Untapped biomass to solve power deficit in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 March) — Twenty five percent of potential biomass energy in Mindanao can supply the maximum power deficit in the island, Bernardo Tadeo, project team leader on biomass resource assessment, said.

Tadeo, also consultant of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco)  presented the project overview of “Biomass Resource Assessment for Selected Sites in Mindanao” at the Regional Media Workshop on Power Industry and Renewable Energy Development in Mindanao at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here on Friday.

He said previous studies in 2010 showed that 12 provinces in Mindanao have potential biomass energy with a total of 2,121 megawatts (MW). He explained that the project will validate the amount of potential energy and assess the sustainability of the biomass to energy industry in Mindanao.

He cited the sources of biomass energy such as agricultural residues from rice, sugar, coconut, corn, cassava, pineapple, oil palm and energy crops; manure generation from poultry and livestock; forestry and residues from wood wastes and saw mills; and, waste generation from urban and municipal solid wastes, and slaughter houses.

Romeo Montenegro, director of investment promotion and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority, said there will be a long dry season starting May this year which means reduced output of the Agus Pulangi Hydro Complex. He said the power deficit could persist at around 300 to 400 MW if no immediate measure would be taken.

But, if 25 percent or 530 MW from the total 2,121 MW of the potential biomass energy in Mindanao is tapped, the power shortage will be addressed, Tadeo said.

Ruby de Guzman, chief of biomass division of the Department of Energy Central Office, told participants that biomass energy is carbon neutral as the carbon emission of plants will be absorbed by the plants whose wastes are being used for biomass.

The biomass resource assessment project began last November 16 and will end on May 31. Tadeo said the final report will be completed in June.

Based on the initial project output,  at least 14 provinces in Mindanao that have high potential for biomass energy are Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Davao Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani. Zamboanga City was also cited.

Montenegro noted that if no parallel investment efforts are done for renewable energy, it will be crucial by 2018 as the energy mix will have only 43 percent of renewable energy sources.

“We need to entice more investments, at least to achieve the ideal mix of 50-50 between renewable and non-renewable energy sources,” he stressed.

He pointed out that the potential renewable energy sources in Mindanao are “huge but largely untapped”. He said it requires bigger initial capital expenditure and needs substantial investment to meet economic of scale or viability. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)