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Philippines beefs up biomass production

The Philippines is pushing ahead with its biomass production and now has a total of 18 biomass plants, according to an ex-government official.

According to local news website, InterAksyon.com, the Philippines has the ability to use enough biomass power plants to provide energy to more than 300,000 homes.

According to the news channel, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said: "Fired mainly by bagasse and rice husk, 16 of the biomass energy producers are already dispatching power to the grid, while a couple are under project commissioning and ready to supply the grid."

The 241MW installed capacity does not include another 166MW from biomass power generators installed by private firms for their own consumption of electricity, not for grid use, according to the former senator.

"What is great about biomass fuel from energy stored in agricultural waste is that it always available, adds value to farm crops, and is carbon neutral," said Zubiri.

He said biomass power producers are providing growers additional income from bagasse, the sugarcane fiber waste left after juice extraction, and rice husk, the shell separated from rice grains during the milling process.

Zubiri said: "Anything that reduces our dependence on foreign oil for electricity is always most welcome."

According to InterAksyon.com, two of the largest biomass power plants are fired by bagasse and were put up in the "sugar bowl" of Negros Occidental by packaged food and beverage producer Universal Robina Corp. (URC) and diversified sugar manufacturer Victorias Milling Co. (VMC).

URC's facility in Kabankalan City has an installed capacity of 46MW, while VMC's plant in Victorias City has 34MW, both for grid use.