Biomass Industry in the Philippines

Sources of Biomass in the Philippines

The Philippines has large and abundant supplies of biomass resources, including agricultural crop residues, forest residues, animal waste, agro-industrial waste, municipal solid waste and aquatic biomass.  The most common agricultural waste are rice hull, bagasse, coconut shell husk and coconut coir.  This use of commercially produced agricultural residues converted into biofuels is increasing in the Philippines, as fossil fuel prices continue to rise.  Rice husks are perhaps the most important underdeveloped biomass resource that can be fully utilized in a renewable and sustainable manner for generation of electrical power.

It has been estimated that the volume of residues in the Philippines, from rice, coconut, palm oil, sugar and wood industries is 16 million tons per year.

Currently, biomass technologies used in the Philippines include the use of bagasse as boiler fuel for cogeneration; rice and coconut husks dryers for crop drying; biomass gasifiers for mechanical and electrical applications; fuelwood and agricultural wastes for oven kilns; and furnaces and cooking stoves for cooking and heating purposes.  Biomass technology represents the largest installations in the Philippines in comparison with the other renewable energy or energy-efficient and greenhouse gas abating technologies.

Biomass energy has, and continues to play a vital role in the Philippines’ energy supply.  Nearly 30 percent of the energy for the 100 million plus people living in the Philippines comes from biomass, and is mainly used for household cooking by the rural population.  Biomass energy sources, account for approximately 15 percent of the primary energy use in the Philippines.  These resources that are available in the Philippines can generate biomass power projects with a potential capacity of more than 200 MW. It is estimated that about 70 percent of this biomass use can be traced to the cooking needs of the residential sector, as compared to the industrial and commercial applications that account for the remainder.

It has been estimated that the volume of residues in the Philippines, from rice, coconut, palm oil, sugar and wood industries is 16 million tons per year.  Bagasse, coconut husks and shell can account for at least 12 percent of total national energy supply.  The World Bank-Energy Sector Management Assistance Program estimated that residues from sugar, rice and coconut could produce 90 MW, 40 MW, and 20 MW, respectively.

The development of agricultural residual recovery systems, the improvement of agro-forestry systems, the introduction of the latest energy conversion technologies, and development of biomass supply chains, will play a major role in biomass energy development in the Philippines.  The country is also amongst the nations most vulnerable to climatic change, and has experienced some of the largest crop losses due to climate change.  The country has demonstrated a strong self-interest in the advancement of clean energy technologies, and has the potential to become a role model for other developing nations on account of its broad portfolio of biomass energy resources.

An excerpt from an article by ASEAN Briefing

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