EDC’s Palinpinon-1 Geothermal Facility celebrates 40 years of renewable power

The Palinpinon-1 geothermal power facility in Negros Island, Philippines (source: EDC)

Originally published on thinkgeoenergy.com

The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) recently celebrated the 40th year anniversary of the Palinpinon-1 geothermal power facility located in the island of Negros in the Philippines.

The 112.5-MW Palinpinon-1 geothermal facility in Valencia, Negros Oriental has been serving the energy needs of the power consumers in the Luzon and Visayas regions since 1983. Located within EDC’s Southern Negros Geothermal Project (SNGP), it is one of the pioneering geothermal energy projects in the Philippines that has brought recognition to the country as the largest vertically integrated geothermal firm in the world.

On its landmark 40th anniversary this year, Palinpinon-1 continues to bring distinction to the Philippines as one of the few existing geothermal fields in the world that have surpassed the usual 25-year life span of geothermal systems and remains in operation, along with its 123-MW Tongonan-1 geothermal power plant that likewise celebrated its 40th year this 2023.

“Much has already been said about how our company started and commissioned Palinpinon-1 in 1983 to reduce our country’s dependence on imported fuel,” remarked EDC President and COO Jerome H. Cainglet during the anniversary celeberation. “How our Subsurface and Facilities Operations & Maintenance teams in EDC have worked hard all these years to be able to find that sweet spot to sustainably generate steam and convert it to the clean energy  that is powering the economic growth of  the Visayas as well as Luzon regions up to now.”

“Looking at how all these components worked separately but toward a common goal of enabling EDC to generate a stable source of 100% clean, renewable power all these years, is like looking at pieces of a sustainability puzzle where people, planet, and shall I say, power or profit, have all been in harmony, resulting in 40 years of Palinpinon-1.”

“Welcome to our new decade for our Palinpinon-1 geothermal facility as we continue to forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future for EDC, for the Municipality of Valencia, for the entire Negros Island, and for the rest of our country,” further stated Noel Tan, EDC’s Negros geothermal facility head, during the event.

Negros geothermal facility head Noel Tan (source: EDC)

Harnessing indigenous energy sources

EDC’s beginnings can be traced under the Philippine National Oil Corporation Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC), which was created to explore indigenous energy sources in response to the global oil crisis in the 1970s. After several years of intensive exploration and development work, Unit 1 of the Palinpinon-1 geothermal power plant came online on June 07, followed by its Unit 2 on July 28, and Unit 3 on September 01 of 1983.

The use of indigenous energy sources in the country increased from a mere 5 percent in 1970 to over 50 percent by 2005, with Palinpinon-1 undeniably playing an important role in boosting renewable energy in the Philippines’ energy mix through its annual power generation of over 1,000 Gigawatt-hours. 

The Mag-aso steam vents, one of many surface expressions of geothermal, has become a popular tourist attraction in Valencia, Negros Oriental (source: EDC)

This commitment to a secure energy future was further undertaken by the Lopez Group in 2007 when it acquired PNOC- EDC’s geothermal operations and gave birth to what is known today as the Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

A beacon of sustainability, beyond geothermal

Elevating the environment as part of EDC’s Geo 24/7 was institutionalized under BINHI in 2008, its flagship regreening program that seeks to propagate endangered, indigenous tree species in order to protect and grow water reservoirs that are critical to geothermal energy production.

The company’s first state-of-the-art vegetative materials reproduction (VMR) or automated nursery facility was set up it its Southern Negros Geothermal Facility in Valencia, Negros Oriental five years ago. It was relaunched in June this year to fortify its commitment to continue greening Negros Island not only through the 100% renewable energy that it generates  24/7 from geothermal but also through BINHI. 

BINHI likewise became EDC’s contribution to the 10 Million in 10 Years Movement (10M in 10) that it launched in 2015 to encourage individuals and organizations to plant, grow, and nurture at least 10 million trees in 10 years to continue greening Negros Island. On its sixth year in 2021, EDC and the rest of its 267 10M in 10 partners were able to complete its target of planting 10 million trees in Negros Island.

In harmony with nature; EDC has taken great strides in protecting the natural environment around the Negros geothermal power facility (source: EDC)

During times of national crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 – 2022 and super typhoon Odette in 2021, Palinpinon-1 and the rest of EDC’s geothermal facilities in Negros Oriental served as a reliable homebase for the company’s community support and disaster relief operations. 

Leaving an indelible mark

The Geo 24/7 facility is part of EDC’s response to the landmark Renewable Energy Code that the local givernment of Negros Oriental has released in 2021. Ordinance No 30 (Series of 2021) applies to “all power generation, transmission and distribution projects” in the province. Section 16 of the Code states that no fossil-fueled power plants will be constructed in Negros Oriental.

All these efforts have indelibly left a positive mark in the lives of EDC’s stakeholders in the province and form part of the legacy of the Palinpinon-1 geothermal power plant as an inextricable part of decarbonizing and regenerating Negros.

Employees at the Negros geothermal facility in the Philippines (source: EDC)

As nations and businesses all over the world continue to pivot to a greener future of energy, Palinpinon-1 geothermal power plant solidifies its role not just as a prized asset of EDC but as an enduring source of pride for the Philippines in the global energy landscape. 

“As I look back at my three decades at Palinpinon Geothermal Power Plant, I am filled with gratitude and pride for the remarkable journey we have undertaken together… I extend my deepest appreciation to each member of the Palinpinon family for contributing to our collective success. Let us continue to be a beacon of safety, setting standards and inspiring others both here in EDC and the rest of the industry,” said Dante Angeles, the current Maintenance Team Head of Palinpinon-1, who had joined the facility back in 1992.

EDC’s entire 222.5MW Negros geothermal facility (Palinpinon 1 and 2, Nasulo) accounts for more than 11% of the Philippines’ installed geothermal capacity.  The company’s close to 1,200MW total geothermal capacity across the country is also responsible for putting the Philippines on the map as the world’s 3rd largest geothermal producer.

Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is First Gen Corporation’s 100% Renewable Energy (RE) subsidiary with over 1,480MW total installed capacity that accounts for 20% of the country’s total installed RE capacity. Its 1,185MW geothermal portfolio comprises 62% of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity, making the Philippines the third largest geothermal producer in the world. First Gen is the Philippines’ leading clean energy company.