Engaging fellow geothermal enthusiasts in technical fora is part of Ritchie’s job
QUICK READ: In their own humble means, every one of EDC’s employees is a regenerative wellspring of goodness and love.
By Erlindo “Ritchie” Angcoy, Jr.
It is refreshing to write anything less technical or something without a To:, Cc:, and subject lines again. Historical compositions indicate an apparent eight- to nine-year cycle of my writer’s itch. I was a newly hired employee in November 2004 when I shared my first Corporate Social Responsibility experience in Lake Danao, Leyte that I captioned “Reinjecting It Well.” In 2012, I wrote an essay on Energy Development Corporation’s core value of Nationalism, and now I write the second of my Well Series in time for the 45th year of a company as young as me.
Around mid-2000, I marveled at the endless sight of Saudi Aramco’s depot, the source of their country’s geopolitical influence, and wondered if there is a Philippine equivalent. Coincidentally, an email beckoned for an OFW to come home and be part of an indigenous resource that can uplift our countrymen’s plight. After 16 years, I continue to grapple with why geothermal, which is an enormous amount of energy beneath our feet, contributes only less than 1% of the world’s energy needs. It is the Holy Grail among renewable energy technologies considering that it is clean, baseload, reliable, and stable—or simply Geo 24/7 as what we in EDC call it. What more can any power consumer and investor ask for, right? But while advances are happening all over, the basic concept of geothermal operations is still hinged around a steam-driven technology developed in the Victorian era. Partly and intuitively, that is where the motivation comes. But maybe more deeply, I cherish being part of the bigger scope—from a catalyst of national development to having an even wider global stake in climate change.
Reawakening a gigantic but sluggish renewable energy source is both exciting and daunting. Influenced by a resource management background, together with a small band of fellow advocates, we wrap our heads around the idea of converting some drilled geothermal wells from a status of idle to useful. We endearingly refer to our project as Lazarus, aiming for a miraculous way to resurrect dead yet valuable assets. As we firmly keep our feet on the ground to be in touch with current and relevant needs, we also continue to scour the stars for technologies and developments that will help transform our industry. This daunting task has put me in a unique and sometimes enviable position where personal and professional growth became as inevitable as change, thanks to various touchpoints:
- Collaborating with technology providers ranging from established giants (diversifying from a previously oil and gas focus and moving toward the alluring light of renewable energy) to young, aggressive, innovative start-up groups bringing in concepts from other fields. At best, my task is to make the perfect match of some specialty concoction of chemicals, a network of subsurface heat exchangers, maybe a plug-and-play personal power plant that you can install in your own backyard, some noble plastics or materials to protect pipelines from scaling and corrosion, or a powerful Thanos-like power that disintegrates wastes and converts them to valuable products. At a minimum, the aim is to keep the communication lines open and relationships warm
- Convincing our technical stakeholders to appreciate that new gadgets and methodologies don’t sound crazy as they seem but can have a mutually happy place in their short- to long-term needs
- Gaining support from commercial groups and helping debug technical and commercial viability, realizing that they need not be a chicken-and-egg conundrum but can be parallel universes that serve either as turbo boosters or speed bump checkpoints to these initiatives
- Engaging thought-provoking viewpoints of the hawks and the doves among the approving officers, eventually reaching a team consensus that we put the right investments amongst “rushians and urgentinian” priorities. To hear their outspoken challenges and still muster enough courage and faith to trump your combined fears and doubts
- Bridging the on-time, on-cost, and on-scope bottom-line objectives with the finer point mandates of design, supply chain, and legal support groups who all do the unenviable dirty work of exorcising the devil in the details
- Developing interests among the academe and research institutions to debunk biases that geothermal is an elite or specialized niche but is rather an inclusive platform or oasis where their diverse and independent works can co-mingle and synergize
- Connecting with your own teammates to share your dreams and stretch beyond their core functions and business as usual (BAU) even without prospects of recognition or reward but only modest pride and fulfillment
Early on in my EDC career, I jokingly referred to myself as one of the company’s GROs or Geothermal Relations Officer, who readily offers orientations to diverse audiences of visitors, students, trainees, new employees, officers, investors, and external stakeholders. Looking back, I realized that passion prepared me to evolve into the same GRO, but now of the Geothermally Regenerative Order. EDC is no longer just a source of immense energy, power, or influence. It is also not the mythical Midas that turns everything it touches to gold, for not all that glitters translates to success or joy. In our own humble means, each and every one of us is EDC’s regenerative wellspring of goodness and love.
I have spent 16 of my good years in EDC, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary by honoring stakeholders that include employees like me for their regenerative partnership after all these years. Why that Holy Grail of energy from beneath the earth contributes only less than 1% of the world’s needs may still elude me, but I know that our company will always find a way to use geothermal power to E-D-C: to Empower communities, to Do more for the Earth as we cultivate lush forests filled with Philippine native trees species through our BINHI for our geothermal recharge, and to Cultivate relationships with other partners in order for us elevate everything we touch.
Ritchie is the head of EDC’s Strategic Technology and Innovation-Subsurface Group / Geothermal Resource.
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.