A diagram showing how community rubbish could be converted into electricity. Designed by an agency based in Texas, USA.
By JUAN ESCANDOR JR.
NAGA CITY: Although it has never been tried anywhere in the country, Naga City is optimistic that a P3-billion project on a five-hectare government property can convert garbage into electric energy while solving its waste problem.
The facility in Barangay San Isidro could generate eight megawatts of electricity from 100 tons of trash fed into it daily and collected from the city’s 27 villages, according to Oscar P Orozco, head of the Naga City Environment and Natural Resources Office.
With Naga taking in more settlers and attracting more businesses, Orozco said the present Balatas open dump could no longer hold the volume of garbage in five years.
“The 20%-25% of trash segregated cannot reduce the pile of garbage mounting every day,” he said in a phone interview.
A South Korean company, CJ Global Green Energy, and a Japanese company, Hitachi Zosen, are expected to build the energy plant in two years after the ground-breaking ceremony held last Nov 2.
Among those who attended the program were Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
Mayor John Bongat said the pioneering effort could be replicated in other areas.
The city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) signed a joint venture agreement for the project on Aug 24, 2010.
After an environmental review showed the project to be viable, the process to be used in the facility was approved the following month. On Oct 20, 2011, the project was granted an environmental clearance certificate.
According to the DENR, the San Isidro site, which is more than 250m away from residential areas and other urban infrastructures, passed the international criteria set for such plants and sanitary landfill.
Orozco said the facility would use “gassification” or the process of converting solid wastes into gases without combustion.
A machine pulverizes the trash and stirs in it a very hot solvent, from which steam is generated, causing a turbine to produce electricity.
When the steam condenses, the liquid is collected and diverted to the first chamber to serve as solvent for the next batches of trash in order to start another cycle.
“For every 100 tons of garbage, some eight megawatts of electricity will be produced. CJ Global is aiming to produce 20 megawatts for each cycle,” Orozco said.
He gave assurance that no fumes or residue would be produced to harm the surroundings because no chemical is used to break up complex substances and convert them into hydrogen and oxygen.
The plant will be established in accordance with Republic Act No. 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Program, which encourages the establishment of such facilities and prohibits dumps.
Distribution to consumers
Once the facility is operational, CJ Global will offer electricity to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) or the Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative (Casureco II) for distribution to consumers.
“If negotiations with NGCP or Casureco II fail, the city will assume the task of distributing and selling electric power to consumers,” Orozco said.
The operation of the waste-to-energy plant will also bring cash to the city government if neighboring towns would opt to dump their garbage in a complementary landfill.
“The city will encourage nearby municipalities to dump their garbage into the adjoining sanitary landfill for a tipping fee of P200 per ton, a tad cheaper than keeping a dumpsite that costs P45 million per year,” Orozco said. - Inquirer