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16 November 2010 in The Visayan Daily Star

Power firm to infuse P37.5B into economy with the use of agricultural waste

An $80 million 35-megawatt multi-fuelled biomass power plant, the construction of which is targeted to begin in Sagay City in 2011, will infuse P832.2 million into the local economy in the first year of operation and P34.7 billion after 25 years aside from providing electricity, David de Montaigne, president of Global Green Power PLC Corp., said yesterday.

The 35-megawatt power plant will also create 3,400 jobs and bring about 14,000 people out of poverty, said Montaigne, who led a Global Green team that briefed Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Sagay City officials led by Mayor Rafael Leo Cueva at Natures Village Resort in Talisay City.

The P34.7 billion to be infused in Negros Occidental by the biomass power plant will be for payment of biomass or agricultural wastes purchased from farmers estimated at P9.9 billion, collectors and transporters – P9.9 billion, local community involved in the waste collection – P13.2 billion and salaries of power plant staff – P1.4 billion, Montaigne added.

The Philippines, especially Negros Occidental, has a great abundance of agricultural waste to fuel the power plant, making it “the Saudi Arabia of Biomass,” he said.

In fact Negros Occidental has the capacity to produce 1,064 percent more than the fuel requirements of the 35 megawatt plant of 318,720 tons of agricultural waste, he added. The waste will include cane tops, bagasse, coconut husks, rice husks, rice straw, corn straw, corn cobs, and pineapple, wood and banana waste, Montaigne said.

That way the money paid by Negrenses for their power is plowed back into the Negros economy and not sent off to Saudi Arabia or some other country in payment for foreign fossil fuel and coal, he added.

Unlike bioethanol, biomass power does not compete for crops used for human food, he also said.

Cueva said Global Green is eyeing the purchase or lease of land in the 100-hectare Sagay economic processing zone owned by the city government in Barangay Paraiso for its plant.

Montaigne said they chose Sagay because of its strategic location, available roadways, and being close to grid and water supply.

Global Green is building four biomass power plants with Negros Occidental ranked third in the pipeline.

It expects to complete construction of a 17.5MW biomass plant in Mina, Iloilo, and 17.5MW plant in Nueva Ecija in 2012, while the 35MW Sagay plant which construction is expected to start in third quarter of next year is targeted for completion in April 2013, Montaigne said.

Construction of a 35 MW plant in Bukidnon is expected to begin in January 2011 and be completed in October 2012, he added.

Montaigne said among the advantages of a biomass power plant is it mitigates climate change, provides significant employment, delivers base load capacity through decentralized renewable energy, provides additional income to farmers from agricultural waste, and displaces fossil fuels and saves use of foreign currency for its purchase.

“Our plant will far exceed the local requirements of environmental acceptance, as well as the current World Bank and International Finance Corp. guidelines for power plants,” he added.