleviation of poverty. He is notable for his significant contribution to the plant breeding research. He is the founder of the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) in University of the Philippines Los Baños in 1975 where their research is about produced high-yielding crops and disease-resistant varieties. On the molecular microbiology for medical application, scientist Raul Destura of the National Institutes of Health in the University of the Philippines Manila is also included in the list. In 2019, he was awarded the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award for his exceptional work in the development of the Biotek-M dengue aquakit for fast and affordable dengue diagnosis. Currently, Destura is also the lead researcher in the locally developed diagnostic kit that aims to detect COVID-19. Two other achievers are from University of the Philippines, namely Alonzo Gabriel and Cleotilde Hidalgo-How. Gabriel is a researcher on microbial stress adaptation on food safety and quality. Hidalgo-How is recognized for her work in the understanding, management and diagnosis of tuberculosis in children and adolescents. From De La Salle University (DLSU), Raymond Tan and Susan Gallardo were recognized in the list. Last year, Tan is a recipient of the Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Advanced Research for his contribution in the development of novel computational techniques for the design and sustainable industrial systems. For Engineering Research, Gallardo was awarded the David M. Consunji Award for her work about environmental engineering and catalysis and industrial and hazardous waste treatment and management. From University of Santo Tomas, academe Alicia Aguinaldo made it in the list. She was awarded the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies Shimadzu Achievement Award for Chemical Research for her research on Philippine plants that have anti-tuberculosis and anti-diabetic properties. Another academe, Emma Sales from the University of Southern Mindanao was given recognition for her work in establishing the first tissue culture and biotechnology laboratory in Soccsksargen (Region XII) for developing diagnostic tools for the identification of durian fruit, rubber and mango varieties. The list also cited Joselito Chavez of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. He is a recipient of the 2019 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award. His work is about the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in severe leptospirosis. In 2019, eight Filipinos were included in the Asian Scientist 100 list. Among them was Gay Jane Perez for Environmental Sciences and Geology.  She is an assistant professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology at the University of the Philippines. Since 2012, she is the President of the Geosciences and Remote Sensing Society. In 2018, USAID-Philippines recognized her as the Philippine representative as one of the finalists for ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women. This was for her work on precision agriculture for improved yields by using remote sensing and satellite data. Asian Scientist Magazine is published by Wildtype Media Group Pte Ltd. The company is a digital-focused media business for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Wildtype Media Group Pte Ltd. Is also the publisher of Supercomputing Asia, a print magazine about the high-performance computing sector.  Reference:  Asian Scientist Magazine. Retrieved from - https://www.asianscientist.com/about/ and https://www.asianscientist.com/scientist/carlo-arcilla/  Arayata, Maria Christina (10 October 2020). Philippine News Agency. “11 Filipinos among Asia’s top 100 scientists”. Retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1118115  National Academy of Science and Technology website. “Malacañang confers the Order of National Scientist on Dr. Emil Q. Javier”. Retrieved from - https://www.nast.ph/index.php/13-news-press-releases/475-malacanang-confers-the-order-of-national-scientist-on-dr-emil-q-javier  (7 May 2019). The Good News Pilipinas Team. “8 Filipino Scientists Among Asia’s Best”. Retrieved from - https://www.goodnewspilipinas.com/8-filipino-scientists-among-asias-best/
Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
President Duterte at the 37th ASEAN Summit
By Marcelle P. Villegas President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse, Malacañang Park. (Photo credit: King Rodriquez / Presidential photo, Presidential Communications Operations Office website) President Rodrigo R. Duterte attended a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, South China Sea dispute, trade and other issues. The virtual event is the plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that will last until November 25. On his speech, he asserted the Philippines’s arbitral win and emphasised the legal victory is now part of “international law”.  He said, “The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).” “The 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of UNCLOS. It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful.” President Duterte also emphasised the need to fast-track a “Code of Conduct” in the South China Sea in order to promote peace and stability in the busy waterway. “The Philippines is one with ASEAN in transforming the South China Sea into a sea of peace and prosperity for all. We are committed to the immediate conclusion of a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. And if I may add, it has been a long time and it is a long wait,” he said. Since President Duterte assumed office in 2016, he addressed the maritime issue with China through a non-adversarial approach. China has an important role in the President’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program as they had been providing financial assistance to several major infrastructure projects in the Philippines such as bridges and railways. South China Sea Dispute -- In China’s Nine-dashed Line Map the Philippines loses about 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. This loss covers 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space and 100% of the Philippines’ Extended Continental Shelf which covers an estimate of over 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. South China Sea is also rich in methane hydrate which is a potential source of energy. How did the South China Sea dispute start? Why is the Philippines involved in this conflict with China? On 7 May 2009 when China submitted the Nine-dashed Lines Map to the United Nations. Their map claims large areas of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. On the map, China is claiming 85.7% of the entire South China Sea. Their claim covers 3 million square kilometers out of the 3.5 million square kilometers surface area of the South China Sea. Since China did not provide any legal basis for the dashes, and the dashes also had no fixed coordinates, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia protested against China’s claim. The Philippines is greatly affected by the Nine-dashed Lines Map because the Philippines loses about 80% of its EEZ facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. That is around 381,000 square kilometers of loss in maritime space, and 100% of the Philippines’ ECS which covers an estimate of 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. Therefore, in January 2013, the Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s claim on the territories within the Nine-dashed Lines that includes the Scarborough Shoal. Then, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, former Senior Associate Justice of Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, defended the Philippines’ right of ownership of the little islands within our territory to the international Arbitral Tribunal. He pointed out our legal rights through legitimate historical records. It was on 12 July 2016 when the Philippines won the arbitration case it filed against China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The verdict invalidated Beijing’s Nine-dashed Lines Map claim on South China Sea. In response, China refused to accept and acknowledge the arbitral ruling. South China Sea is significant not only to Asian countries but also to the world. Each year, US$5.3 trillion ship-borne goods travel through South China Sea. This number is almost one-half of the world’s shipborne trade in tonnage. Additionally, a great percentage of the petroleum imports of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China pass through the South China Sea. There are also 2 billion people who live in the 10 countries bordering the South China Sea where hundreds of millions of people depend on fish there for their protein. Lastly, the maritime area that is close to the coast of the countries bordering the South China Sea is rich in oil and gas resources. South China Sea is rich in methane hydrate – a potential source of energy. Reference:  Parrocha, Azer (12 November 2020). Philippine News Agency. “Arbitral ruling can’t be ignored by any country, Duterte to Asean”. Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1121630 Photo credit: President Duterte - https://pcoo.gov.ph/news_releases/asean-must-demand-climate-justice-says-president-duterte/ Nine-Dashed Line - Justice Antonio T. Carpio. “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute” - https://www.slideshare.net/SamGalope/lecture-the-south-china-sea-west-philippine-dispute-justice-antonio-t-carpio-philippine-social-science-center
Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
Dept. of Energy: Moratorium on New Coal Power Plants
By Marcelle P. Villegas A moratorium on the endorsements of greenfield coal power plants was issued by the Department of Energy (DoE). This announcement was made while allowing foreign investors to now have full ownership of geothermal plant projects in the Philippines. DoE’s decision to stop the endorsements of coal power plants is the result of an assessment that showed the importance of focusing on a “more flexible” power supply mix. According to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi while at a virtual conference with world leaders held in Singapore, “This would help build a more sustainable power system that will be resilient in the face of structural changes in demand and will be flexible enough to accommodate the entry of new, cleaner and indigenous technological innovations.” DoE is currently updating their Philippine Energy Plan for the next 20 years. Mr Cusi mentioned that DoE is committed to accelerating the development of the Philippines’ resources while “pushing for the transition from fossil fuel-based technology utilization to cleaner energy sources to ensure more sustainable growth for the country.”  According to Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella of DoE, the ban on endorsing new coal-fired power plants will not affect those power plants that have received endorsements in the past. He said, “We need to prepare for the influx of RE (renewable energy) under the recent policies issued by the DoE. Hence, the need for more flexibility.”  On note, 3,436 MV of committed coal-fired power projects in Luzon are ongoing as of August 2020. This includes the Meralco Powergen Corporation and GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. which is a joing venture of the Ayala and Aboitiz groups. Additionally, a 135 MW coal-run power projects in Visayas and 420 MV in Mindanao have been endorsed by DoE. Overall, there are around 10,000 MV indicative coal-fired power plant projects in the Philippines which may receive government endorsements. Mr Fuentebella said these will need to be sorted out. The ban will continue until the country will require additional baseload power, according to DoE official.  In relation to the ban, Center of Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) pointed out that there are still environmental concerns about the existing coal-run power plants in the Philippines. CEED Director Gerard C. Arances said, “That is still concerning and alarming vis-à-vis pollution, climate imperative, and costly electricity in the country.” Another important announcement made by DoE is the upcoming open bidding round of renewable energy service contracts that will now allow foreign companies to own large-scale geothermal projects. This includes exploration, development and utilization. Last 20 October 2020, DoE released a circular providing the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable project contracts. Cusi said, “From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development and utilization projects.” DoE clarified that big geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of about $50 million and are under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements, signed and approved by the Philippine President. Reference:  Ang, Adam J. (27 October 2020). Business World. “DoE bans new coal-run power plants”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/doe-bans-new-coal-run-power-plants/
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 21, 2020
PH now allows foreign ownership of geothermal projects
By Marcelle P. Villegas Department of Energy (DoE) announced that the Philippines now allows foreign companies to fully own large-scale geothermal projects in the Philippines. This decision was made to further promote renewable energy and to shift away from coal as an energy source.  DoE signed the circular on the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the granting of renewable energy service contracts. DoE Secretary, Alfonso Cusi signed it on 20 October 2020. He stated, “From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development and utilization projects.” Geothermal projects are considered large-scale if it has an initial investment cost of about $50 million and approved through a financial and technical assistance agreement. From CNN PH report, “The project is entered into between the Philippine government and the foreign contractors.”  This requires the signature of the President. The Philippine Constitution requires 60% of a public utility to be Filipino-owned. However, DoE said that 100% foreign ownership is now allowed in the renewable energy sector. In 2019, DoE also reportedly allowed foreign companies to fully operate and own biomass power plants. DoE also released a moratorium on endorsement for greenfield coal power plants for sites that have not been used for commercial development or exploration. DoE’s objective it “to further brighten the prospects of our Renewable Energy landscape”. Secretary Cusi also aims for faster implementation of the Philippines’ national renewable energy program, hopefully generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2040. Is geothermal energy the best energy source option we have to prevent an energy crisis from happening in the future? How about solar energy? According to a recent article published by Popular Mechanics Magazine, "It's Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History" by writer and researcher Caroline Delbert, “Solar is now the cheapest form of electricity for utility companies to build.” This is based on the report of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Although the report mentioned that the reduction in cost of solar energy is based on the risk-reducing financial policies around the world, “it applies to locations with both the most favorable policies and the easiest to access to financing.” “IEA’s recommendations include similar projections and calculations for all renewables as well as nuclear.” Moreover, IEA forecasts that solar energy is well positioned to blow up in the next 10 years, “because right now it is in the sweet spot to lower cost and increasing availability… And while the news is very good for solar [power], it is still pretty good for all the other renewables as well as nuclear, the IEA says.” Why is solar power lower in cost of capital? According to Delbert, it depends on many factors. For renewable energy, she wrote, “There are a few low-hanging factors… As people and companies see more successful projects like Elon Musk’s South Australia solar battery farm, their investment confidence grows.” How did this year’s COVID-19 pandemic affect the global development of renewable energy? Last May 2020, IEA gave a market update and analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on renewable energy deployment in 2020 and 2021. They reported that “COVID-19 crisis is hurting but not halting global renewable energy growth.” “Half a year later, the pandemic continues to affect the global economy and daily life. However, renewable markets, especially electricity-generating technologies, have already shown their resilience to the crisis.” As a review of IEA’s analysis for 2020, they reported that global geothermal capacity additions are projected to amount to 0.3 GW in 2020, which is one-third of 2019’s level, which was the highest ever recorded.  “This year, Indonesia is again expected to lead new development, with 145 MV of capacity added (90 MV from the Rantau Dedap plant and 45 MW at the Sorik Marapi plant), followed by Turkey (+70 MV). These two countries are expected to account for more than two-thirds of new capacity additions in 2020, while the Philippines, the United States and Bolivia are responsible for most of the rest.” IEA also noted that this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, a number of projects have been delayed by disruptions to the global supply chain for machinery and materials and by deferrals of strategic decisions, such as decisions in financing. In effect, several small and medium-sized projects originally scheduled to come online in 2020 are expected to be commissioned in 2021 instead.  In Turkey, the 10-year FiT scheme for new plants (originally scheduled to end at the end of 2020) has been extended until mid-2021 in order to cover projects affected by delays caused by the pandemic. (FiT or FIT refers to feed-in tariff. It is a policy mechanism designed to encourage and speed up investment in renewable energy technologies by offering long-term contracts to the producers of renewable energy.) “Global cumulative geothermal capacity is forecast to increase 7% to 16.5 GW by 2022, with Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey and the Philippines responsible for two-thirds of this growth.” IEA also reported that in Indonesia, the state-owned company PT Geo Dipa Energi (GDE) has received a USD 300-million loan from the Asian Development Bank for the 110-MW expansion of the Dieng and Patuha plants, expected to be carried out during 2020 – 2023. “Beyond 2022, Indonesia, Kenya and Turkey continue to lead capacity additions, which are projected to exceed 0.8 GW per year globally on average.” “The Indonesian government recently prepared a roadmap for geothermal energy, with the goal of having 8 GW of installed capacity by 2030 (up from 2.1 GW in 2019). However, wider exploitation of the country’s considerable geothermal potential will require the resolution of a number of challenges, including low energy prices, limited local electricity demand, a lack of capital investments, and environmental and social issues.”  In relation to this, the Indonesian government plans to conduct exploration and drilling in 20 geothermal areas during 2020 until 2024. Their view is to reduce development risks for future auction plans. They are also focusing on coming up with policies with the objective of providing better economic incentives to geothermal projects. If Indonesia overcomes the obstacles, they could match up with the accumulated installed capacity of the United States by 2025. In conclusion, IEA said that geothermal power is also receiving greater interest from oil companies. Most oil companies are open to opportunities to diversify their activities while capitalizing on their drilling expertise.  The International Energy Agency is an autonomous intergovernmental organization that is based in Paris, France. It was established in the framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. IEA is a reliable source of information and statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors. IEA also acts as a policy adviser to its member countries and also with non-member countries like China, India and Russia. IEA’s mandate is focused on effective energy policies related with energy security, economic development and environmental protection. The Agency also promotes alternate energy sources such as renewable energy. Reference:  CNN Philippines Staff (27 October 2020). CNN Philippines. “PH now allows 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal projects”. Retrieved from - https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/10/27/renewable-energy-philippines-foreign-ownership.html?fbclid#.X5jn8RFncGQ.linkedin  Delbert, Caroline (22 October 2020). Popular Mechanics. "It's Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History". Retrieved from - https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a34372005/solar-cheapest-energy-ever/?fbclid=IwAR2SZ1K5JZH6XHDqztP8-DfnY7X2lURKK4OCDxtSf0UFzKA59sC2XgBaLUg  International Energy Agency website. Retrieved from - https://www.iea.org/reports/renewables-2020 and Geothermal abstract Photo source: Philippine Geothermal Production Company, Inc. - https://www.pgpc.com.ph/
Marcelle P. Villegas - June 08, 2020
Geoscience in a Post-COVID-19 World
Dr. Jun Abrajano (Photo credit: GSP and KAUST - Office of Sponsored Research) By Marcelle P. Villegas Last 26 May 2020, the Geological Society of the Philippines (GSP) conducted a webinar with guest speaker Dr. Jun Abrajano on "Geoscience in a Post-COVID-19 World: A Perspective". Dr Abrajano is the Director of the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. These are the highlights of the webinar: “Geoscience in a Post-COVID-19 world: A Perspective.”  (1) The concept of foresight and active resiliency was presented as important in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. This concept looks into understanding the drivers of risk from which strategies and outcomes may be formulated to benefit the communities and from which challenges and opportunities may also be identified. (2) Potential features of a post-COVID-19 world include statistical results showing the negative impacts of the pandemic and COVID-19 global outlook that features the presence of risks arising from prolonged recession, geopolitics, and accelerated technology adoption among others. In a post-COVID-19 world, every business is a health business. More so, it necessitates reinvention of authority among others. (3) The pre-COVID-19 situation of the geosciences plays around the following major considerations: (a) understanding the complex Earth systems; (b) reducing vulnerability and sustaining life; (c) sustainable resource utilization and; (d) growing the geoscience workforce. With the pandemic, granular trends in addressing issues that impact the human life (e.g. geohazards, health-related) can either be accelerated or decelerated. (4) With the pandemic, emerging trends in the activities and opportunities for the geosciences arise. These include (a) identifying the “geo-impact” to human health; (b) having an interface between geology and biology/microbiology and (c) dwelling on real-time observations and big data analytics among others. The resource sector has also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, both positively and negatively. The precious metals and base metals have so far performed well, in contrast to the crude and natural gas sectors which have suffered a downward market trend during this time of pandemic. (5) With the pandemic, foresight would be a prolonged recession or another pandemic occurring. This, however, should be taken also as an opportunity for geosciences, bearing in mind the considerations during the pre-COVID-19 situation as outlined above. GSP provided certificates of attendance to webinar participants. The video recording of the webinar may be viewed at the Facebook page of GSP - https://www.facebook.com/Geological-Society-of-the-Philippines-172188472827844/. ----- About the guest speaker: Dr. Teofilo A. Abrajano, Jr. is a Balik Scientist of Dept. of Science and Technology. His expertise include Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geoscience and Geology, Geochemistry, Isotope Geochemistry, Biogeochemistry. Some of his research works are about ophiolites, petroleum biomarkers, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), isotope fractionation, paleoceanography, isotope analysis, molecular and isotope characterization, molecular tracers, and sediments.  Dr. Abrajano's other affiliations include: ● Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Professor, Isotope Geochemistry, 1998 ● Argonne National Laboratory, South Cass Ave., Argonne, Illinois, Scientist, Environmental Research Division, 1997 - 1998 ● Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Director, Environmental Science Program, 2001 ● Division of Earth Sciences (GEO), US National Science Foundation Arlington, VA, Head, Surface Earth Processes Section, 2006 - 2009 ● Memorial University of Newfoundland, Prince Philipps Drive, St. John's, NL, Canada, Associate to Full Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, 1991 - 1998 Since 2015, he has worked as Director at the Office of Sponsored Research, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. In 1977, he graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City with a degree in B.S. Geology. Then he had his Master's degree in Earth Science in 1981 at the University of Akron in Ohio, U.S.A. In 1984, Dr. Abrajano studied in Washington University, U.S.A. and graduated with a degree as Doctor of Philosophy in Earth and Planetary Sciences. In 2010, he received the Balik Scientist Award from the Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines. ----- One of the attendees of the webinar was Dr. Graciano Yumul, Jr., Executive Vice President for Geology, Exploration and Operations at Apex Mining Co. Inc. After the event, he commented, "The GSP-sponsored webinar yesterday, May 26, 2020, was educational with a lot of practical messages. I learned a lot and I am sure the other participants did too. The webinar meeting went for almost two hours with interesting questions and comments coming from the participants.” “Foresighting, the corresponding drivers, passive vis-à-vis active resiliency, globalization/ internationalization, the World Economic Forum global risk outlook, and the Accenture post-COVID-19 'Human Truths' were some of the takeaways during the meeting. The importance of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and related big data science management were highlighted. Indeed, the FIRe (Fourth Industrial Revolution) is here. But the aspect that I enjoyed most during the talk is the bridging of all these sciences, specifically in the context of the geosciences, with the present realities of the world we live in and the possibilities out there, especially in the context of social and cultural backgrounds." He added, "It was a well-spent two-hour presentation and Q&A session. Dr. Jun Abrajano, as anticipated, has given an excellent presentation. Congratulations to the GSP for this initiative (the second in the series), a welcome respite from the lockdowns and you name what that we are all experiencing now."  Dr. Yumul is a former Undersecretary for R&D at the Department of Science and Technology. ----- Reference  Retrieved from - https://www.facebook.com/Geological-Society-of-the-Philippines-172188472827844/  Retrieved from SPHERES - Specialized Philippine Enterprise Reference of Experts and Scientists http://spheres.dost.gov.ph/sci-profile.php?i=001471
Marcelle P. Villegas - June 08, 2020
German Geologist Conducts Lecture About Taal Volcano
Dr. Friedrich-Karl Bandelow received a Plaque of Appreciation from Divine World College of Calapan -- (Left to right) Dr. Aleli C. Dugan, CPA (Vice President for Academic Affairs), Ms Diana Kyth Conti (Teacher at Divine Word College of Calapan), and Engr. Rosvelinda Luzon Dequiros, LPT, Ph.D. (Dean, School of Education) (Photo credit: Dr. Friedrich-Karl Bandelow) By Marcelle P. Villegas The start of 2020 felt like doomsday when Taal Volcano suddenly erupted. It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines. When it erupted in January, it frightened many people when the sunny afternoon suddenly turned dark and terrifying with volcanic lightning visible through the dark volcanic ash. This resulted in the immediate mass evacuation of almost 1 million people. When it comes to natural calamities, it is often unpredictable, but nature has a way of giving us clues of future disasters. From the point of view of geologists, volcanic eruptions are just part of the natural movements of the Earth’s crust. Looking back on that day, it was Sunday afternoon on the 12th of January when Dr Friedrich-Karl Bandelow, a retired geologist, noticed from his window that the Taal Volcano looks unusual. Although the sky was blue and the weather was sunny, there was something strange about a giant cloud that formed a ring above the volcano. [12 January 2020] “Taal Volcano woke me up. This is a view from my window in Calapan City.” (Photo by Dr Friedrich-Karl Bandelow) In the late afternoon, the skies turned dark and Taal Volcano spewed ashes across Calabarzon, Metro Manila and some parts of Central Luzon and Ilocos Region. . It was a phreato-magmatic eruption, an eruption resulting from the interaction between magma and water. "The upper ring [of clouds] appears to be caused by a phreatic eruption that developed into a phreato-magmatic eruption.” Although volcanic eruptions are disastrous and dangerous, it is no doubt that the volcanic lighting that evening was both frightening and fascinating as it gave a rare and beautiful light show in the night skies. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) issued Alert Level 4 which implies that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days. By 26 January 2020, PHIVOLCS observed an inconsistent but decreasing volcanic activity in Taal, thus they downgraded their warning to Alert Level 3. On 14 February 2020, Alert Level was finally on Level 2 due to consistent decreased volcanic activity.  Educational Event in Calapan Divine Word College of Calapan (DWCC) in Oriental Mindoro requested Dr. Friedrich-Karl Bandelow to give a lecture about Taal Volcano. He received this invitation from Engr. Rosvelinda Luzon Dequiros, LPT, Ph.D. (Dean, School of Education), Fr. Crispin A. Cordero, SVD (President, Divine Word College of Calapan), and Dr. Aleli C. Dugan, CPA (Vice President for Academic Affairs). On 11 March 2020, he then gave a presentation at DWCC with the title "Volcanoes in General and Taal Volcano in Particular". It was a 90-minute lecture with a 30-minute Question and Answer portion. Dr. Bandelow said, “About 80 students from various courses attended the lecture. From each interested course, about 8 to 10 students were assigned and they later disseminated the information to their classmates.” “It was enjoyable to teach and interact with young students. I also felt that I am part of my community in Calapan City,” Dr. Bandelow stated. The purpose of the lecture was to give information about the recent Taal eruption and the history of that volcano. He covered the following topics: Basics About Volcanoes, Volcanoes in the Philippines, Are there Volcanoes in Mindoro?, Taal Volcano: Physiographic Elements, Which is bigger: Taal or Mayon?, Taal Volcano Eruption History, The January 2020 Eruption, Effects of Eruption, and Monitoring and Prediction. “The question if there are volcanoes in Mindoro was of big interest. Some students were living near volcanoes in Naujan and Pola without knowing it. Of course, the question on Taal eruption’s impact on Calapan was also interesting,” he said. Getting To Know The Volcano Here are some key points from his lecture about Taal Volcano: ● Taal is 311 m high. It had a total of 42 eruptions since 1572 ● Taal Volcano Island lies within the Taal Lake. Taal Lake lies within a 25-30 km Taal Caldera formed by explosive eruptions between 140,000 and 5,380 BP (Before Present). Each of these eruptions created extensive ash and ignimbrite deposits, reaching as far away as where Manila stands today. ● Since the formation of the caldera, subsequent eruptions have created a volcanic island within the caldera, known as Volcano Island. ● The center of the island, occupied by the 2-kilometers Main Crater with a single crater lake, was formed from the 1911 eruption. The island consists of different overlapping cones and craters which 47 have been identified.  Dr. Bandelow also discussed the importance of the 1911 Taal Volcano eruption. In 1911, the volcano had violent eruptions. The crater floor was completely changed and the interior was created. There was complete destruction of Taal Island with a death toll of 1100 lives and hundreds of animals died as well. Ash was falling within a radius of about 300 km, 70 to 80 million m3 of ash.  About the January 2020 eruption, he mentioned that the event started with a phreatic eruption. Phreatic eruptions are steam-driven explosions that occur when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks, or new volcanic deposits. The intense heat of such materials (as high as 1,170° C for basaltic lava) may cause water to boil and flash to steam, thereby generating an explosion of steam, water, ash, blocks and bombs.  Effects of the January 2020 eruption: ● More than 1 million people were evacuated. ● The volcano island is off-limits. About 8000 people lost their homes and cannot return. ● The area around Agoncillo and San Nicolas is badly damaged by fractures. ● Fish raising facilities in the Taal Lake were damaged. ● Water level of Taal Lake went down. Pansipit River dried up. ● Crater lake was falling dry and is recovering. How does PHIVOLCS monitor the Taal Volcano? Here are some important eruption precursors: ● Increase in frequency of volcanic quakes and rumbling sounds ● Changes in the water temperature, level and bubbling or boiling activity on the lake ● Development of new or reactivation of old thermal areas like fumaroles, geysers or mud pots ● Ground inflation or ground fissuring - Often surveyed by means of satellite images (interferometry) ● Increase in temperature of ground probe holes on monitoring stations ● Strong sulfuric odor or irritating fumes similar to rotten eggs ● Fish killed and drying up of vegetation Can PHIVOLCS predict the next eruption? PHIVOLCS will determine the alert level (0 to 5) based on the permanent survey of data.  Here is a guide: ● Level 3 indicates that an eruption could occur within the next days or weeks (or not!). ● Level 4 indicates that an eruption is an imminent risk and could occur now. ● Level 5 is on during a volcanic eruption with ash falls, lava flows, pyroclastic flows. Conclusion: Volcanologists are in the position to describe the actual situation and the possible risks but they cannot schedule the events. At the end of the lecture, Dr. Bandelow received a Plaque of Appreciation by the Divine Word College of Calapan. About the Lecturer Dr. Friedrich-Karl Bandelow is a retired geologist living in Calapan City. He studied geology at Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz/Germany and graduated as Master of Science in 1980. In 1981, he joined Montan Consulting GmbH, an international mining consulting company. He was assigned to exploration projects in Germany and Botswana. He arrived in the Philippines in 1983. From 1983 to 1987, he was seconded to a technical aide project as a consultant to the BED, now the Philippine Department of Energy. He later returned to Germany where he focused on his doctorate thesis while working on international projects. In 1997, Dr. Bandelow received his Ph.D. in Natural Science (Dr. rer. nat.) from Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz. From 2011 to 2013, he settled in Jakarta, Indonesia after being assigned as President Director of PT DMT Indonesia. After a year, he returned to the Philippines and based at his home office in Calapan City. He retired from permanent employment in 2016 and is still occasionally working as an independent consultant in the region. Dr. Bandelow is a member of the United Nations - Task Force for Resource and Reserve Classification. He is a registered European Geologist with the European Federation of Geologists. Dr. Bandelow has written 23 publications in international journals with focus on resource classification and coal geology. ----- Acknowledgement: Thank you, Dr. Friedrich-Karl Bandlow, Engr. Rosvelinda Luzon Dequiros, Fr. Crispin A. Cordero and Dr. Aleli C. Dugan, CPA of Divine Word College of Calapan.. ----- References:  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Taal_Volcano_eruption  Bandelow, Friedrich-Karl (11 March 2020). "Volcanoes in General and Taal Volcano in Particular". Lecture at Divine Word College of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.
Philippine Resources - April 09, 2020
Expo Industry Facing the Crisis Head On
The crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic opens the question on how the business sector would respond to the changes this global concern may bring to the economy in the coming months. This is a case where no exemption is given. Businesses, big or small are all dealing with the crisis day by day. For an industry which relies on mass gatherings as part of its lifeblood, the adjustments may not be that easy. Worldbex Services International (WSI), the country’s premiere events organizer, had to postpone some of its major events this year. Even with its banner events at stake including the 25th year celebration of WORLDBEX and the 16th Manila International Auto Show, an event organizer’s priority is the health and safety of its stakeholders, attendees, and employees over anything else. BUILT TO WITHSTAND CHALLENGES This is not the first time the industry faced a struggle which forced expo organizers to re-evaluate their strategy. Looking back at the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the local MICE Industry was challenged. One notable action was done by WSI wherein foreign exhibitors withdrew from the event which pushed the organizer to make a quick and careful decision to further strengthen its local exhibitors’ line-up. The shift in their game plan gained overwhelming support from the industry players up until today. RESPONSE TO CRISIS It has always been the company’s strength to spearhead a platform where businesses can find solutions and opportunities through introduction into new industry connections. With the same foundation, they are already looking into potential scenarios on how expos can address the issues businesses may encounter after the crisis as a way of staying competitive and innovative. Nonetheless, WSI also believes that the focus should all be given to every effort to flatten the curve. In relation, the organizers are proud and honored with the dedication given by PICC and World Trade Center Metro Manila, their second homes, as these venues serve a different purpose to further help the country in solving the crisis. Through the leadership of DPWH Sec. Mark Villar, the transition and conversion of the said venues are being completed ahead of schedule. Once everything is in a more manageable state, they commit to uphold its goal in helping businesses to bounce back with several innovative solutions already waiting in the pipeline for their upcoming events. BEYOND EXPOSITIONS The private sector as key industry players in driving the economy as the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions (MICE) Industry has been a strategic area for boosting tourism and contributes to the country’s gross domestic product. An expo is more than just a showcase. In a time where businesses aim to regain momentum, expos can help kick-start a brand or a product’s action plan. As the game changes and a “new normal” might begin, means and ways may change but the mission will always be the same. The uncertainty of a crisis can’t hold back the Filipino entrepreneur’s spirit. We are resilient when faced with adversity, we adapt to the surroundings, and we always find ways to make things work. We will continue to work and improve as our way of giving back to society. True enough, even with a crisis at hand, we are able to create opportunities beyond expositions.
Marcelle P. Villegas - February 20, 2020
Resiliency and sustainability through geoscience
By Marcelle P. Villegas GeoCon was first organised in 1988 as a venue where the latest development in geosciences are shared and discussed. Each year, new ideas and fresh perspectives are presented through technical reports and exhibits. What is the importance of GEOCON in the Philippines? Since it is a conference where great minds in the field of geosciences gather to discuss, debate or collaborate for continued learning, the event then brings to light solutions to national problems that science can solve. Last December, the Geological Society of the Philippines (GSP) presented GEOCON 2019 with the theme “Geoscience for a resilient and sustainable Philippines”. The two-day conference was held at The Manila Hotel last 4-5 December 2019. Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., Chairperson of GeoCon 2019, gave the welcome remarks on the Day 1 of the conference. He is also Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction -- Climate Change Adaptation. Dr Solidum is also the Officer-In-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Although GeoCon 2019 took place a month before the Taal Volcano Eruption (12 January 2020), Dr. Solidum’s message was regarding readiness in case of natural calamities. “The theme of this year’s GeoCon… should jolt us and remind us of our collective obligation as geoscientists to convey to the most vulnerable sectors of our society the imminent dangers of geological hazards. This is a herculean task which all of us, because of our specialized training, can help achieve.” He said, “We should join hands and we must zero in our common efforts in educating and empowering our people so that they will become more resilient to natural disasters.” Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta, President of GSP, stated, “2019 has also been an extremely challenging one for our country, particularly on matters where the geosciences are central to the issues. Geohazards and resource use conflicts, most especially, continue to cause significant disruptions to the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos. From the water shortages in Metro Manila during the dry months, to the large-scale landslides and floods in Luzon and the Visayas in the rainy periods, and the unusual earthquakes in Mindanao, GeoCon 2019’s theme brings to focus what we, as geoscientists, have done and must further do to contribute to building a resilient and progressive country.” Dr. Dimalanta expressed that there are many changes in the regional and global perspectives which affect the decisions on natural resource use, environmental design and management, and geohazards risk reduction. She also mentioned the urgent need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “[With] barely two years left for the current national government administration, we the country’s geoscientists must assert our relevance in delivering SDG targets. The Geological Society of the Phils., as a collegial body of experts in the various fields of earth sciences, is best poised to address concerns pertaining to the following SDGs: SDG 6: clean water and sanitation, SDG 7: affordable and clean energy, SDG 9: industry innovation and infrastructure, SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities, SDG 14 and 15: life below water and on land, and most importantly SDG 17: partnerships for the goals.” The keynote speaker for Day 1 was Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic Development and Authority (NEDA). The Undersecretary discussed the three key points in her speech: 1) economic and social impact of the disaster on the country 2) the new ecosystems for science, technology, and innovation 3) the challenge with the science community, including the geoscience community. She stated, “The Philippine economy is currently on a high growth trajectory. So at the beginning of 2012, our growth rate has been upward by 6%. We could actually have grown much faster were it not for the damage and losses due to the typhoons and other natural calamities. The UN estimates that we lose about 0.8% of GDP every year due to the combined impact of disasters.” NEDA Undersecretary mentioned that the cost for evacuation and spending in managing an evacuation center is an added expense. When there are natural calamities, loss of productivity happens which in turn brings about the loss of income per day. Other factors that affect and hinder income and productivity are loss of lives, destruction of cultural heritage sites or buildings, and more. These events bring insecurities among Filipinos because during a natural calamity, they are subjected to various threats in their livelihood. In contrast, the Undersecretary presented some good news which is in light of “the new ecosystem for science and technology, innovation". “To be fair, we had been improving towards progress with regards to how we had been addressing climate shocks. In fact, we are the only country with an institutionalised response mechanism [or Institutional Mechanisms for Disaster Response] which includes preparedness measures.” "We have also completed a number of high-resolution geohazard maps." "For the last seven years, the economic growth remains above 6%. With our already released Q3 growth, the Philippines is actually second in terms of economic growth compared to Vietnam 7.3% and even higher than China 6.0%. So our economy has been steadily growing and it is our goal to sustain this momentum in the coming years, and uphold the Philippines' standing as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.” Undersecretary Edillon added, “And to be able to sustain this growth, science, technology and innovation have been identified and prioritised not only as a catalyst to exponentially grow our economy but also as a solution to minimize environmental impacts, efficiently use our natural resources, and build our resilience.” “I've got a piece of good news. In 2019, the Global Innovation Index, which measures the performance of countries in terms of innovations like technological advancements, the Philippines jumped 19 notches, ranking 54th which marks the biggest leap amongst Southeast Asian countries and we ranked 5th behind Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.” Later during the day, the other topics and studies presented were: “Re-opening new paths for the Philippines’ search for energy independence” by Arthur Saldivar-Sali, “Paving a new landscape in risk valuation: The GeoRisk Philippines initiative” by Mabelline Cahulogan, “The October 2019 earthquake sequence: Parameters and impacts” by Jeffrey Perez, and more.
Philippine Resources - November 06, 2019
Harnessing hydropower potential in the Philippines
Together with its client, Cordillera Hydro Electric Power Company’s (COHECO), GHD’s renewable energy capabilities were in the spotlight at the Asian Power Awards, recently announced in Malaysia. Dubbed as the “Oscars of the power industry,” the awards recognize cutting-edge innovation and sustainable development with COHECO’s 60 MW run-of-river hydro project named Hydropower Project of the Year. GHD is the owner’s engineer for the project, which will generate reliable, low-cost electricity and boost socioeconomic growth in the communities of Kapangan and Kibungan in Benguet province, Philippines. Run-of-river hydro schemes do not require reservoirs, reducing cost and complexity and minimizing social and environmental impacts. “It’s a proud moment for GHD and COHECO to be recognized by an esteemed jury of leaders from the energy industry,” shares Darren Shrives, GHD’s General Manager, Philippines. “This award reflects our commitment to create value for our clients, our employees, and the communities that benefit from our work.” “We thank GHD for the nomination and we are one with them in bringing development opportunities and uplifting the living conditions of local communities to propel economic growth,” states Jose Xavier Gonzales, President and Chief Executive Officer, COHECO. “This international recognition affirms the way GHD leverages its global expertise to support us in achieving our business goals.” The project, in development since 2015, involves the construction of a 22-km access road, about 8 km of tunnel, powerhouse, switchyard, surge tank and 24 km of 69 kV transmission lines. In the early stages of the project, GHD undertook an extensive hydrology study to estimate the potential annual energy output for the consideration of potential lenders. The construction of the hydroelectric power plant is estimated to take three years with GHD as owner’s engineer providing technical advisory, project management, construction monitoring and supervision services. This project is a cornerstone in increasing the region’s competitiveness and reinforcing the country’s commitment to increase the share of renewables in its total energy mix, with energy consumption expected to nearly double by 2040.