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Philippines firm to expand bana grass production for ‘green coal’ conversion

Philippines green technology firm Mackay Green Energy will grow more bana grass in order to convert it into a biomass fuel, according to media reports.

Bana grass can be made into coal and biodegradable plastics.

Malaya Business Insight reported that Mackay Green Energy is already exporting bana grass to Japan and Korea from Zamboanga, where an initial 200 hectares has been planted on idle lands.

The firm owns lands in the Philippines. It has already planted bana grass in Negros with 3,000 hectares, Leyte with 1,000 hectares, Nueva Ecija with 130 hectares, according to the Philippines News Agency. The group will now expand its lands to a further 2,000 hectares this year.

The bana grass, once fermented, produces lactic acid and various other valuable enzymes. The lactic acid is being used in the production of biodegradable plastics, specialist car parts and high value chemicals.

Mackay Green Energy said it has secured the world’s best technologies to enable the conversion of the bana grass to green coal. It has superior qualities to fossil-based coal and can be co-fired in existing coal power plants without the need to make drastic changes.

“It is a key factor for power plants since the greenhouse gas emissions can be directly reduced,” James Mackay, chairman and CEO of Mackay Green Energy, told reporters.

 The company focuses on the development of various renewable energy systems designed to efficiently convert biomass to energy and fuels.

 According to Mackay, plans are being finalised for the installation of two 3MW green coal power plants, where the gas from the bana will provide fuel to run the power plant and at the same time produce 100 tonnes per day of green coal.

Biomass or green coal production will be increased to supply both the local and international markets.

Mackay said the first green coal production will start in the last quarter of 2016, according to Malaya Business Insight.

The Mackay variety bana grass crop, initially imported from Australia, is being supplied by MGE through its existing plantations, which are strategically located in the key areas of Butuan, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental, Negros, Nueva Ecija, Leyte, Rizal, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga.

It plans to construct an integrated production facility that will encompass green coal, power, green gas, fuels and chemical all derived from the Mackay variety bana grass.