Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why Isn't the Philippines Investing in WTE Energy?

I don't understand why we're not inching our way to sustainable energy plants here in the country. As a large, trash-producing sector of the world, the Philippines has one of the best potential for producing 49 megawatts for every 950 tonnes of of garbage.

Given Metro Manila's production of 8,600 tonnes of trash per day, one could easily see the amount of energy just this metropolis can produce. If you're too lazy to do the math, that'd be roughly 443 megawatts per day. To put it in perspective: the overall demand of ten large malls with centralized air conditioning is 200MW / day.

So far, however, we've only one waste-to-energy power plant in the country: the pilot project of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation in Davao del Norte. The said power plant can only produce at most 6MW of energy, although its representatives say that it could easily scale that up to 300MW.

And the kicker: it's still under construction.

One could say that the problem of its CO2 emissions is one reason the government's been reluctant to invest in these types of power plants. But there's been research in artificially replicating the natural process of photosynthesis in laboratory environments; this is something the Aquino administration could really get on board with, since it's a great opportunity to create more science and technology jobs in the country.

In fact, by creating a whole system of efficient garbage collection, energy production, and environmental research, the government could ideally create enough jobs to make a dent in the whole unemployment problem.

That's just one of the benefits of this solution. There's also the environmental impact of WTE power plants, once you address the carbon dioxide byproduct; people would actually be more interested in properly disposing their trash since this goes into the energy they use every day. It could be the drive this country needs to be disciplined enough to start being mindful of their waste.

Kudos should be given to the Pangilinan-headed MPIC for getting the ball rolling. What about the other big corporations in the country? I know both JG Summit Holdings, Inc., and the First Philippine Holdings, Corp., are heavy players in the industry. There's a great opportunity here for virtually any corporation willing to make the investment.

And the government stands to benefit from this, as well. This won't necessarily remove the country's reliance on fossil fuels - an important aspect to consider since that sector of the industry is a heavy contributor to the government's coffers. But by developing a hitherto virgin, at least in the Philippines, territory in environmental science, waste disposal management, and energy production will give them a boost in ratings that can be felt not just by the current generation, but by generations to come.