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Asia Minute: Increased Interest in Geothermal Energy in Asia Pacific

Gretar Ívarsson

Warnings from a UN panel this week about the pace of climate change are putting a new focus on the use of fossil fuels. When it comes to one form of renewable energy, several countries in the Asia Pacific are expanding their goals.

The government of the Philippines is taking a fresh look at geothermal energy. Several exploration surveys have been announced — looking for locations that might be appropriate for utility plants using energy from volcanoes to generate electricity.

The news site says seven geothermal fields in the Philippines now supply about 12 percent of the nation’s electricity needs, and the government wants to nearly double that capacity by the year 2040.

Indonesia has boosted its capacity for geothermal power generation, and last month announced a joint exploration program with the government of the Netherlands. While energy officials say Indonesia holds vast potential for using geothermal, it has been relatively slow to transform that potential into actual electricity.

The energy situation remains uneven across the island archipelago — about a quarter of Indonesia’s residents don’t even have access to electricity.

Credit Rjglewis / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Exterior of 100MW geothermal power plant at Kawerau, New Zealand.

Government leaders in Jakarta want 90 percent of Indonesian households to have electricity by the year 2020 — targeting 5 percent to come from geothermal power by the year 2025.

Geothermal goals in Japan are more modest. Government energy targets released earlier this year include 22 to 24 percent renewable sources by the year 2030 – with about 1-percent of that coming from geothermal.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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