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16 firms self-generating 166-MW from biomass energy – Zubiri

An increasing number of private companies are learning the wisdom of generating their own supply of electricity using stored energy from farm waste, former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri disclosed.

The 48-year-old Zubiri, who authored the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, said some 16 large corporations—mostly integrated sugar producers and intensive hog growers—have put up biomass power plants with a combined installed capacity of 166.18 megawatts for their own use.

That’s certainly good news considering the tight supply of energy, what with the hot summer months that require more electricity as people need to cool down with their electric fans and air cons. After all, no one wants to die of heatstroke—a scary but big possibility with the weather bureau registering temperatures of 51 degrees in places like Nueva Ecija and Metro Manila also feeling feverishly hot with 38 to 39 degrees.

“These businesses are not only realizing substantial electricity cost-savings, they are also providing additional income to small planters and creating new farm jobs,” said Zubiri, who is also running for a senate seat in the upcoming May elections.

For sure, the move of these companies to self-generate their power needs will also free up grid-supplied electricity for other industrial, commercial and residential consumers, the former solon pointed out.

According to Zubiri, the biggest biomass energy producer for its own use is packaged food and beverage giant Universal Robina Corp., which has four bagasse-fired power plants with an aggregate installed capacity of 24.65 MW. Apparently, URC has biomass power generators in Piat, Cagayan (5-MW); San Enrique, Iloilo (7.5-MW); Manjuyod, Negros Oriental (9.4-MW); and Sta. Catalina, also in Negros Oriental (2.75-MW).

Recognition must certainly be given to the other companies that have put up their own biomass power plants to produce energy for their own use, and these are Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc. in Nasugbu, Batangas (25.52-MW); Busco Sugar Milling Co. Inc. in Quezon, Bukidnon (24.4-MW); Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Milling Co. Inc. in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental (19.5-MW); Central Azucarera dela Carlota Inc. in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental (18.5-MW); Hideco Sugar Milling Co. Inc. in Kananga, Leyte (11-MW); Lopez Sugar Corp. in Sagay City, Negros Occidental (10-MW); Capiz Sugar Central Inc. in President Roxas, Capiz (5.8-MW); Sagay Central Inc. in Sagay City, Negros Occidental (4.2-MW); Roxol Bioenergy Corp. in La Carlota City (4-MW); Sweet Crystals Integrated Sugar Mill Corp. in Porac, Pampanga (2.8-MW); Amley Natural Energy Corp. in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental (2.5-MW); Bayanihan Feed Products Inc. in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija (2.25-MW); Cavite Pig City Inc. in General Trias, Cavite (1-MW); and Marcela Farms Inc. in Cortes, Bohol (0.56-MW)—and to prove that Happy Hour is an equal-opportunity column—Central Azucarera de Tarlac Inc. in Tarlac City (9.5-MW).

Zubiri added that Cavite Pig City runs a modern, 12,000-head capacity hog farm, while Marcela produces meat and poultry products, milkfish, prawn, tilapia, rice, fruits and feeds.

Many recognize that Zubiri’s authorship of the Renewable Energy Law, which seeks to lessen our dependence on imported fossil fuels, has fast-tracked the development of the country’s “green” energy resources, which has also contributed to driving jobs growth in the countryside. According to the Renewable Energy Management Bureau, more than 2.9 million jobs—mostly in construction and engineering services—have been created by the boom in biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro power projects.

Aside from the private firms’ 166-MW biomass power production for their own use, the senatorial candidate also disclosed much earlier that 18 biomass power plants, which can produce a total of 241.27-MW of electricity for grid use, can power up more than 300,000 households.

You have to hand it to Migz—who served in the Senate for four years and nine years in Congress with a perfect attendance at that—because he is really passionate about his advocacy for renewable energy. Zubiri had floated the idea of sending out in the future “floating wind turbines” to the West Philippine Sea to harness the abundant wind resources in the area to produce energy. 

Although the Philippines and China continue to be locked in a territorial dispute in several areas encompassing the Spratlys, the idea is worth mulling over since advances in wind power generation technology allow the deployment of drifting wind farms that are well-suited to the West Philippine Sea to accommodate fishing and shipping lanes, Zubiri said. 

The former senator says the Philippines can learn from the experience of Denmark that pioneered the development of commercial wind power, building viable wind farms out at sea where wind resources are stronger and more consistent. Denmark now produces 43 percent of its electricity from mostly offshore wind farms, and the Danish government aims to increase this to 50 percent by 2020 and 84 percent by 2035, Zubiri said, adding that the next administration should push for stronger cooperation with Denmark in developing the Philippines’ vast wind reserves for power generation, and explore the feasibility of putting up offshore wind farms that could prove to be far more potent than those based onshore.

You certainly can’t argue with that.

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Topics: Happy Hour , biomass energy , Juan Miguel Zubiri
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