28 OCTOBER 2012
DOE banks on farmers’ backup to sustain R&E output
Farmers in the agricultural sector will play a key role in the government’s effort to sustain the development on renewable energy in the country, according to an official of the Department of Energy.
“We want to put up more biomass power plants because they are cheaper in cost and it can help provide for additional income for farmers,” said Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug, in a forum on Renewable Energy organized by the Management Association of the Philippines – Agri-business Countryside Development Foundation.
Layug said there was a huge potential for agricultural sector to become partners of DOE in developing RE projects in the countryside, particularly on agricultural wastes for biomass plants.
Based on studies, the Philippines could generate substantial volumes of agricultural wastes, or residues, such as bagasse, coconut husks and ricehulls, which can be utilized as energy fuel.
Layug said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) granted DOE with technical assistance for more wind energy sources, while the USAID provided for technical assistance on biomass.
Assistance are coming from Japan International Cooperation for Assistance (JICA), which has just finished its resource assessment for potential run-of-river hydroelectric power plants in Luzon and Visayas.
He said a German-based company is also helping the DOE on solar projects.
“So you can see that all multi national and global funding agencies have moved toward renewable energy as well,” he said.
The DOE said the country’s potential for biomass production stood at 235 megawatts only.
“The reason for such a small number is that we haven’t finalized yet our resource assessment on biomass. What we’re proposing is to bring these biomass plants near the area where these agricultural products are being grown,” he said.
To increase potential energy from biomass, Layug said the DOE was conducting research and development on feed stocks like cassava and sweet sorghum. This is on top of the on-going research on sorghum initiated by the previous administration.
“What we do is to conduct research and development on the potential feed stocks like cassava and sweet sorghum for the renewable sources of energy. We will let the investors know the result of these once we are able to finalize its outcome,” Layug said.
“Pwede na naming i-propose yan sa mga farmers para yan ang itanim nila but right now nasa R&D stage pa tayo,” he said.
“Usually, the investors ang pumupunta sa DOE para mag apply sila ng service contract. Yung mga investors na yan ang lalapit sa mga farmers natin para bilhin yung kanilang mga agricultural wastes,” he said.
While there is no specific areas being targeted for biomass production, the DOE is going around the Philippines to identify other available agricultural wastes.
On Jetropha as possible oil source for biomass, he said initial reports have not been so encouraging.
“So far base dun sa reports hindi pa encouraging, we were hoping it will yield more oil but based on study provided by UP Los Banos, hindi pa ganun ka encouraging yung results . They need to study it further.
Layug said the government needed to find more renewable fuels as an alternative for oil, which the country is heavily dependent upon.
“While we are indigenous to the extent of 60 percent, the problem is these conventional fuels will deplete. In fact Malampaya natural gas will start to deplete by 2015, the problem with that is if we don’t find another gas reservoir in the Philippines then we have a big problem.
Whenever bad incident happens in the Middle East we are affected because we import all our oil requirements. The same thing goes for coal,” he said.
“Because oil and coal are fossil fuel they will eventually deplete. Coal is based on market price. So the price becomes volatile, we’ve seen that in 2008,” he said.
Layug said the Philippines faces a big problem as Indonesia, where the country imports 95 percent of coal need, already announced two months ago that by 2015 it will no longer allow exports of coal.
“Why? Because they need more coal, that’s the problem for us, we don’t have too much production. If they don’t allow us to buy coal anymore where do we source our coal from?,” he said.
He said the country’s production of coal, mainly from Semirara, ends up being sold to China, the biggest producer of coal.
The country’s power sources come from a mix of natural gas, which accounts for 30 percent, all of them from Malampaya, another 30 percent from coal, all imported, and the remaining 30 percent from renewable energy
Read article source in Positive News Media