Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Philippines: Algae eyed as next biofuel source in RP by '08


Roxas City – After sugarcane, coconut, jatropha, cassava and sweet
sorghum, here comes algae.

The PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. may introduce the use of biodiesel from
algae next year, saying it is about to enter talks with a US-based firm
engaged in algae technology on how to derive and market biodiesel from

PNOC-AFC president and CEO Peter Anthony A. Abaya on Wednesday said the
company would be talking middle of next month with the firm. He declined
to name the US firm.

The US ecotechnology company, he said, is rapidly becoming an industry
leader in the renewable energy market and is pioneering the
algae-to-biofuel technology.

"We are not only looking at jatropha as a potential source of biodiesel
but we are also working at the science of deriving biodiesel from
algae," Abaya said.

Abaya said the development and eventual commercialization of biofuels
from algae is part of PNOC-AFC's medium-term plan.

According to Abaya, the US-based firm it will be discussing with has a
technology that mass produces algae from which the primary vegetable oil
product is extracted. The oil is then refined into a cost-effective,
non-polluting diesel biofuel.

The algae-derived fuel, Abaya said, will be an energy efficient
replacement for fossil fuels and can be used in any diesel powered
vehicle or machinery. The secondary algae byproduct can be utilized in
animal feed or agricultural fertilizer.

"The simplicity and speed of the algae's reproduction are key to its
success as a biofuel source. Using the natural process of
photosynthesis, maximum exposure to sunlight and the effective
absorption of carbon dioxide lead to the algae reproducing rapidly.
Traditional ponds have limitations. Once algae covers the surface,
sunlight ceases to penetrate towards the lower levels of the pond,
hampering growth," he said.

Abaya said algae is cost-effective, renewable, and space efficient. It
also makes a significant contribution to the environment as it absorbs
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the primary component of the
greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

In addition to improving the health of the planet, the removal of carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere can generate marketable Carbon Emission
Reduction (CER) credits in Kyoto Protocol signatory countries which the
Philippines is a signatory, turning emission reductions into financial

"We are seeing technologies that are pushing the possibility frontier of
biofuel production further out with higher volumes and lower costs. The
next few years looks very exciting for the industry. We see more
opportunities for employment, more opportunities to improve the
well-being of our people while nurturing our natural resources and the
ecosystems we live in," Abaya said.

The government has pushed the development of alternative energy sources
starting with sugarcane, coconut, jatropha, cassava, sweet sorghum,
biomass, wind, water and solar power in its effort to reduce the
country's dependence on imported fossil fuel which has cost the country
substantial amounts of dollars over decades.

President Arroyo signed into law in January this year the Biofuels Act
of 2006 to steep up the government program on the development and
utilization of indigenous fuel sources that are renewable and abound in
the country.

In Capiz, about 400 homes in the remote mountain barangays of Tapaz and
Jamindan towns that cannot be reached by the existing power grid derive
energy from the sun using solar panels to light up their homes and
operate basic appliances.

The local solar power project is a joint endeavor of the Department of
Energy, KEPCO, Office of Congressman Fredenil Castro, municipal
governments of Tapaz and Jamindan, and Capiz Electric Cooperative with
the support of the provincial government.

Solar power has also been adopted in similar situated communities in the
country. (PIA)

No comments: