Written by the Web Team
Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) recently signed an agreement with ENERTIME, a France-based company, to assess the feasibility of using rice straw for power generation, which could help farmers reduce production cost.
“The cost of petroleum is increasing. So it’s important to develop a new energy system that will serve as an alternative to the non-renewable, highly centralized, and not diversified system. The exact opposite of that is what we’d like to do. That means utilizing local sources of energy,” Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., PhilRice executive director, said.
The Philippines was cited as producing 15.2 million tons of rice that leave behind 11.3 million tons of rice straw a year. After harvest, farmers usually burn rice straw in the open field, causing air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide.
To minimize the postharvest waste, the two-year collaboration will explore the possibility of collecting, transporting, and conditioning rice straw to be used as feedstock or raw material in generating electricity.
The initiative, a part of the project Use of Rice Straw as Fuel to Generate Electricity Using Organic Rankine Cycle Technology in the Philippines, will cover Nueva Ecija and Laguna. About 10,000 tons of rice straw per year is targeted to be acquired from these major rice-producing provinces.
Under the agreement, ENERTIME, a specialist on energy production using renewable resources, will finance the feasibility study once funds are granted by the French Economic Ministry’s Fund for Studies and Private Sector Support Program.
ENERTIME will also assess the biomass supply, estimate power plant cost, and help find project investors.
PhilRice, on the other hand, will provide rice production data and technical support in collecting and transporting rice straw, contracting rice straw supply organizing site visits, and validating sites feasible for biomass energy production.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) are also part of this project. IRRI will lead the study on biomass supply organization and greenhouse gas mitigation analysis while UPLB will collect power plant site data and layout for the project.
A 2010 study titled, Energy and Food System, concluded that “as the inputs needed to support yields increase, agriculture is becoming more dependent on fossil fuels…. Renewable energy will play important role in increasing the energy efficiency of agriculture and reducing its reliance on fossil resources.”