Powering the Philippines through Renewables

Australia Awards alumnus Daryl Marc On has been working to make the production of geothermal energy more efficient

As the Philippines grapples with energy security and high electricity costs, Australia Awards alumnus Daryl Marc On has been undertaking research that will help ensure sustainability and efficiency in the production of geothermal energy.

A native of Pangasinan, Daryl is currently a Reservoir Engineer at the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the world's largest vertically integrated geothermal energy company. When Daryl applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship in 2017, he was already immersed in the geothermal industry, which provided him with leverage in conducting research on geothermal energy for his re-entry action plan (REAP).

"A finite element is a modelling tool, which leads to more efficient operations of geothermal production fields. The cheaper the cost of operations, the cheaper the cost of electricity," Daryl explained.

While he already has the field data for research from his years of work in the industry, Daryl said it was essential for him to learn modelling techniques, which his Australian university provided. "I chose Master of Engineering Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Wales because it is one of the best in Australia in the field of engineering," he said.

Modelling for efficiency

Daryl completed his REAP in 2019. EDC, the host organisation for his REAP, supported him throughout his journey because they saw the relevance and potential of his research, not only in the work they do but also to the country's geothermal industry.

"Daryl's work on finite element modelling as applied to casing stresses will be useful in our assessment of casing failures, and our planning for mitigating measures to avoid such. This can also be applied in our casing material selection when we do our well designs, especially if we need to drill with virulent fluids" said Francis Sta. Ana, EDC's Head of Geoscientific and Resource Services.

Benefitting the industry

While the geothermal industry is a relatively small field in the energy sector sector in the Philippines, Daryl's REAP will nonetheless benefit a majority of the geothermal fields in the country since EDC provides 62% of the country's total installed geothermal capacity. His research is already accessible by geothermal scientists and engineers from across the Philippines and beyond at https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/WGC/papers/WGC/2020/33010.pdf

Ritchie Angcoy, Head of Strategic Technology and Innovation at EDC and one of Daryl's mentors, is eagerly anticipating the fruits of Daryl's research: "I have always imagined a scientific arsenal that will complement our frontline experiences on the ground. I am excited about the infinite possibilities arising from Daryl's work on finite element modelling."

Daryl will present his research and findings at the World Geothermal Congress in May 2021, which is organised by the International Geothermal Association (IGA). IGA is the leading global platform on geothermal energy and serves as a hub for networking opportunities aimed at promoting and supporting international geothermal development.

Expanded horizons

"The experience I gained from my postgraduate study, through Australia Awards Scholarships, opened my eyes to the outside world. I was given the opportunity to work with people from other cultures and travel to new places. I gained new skills and knowledge and expanded my network, that I could share with my colleagues to further advance geothermal energy."

Moving forward, Daryl aims to do more. Currently, he is assigned as a subject-matter expert in another project involving finite element modelling.

"Ultimately, I want to help advance the modelling capability of the geothermal energy industry in the Philippines. By doing so, we can help power generation companies become more efficient, which will then translate to cheaper electricity costs for consumers."