Biogas plants to benefit 2 communities in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 April) – At least two agro-industrial and residential communities here will soon enjoy free and stable electricity through a P46-million farm-based alternative power generation facilities being developed by a Bangkok-based renewable energy firm.

Don Mario Dia, country manager and chief executive officer of Asia Biogas Co. Ltd.-Philippine Bio-Sciences Company, Inc. (PhilBIO), said they are targeting to fully operationalize within the year its two waste-to-energy biogas plants that are located within the swine farm compounds of Bibiana Farms and Mills Inc. here.

The farm facilities, dubbed Bibiana I and II, are located in Barangays Katangawan and Apopong, respectively, which host various agro-industrial ventures and residential subdivisions.

Dia said the biogas power generation projects, which are being developed through the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, are mainly aimed at providing low-cost electricity to Bibiana’s farm and milling facilities and at the same time offer an alternative source of power to neighboring local communities.
The biogas projects were so far the first of their kind to be developed in this city and considered among PhilBIO’s best showcases in Mindanao, he said.
No less than President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was impressed with the projects’ development during an inspection of the main facility at Bibiana I farm in Barangay Katangawan here last week.
“We’re not only providing a stable and cost-efficient alternative power source to the farm and local communities but were promoting the use of renewable energy systems, which we really need to give more focus this time given the present state of our environment,” Dia told MindaNews.
The Bibiana I and II waste-to-energy projects started in August 2008 after Bibiana Farms and Mills Inc., signed an agreement with PhilBIO’s subsidiary Hacienda Bio-Energy Corporation (HBC) for the development of renewable energy facilities though a BOT arrangement, a project briefer said.
It said HBC commissioned PhilBIO to “design, construct and operate” the biogas projects throughout the BOT period.
PhilBIO noted that the projects, which were approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in December 2009, involved the installation of three units of 125-kilowatt Caterpillar engines that generate a total of 2,874 megawatts of power annually.
Two Caterpillar engines were installed at Bibiana I facility in Barangay Katangawan while single engine was put up at Bibiana II farm compound in Barangay Apopong.
PhilBIO already invested some P27 million for the development of the Bibiana I facility and another P19 million for Bibiana II.
Cyril Ang, Bibiana Farms and Mills Inc. president, said they came up with the idea of putting up a biogas project at the 45-year-old main farm facility in Barangay Katangawan to help solve their worsening waste disposal problem.
He said the operations of the swine production farms in Katangawan and in Apopong had been hampered by their difficulty to properly comply with pollution regulations due to the huge volume of wastes that the farms accumulate.
Both farms, which require stable power supplies, were also affected by the spate of brownouts in the area as a result of the worsening power supply deficit in Mindanao.
“We agreed to link up with PhilBIO to resolve our waste problem, the need for low-cost electricity in our farms and come up with reliable alternative power sources during brownouts,” Ang said.
Dia said that since the biogas facilities were initially completed in January last year, Bibiana’s farm facilities did not suffer any brownout.
“The project’s development has been continuing and we’re introducing some innovations that we deem necessary to further improve their operations,” he said.
He said they have pitched the twin biogas power generation facilities to the local power grid to help provide electricity to their neighboring communities.
Dia said they already registered the facilities with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as provider of “free electricity.”
He said they are currently working for the registration by the DENR of the two biogas facilities as Clean Development Mechanism or CDM projects.
CDM is a scheme provided for under the Kyoto Protocol that allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn carbon credits.
Dia added that the biogas facilities stand to cut carbon dioxide emission equivalent (CO2-e) by an estimated 28,960 tons annually. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)