SMC to convert clean-coal plants to biomass power facilities

By Lenie Lectura – October 3, 2018
from Business Mirror

SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) said on Wednesday its power unit will convert its clean-coal plants utilizing CFB (Circulating Fluidized Bed) technology to biomass power facilities.

Currently, SMC Global Power operates two new clean-coal power facilities in Limay, Bataan, and Malita, Davao. The capacity of each power plant is 600 megawatts and 300 MW, respectively.

These facilities utilize the CFB combustion technology.  It is among the world’s most advanced pollution-mitigating technologies for power plants, yielding significantly lower emissions.

The emissions of these power plants are way below the limits set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and even the standards set by the World Bank.

SMC President Ramon Ang said SMC Global Power is looking to replace coal with rice husks as fuel for its CFB power plants to help boost farmers’ income while it transitions to renewable and sustainable energy generation.

“Instead of burning or dumping rice husks, we want to fully utilize this agricultural waste product both as energy source for our power plants and income source for our rice farmers,” Ang said.

He added: “This way, we reduce our emission further, encourage more farmers to increase rice production, make their lives better, and help address a perennial food-security challenge.”

Ang also said emissions from rice-husk based fuel are expected to be even lower.

Moreover, this move will also boost rice farming in the country.

“If we encourage more farmers to plant rice by providing them additional sources of income, our rice sufficiency and food security improves. At the same time, we use palay husks to generate more environment-friendly energy,” he added.

The company is also willing to put up the necessary infrastructure and facilities needed to support rice farmers to collect husks that will be bought from them.

Earlier this month, Ang said SMC could go into rice importation to help address the current rice shortage. This will happen if a proposed scheme that imposes tariffs on imports but lifts quantity limits, is passed.

The conglomerate already operates grains terminals and silos nationwide. This could be used to stockpile rice to help ensure the country’s food supply and provide Filipinos with high-quality rice at low prices.

The tariffs to be imposed on importing rice could be used to support local farmers and boost the agriculture sector.

“Ultimately, what we want is for our farmers to get the support they need; for farming to be a viable option again for many Filipinos and, maybe someday, for our country to be able to produce what we need and more,” Ang said.

With rice being a staple food of Filipinos, Ang anticipates that “fuel” supply for power facilities using rice husks will be steady.

“This can even bring down electricity prices, as we will no longer be subject to price fluctuations and other cost and supply pressures associated with coal,” he added.

Earlier this year, Ang announced a major push towards ramping up its renewable-energy capacity.

Ang said the company is targeting up to 10,000 megawatts of new renewable-energy capacity in the next 10 years. In particular, the company is looking at tidal energy, wind power, and more hydropower plants.

The government is projecting that by 2040, the country needs up to 43,765 MW of new power capacity.

“We want to help address the country’s growing power needs, but wherever we can, we also commit to help provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing concerns,” Ang said.

He added, “Taking better care of the environment is one of them. That’s why whether its CFB or biomass, we haven’t stopped looking for better ways to more responsibly produce the power that is integral to our people’s lives and our economy’s future.”