Thursday, May 8, 2014

Biomass power generation seen as sustainable energy source

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, May 8 (PIA) – In time with the Forum on Biomass Power Generation and Short Rotation Tree Plantations held on Wednesday in one of the local convention centers here, stakeholders from different sectors seen biomass as sustainable energy source in Caraga region.

Said activity was conducted by the Caraga Renewable Energy Corporation (CARE) and P.U.N.L.A. in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (NERBAC) Caraga.

Fernando L. Martinez, chairman and CEO of Eastern Petroleum Group bared that biomass is one of the safest energy producing technologies. "You will not see any form of pollution with the use of biomass. It's a better alternative source of energy and is viable, cleaner and more manageable," he said.

Martinez also revealed that the pilot area for this project is the municipality of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. According to him, their first choice was supposedly the municipality of Nasipit of same province, however, they saw some lacking important requirements to pursue the project, and to which they also realized that Buenavista is next most suitable for the project.

"With this project on Biomass Power Generation and Short Rotation Tree Plantations, we hope to multiply businesses to create opportunities for people and reduce the cost of energy. That is part of the core mission that we are looking into," disclosed Martinez.

When asked whether this biomass energy will cause conflict with the existing energy providers here, Martinez clarified that it definitely will not hinder the operations of the existing power producers. “We are here to complement. We are lack some 200 megawatts, so this will really help," he explained.

Also, Engr. Adel Garcia Jr., chairman and president of AVGarcia Power Systems Corporation discussed how this project will be implemented.

"The construction of this Biomass Power Generation and Short Rotation Tree Plantations Project here in Agusan del Norte is expected to be completed by at least within 27 months from now. It will cost some P4-billion and we are now considering factors to get it started," he said.

DTI-Caraga regional director Brielgo Pagaran expressed his optimism that the region will soon have a more productive, efficient and uncostly energy source. “The more variety of energy sources that we have, the better for us. This biomass power generation will surely provide sustainable energy source for all of us,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dave Butler, representing Wellons Energy Solutions of Portland, Oregon in United States of America, manifested that biomass is a very clean technology. “Your region is blessed with many trees compared to other countries of the world and biomass power generation is just but suitable in your area,” he remarked.

BioPower is the use of biomass to produce electric power or heat. Biopower system technologies include direct-firing, cofiring, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)


Eastern Petroleum to invest P4.190-B biomass plant in Agusan Norte

By Venus L. Garcia
        
BUTUAN CITY, May 8 (PIA) –  Eastern Petroleum Corporation, a Philippine-based company that provides world-class and environment-friendly energy through its subsidiary Caraga Renewable Energy Power Corporation (CARE Corp.), will soon build a 23.5MW module of a planned 47MW wood-based Biomass Generated Power Plant amounting a total investment at P4.190 billion in a 20-hectare area in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

As revealed during the Biomass Power Generation and Short Rotation Tree Plantations Forum on Wednesday, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project stands at around P2.931 billion which includes the electro-mechanical, civil and site works, 69kV TX line and capacity injection SS. Other project cost is at around P1.258 billion which covers capitalized interests and financial fees, professional fees, construction all risk insurance, equipment taxes/duties, start-up costs, land, proponents costs and contingency equity.

Caraga region, being known to be the wood and timber corridor of the Philippines, has been transformed into commercial tree farms and providing sustainable source of wood and timber materials though a successful tree farming program started in the area about twenty years ago. As such, the abundance of these kind of resources suggests a viable source of renewable energy.

“The tree farms are currently owned by a combination of local landowners and indigenous peoples who took participation in forest management programs of the government, in efforts to institutionalize the replenishment of forest covers of the region,” said Fernando Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Eastern Petroleum Group.

Martinez explained that about 10,000 hectares shall be initially converted into an Integrated Tree Plantation (ITP) as long-term fuel resource base. He added that the 23.5MW plant will require about 200,000 to 250,000 green tons per year of biomass feedstock. The captive fuel resource base covered by the initial ITP program is at least 10,000 hectares capable to sustain at least 2 x 23.5MW power generation units.

In addition, available wood waste product around Caraga such as saw dust and trimmings have substantial availability across the area.

According to Martinez, the officially termed BioPower is one of the safest energy producing technologies and is cleaner and more manageable.

The project shall use a well-established and matured technologies for a broiler and steam turbine and associated auxiliaries from the United States (US). It specifically intends to use the Wellons Boiler Technology from Vancouver, Washington.

Dave Butler, representing Wellons Energy Solutions in Portland, Oregon, USA expressed his support to the said project which shall utilize wood chips as primary fuel, to be sourced from the vast forest residues and commercial tree farms of the provinces composing Caraga region.

Recent developments showed that as of April 2014, the company has finished the site assessment and technical feasibility studies for the project. It has also finished the site survey; topographic map, water resource and fuel resource study; and bankable feasibility study which is ready for presentation to financial institutions. Caraga Power has also acquired through its sister company the 15-hectare project site which is part of the 100-hectare industrial and commercial estate in the town of Buenavista along the national road.

Martinez assured that the project shall be compliant to the renewable energy laws on registration, qualification, permitting and regulatory requirements and to the Philippine Grid Code as well. He also said that the approved tariff rate for electricity from biomass fired power generation facility is P6.63 per kWh.

“By proliferating BioPower projects, we hope to multiply commercial and industrial hubs to create more opportunities for people but with reduced cost of energy. That is part of the core mission that we are looking into,” remarked Martinez.

It was mentioned that the projected commercial operation period of the plant is 25 years. Start of EPC is by 2014 and commercial operation by 2017. The estimated manpower for the plant is at 81 employees. (VLG/PIA-Caraga)


LGU reps undergo Biodiversity Monitoring System Enhancement Training

By Jimster B. Samson

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, May 8 (PIA) - Representatives from the eight-member municipalities of the Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA) have completed the five-day training on Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) Enhancement held recently at Kasili Lakeside Resort, Mainit, this province.

According to LMDA Biodiversity Partnership Project Team Leader Omar Barillo, the five-day training was aimed to help local government units assess biodiversity and formulate plans and policy-making support to conservation.

"BMS as a resource monitoring tool is very important for the LGUs for it helps them assess their local biodiversity with primary consideration in planning and policy-making support to conservation," Barillo emphasized.

LMDA is an alliance of municipalities composed of Tubay, Santiago, Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte and Alegria, Mainit, Sison and Tubod in Surigao del Norte, government line agencies (DA, NEDA, DENR, BFAR, PIA, DOT) and civil society organizations in Lake Mainit area. Its significant role is to serve as the coordinating body of multi-stakeholders in preserving and promoting Lake Mainit ecosystem. (SDR/LGU-Tubod/PIA-Surigao del Norte)


5 govt agencies, 2 private orgs in SurSur ink MOA for police investigation and case build-up enhancement skills

By Greg Tataro Jr.

TANDAG CITY, May 8 (PIA) – Five government agencies and two private organizations have signed on Wednesday a “Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for Police Enhancement Training Course for Chiefs of Police (COPs)/Investigators of Surigao del Sur” with the aim to equip law enforcers with the necessary know-how to pin down criminals before the law of justice.

The event which bore the theme, “Crime is everybody’s concern and public safety is a shared responsibility” highlighted the 1st Quarterly Meeting of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Surigao del Sur Chapter that was presided over by Carrascal town Mayor Vicente Pimentel, Jr., its incumbent president.

Mayor Pimentel, who was so receptive to the idea, said in his welcome address that something has to be done in order to help the police close the gap in solving the increasing crime rates in the province, especially on illegal drugs.

The signatories to the MOA on the part of government agencies are Governor Johnny Pimentel for the Province of Surigao del Sur; Carrascal town Mayor Vicente Pimentel, Jr. for the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)- Surigao del Sur Chapter; Atty. Florito Cuartero for the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor; Provincial Director Pedrito Alacaba for the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); as well as Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Provincial Director P/SSupt. Narciso Verdadero for the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Also, on the side of the private sector, the signatories are Leodorico Avila, Jr. for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and Rev. Msgr. Arturo Langit for Saint Theresa Center for Ecology, Networking and Transformative Education and Research (ST Center).

During the detailed presentation of Atty. Gerardo Maglinte, the appointed Project Coordinator, he stressed that the IBP was prompted to do so in coming up with the initiative primarily due to the ”rising trend of crimes and increasing threat of drug-related cases and the inherent difficulty in the arrest and successful criminal prosecution of suspects.”

He likewise said that the launching and training of recruits is soon to follow next month. (NGBT/Radyo ng Bayan/PIA-Surigao del Sur)


Feature: Rough road to resilience and self reliance

By Gervacio C. Dauz, Jr.
        
BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte, May 8 (PIA) - His parents were used to wallowing in precarious living and toiling, as if the daily grind has always been a Sisyphean climb.  Having seen how poverty wreaks havoc to the welfare and well-being of his family, Rodolfo G. Ebio, Jr. therefore resolved to firm up his personal life through capacitating himself.  And he found out that dreaming, coupled with patience and determination, is surely taking him to a better level, one step at a time.

Jong-Jong, as he is fondly called by friends and kin, is the third and youngest siblings in the family.  His father, Rodolfo, Sr., is a plain carpenter cum mason, but manages also to do other menial tasks ala jack of all trades if only to make both ends meet for the family.  His mother, Miladel, supports the family upkeep by doing household chores on a full time basis. While he breezed through in his secondary level studies, finishing at a very young age of 15 at the Buenavista Institute here, he was prevailed upon to postpone his dream of pursuing tertiary or post-secondary studies due to the unstable income of his father.  At least his two elder siblings were supported and allowed by his parents to continue with their studies, though they have to tighten their belts also.

Even if nothing productive seemed to happen in his four years of gestation period as an out of school youth, yet he found a way to get busy, and that was through doing extra work at an electronics shop located at a frenetic thoroughfare in Libertad, Butuan City.  Upon noticing that he got a potential to become a meticulous electronics technician, Michael Vagallon, an uncle of his that owned and managed the shop, took a liking of him.  Presto, he zinged his way as an apprentice with his uncle sharing with him important tips and methods on how to handle and troubleshoot broken or impaired household appliances, including other electronic gadgets, until the same would be repaired or restored to normalcy.  But for complicated cases, he would seek proper mentoring and tutelage from his uncle.  In between, he gradually learned also how to entertain customers’ complaints and handle demanding or abrasive clients. He enjoyed the exposure and experience while it lasted – until his uncle decided to fold shop and seek greener pastures abroad.  It seemed he’s back to square one once again.

But it wasn’t too long when his parents decided to support his new-found dream of becoming an electronics technician someday.  Thus, at 19 years of age, he strutted as a freshman at the corridors of the Philippine Electronics and Communications Institute of Technology (PECIT) in Butuan City and enrolled right away under the two-year Consumer Electronics Servicing NC II qualification beginning on June 2009.  Brimming with pride, he resolved to finish his dream in due time, though unbeknownst to him, the support from his parents might not be enough for the long haul.

Fortunately, two months after, the school opened its doors to accept able and willing applicants to become student assistants under the Alicia’s Foundation, so named in memory of the late matriarch of the school. With a strong endorsement from his instructor, he grabbed the opportunity, if only to ensure that he will make it through thick or thin. 

He was made to understand that his perks as a student assistant would include free tuition privilege, which was already a big help.  But at the reverse side, it would mean six hours a day, from Monday to Saturday, of vigilant and meticulous laboring as a maintenance guy of school laboratories and surroundings, plus being the first man in and the last man out during school activities, to include also other menial tasks as may be assigned by his superiors.

“The exposure and experience made me a better fellow,” he quipped, “because I have learned how to be time-conscious, patient, vigilant, flexible, and spend-thrift at the personal level.  At the social level, I appreciated my oozing self-confidence because I already got a knack in dealing with my superiors and instructors, as well as adjusting with my peers.”

A month after his graduation, employment was handed to him in silver platter by Zenergy, a company that offers cable and internet services and which is also a sister company of his alma mater located in the same compound.  Because of his performance and dedication as a Head End Technician, Marita Z. Corrales, his company manager, took notice of him, turning him into a regular employee a year after or effective May 2012.  This means that he would enjoy a basic pay plus incentives, and will be included in the coverage of Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, and Social Security System.

On free days back in Purok 5, Barangay Manapa here where he resides with his family, he is actually a sought-after electronics technician in the community and he is making an average of a thousand bucks per month for doing what he enjoys best.

“As a Head End Technician,” I inquired, “what exactly do you do?”  In reply, “I actually maintain and sometimes troubleshoot the company’s cable nerve center.”  But he surprised me when he shared, “I also dabbled as a welder for the company on lean moments, because we need to install grills and other metal buffer as security measures for our sensitive and very expensive equipment.”

“Say, where did you learn welding?”  I followed up.  “I learned it,” he enthused, “the hard way, though, while volunteering for the company, if only to lessen the expenses.”  To which I countered: “So, you are making yourself relevant even if it’s hard. No wonder that your superiors like you.”  For said comment, he just smiled and nodded.

Still young and ambitious, he desires to proceed with information technology programming, because for him electronics operations in advance countries means being proficient also with programming.

“What about love life?” I egged him, because he’s now 24 years old.  “Not now, sir” he intoned.  “I still have amortizations to pay and I likewise give my share in our household expenses. I would like to save more also, so that settling down later would not be a burden.”

As a parting shot, he acknowledged that “I got employed easily because of my technical skills.”  And he’s endorsing it as “a good, viable alternative for others who lacked the resources, but who got the determination and humility to pursue it as a decent vocation.”  For those who are still in limbo or are indecisive, he argued rather: “Take it from me.”  Indeed, he knows whereof he spoke, because he tried dreaming with both feet on the ground. (TESDA-Agusan del Norte/PIA-Agusan del Norte)