SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) said on Wednesday that it was planning to replace coal with rice husks to fuel its circulating fluidized bed (CFB) power plants to boost the income of farmers while the conglomerate moves towards renewable and sustainable energy generation.
“Instead of burning or dumping rice husks, we want to fully utilize this agricultural waste product both as energy source for our power plants and income source for our rice farmers,” said Ramon S. Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer, in a statement.
“This way, we reduce our emission further, encourage more farmers to increase rice production, make their lives better and help address a perennial food security challenge,” he added.
SMC will convert its existing power plants using CFB “clean coal” technology into biomass power facilities. Its power unit SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. operates two new facilities in Limay, Bataan and Malita, Davao.
The plants use CFB combustion technology, which SMC said is among the world’s most advanced pollution-mitigating technologies for power plants, yielding lower emissions. But the listed company said emissions from rice husk-based fuel are expected be even lower.
Mr. Ang said SMC’s transition into biomass technology could also boost rice farming in the country.
“If we encourage more farmers to plant rice by providing them additional sources of income, our rice sufficiency and food security improves. At the same time, we use palay husks to generate more environment-friendly energy,” he said.
He said the company is willing to build the necessary infrastructure and facilities to support rice farmers to collect husks that will be bought from them.
Earlier this month, Mr. Ang said SMC could go into rice importation to help address the current rice shortage, but only if scheme that imposes import tariffs but lifts quantity limits is passed.
SMC operates grains terminals and silos nationwide, which can be used to stockpile rice to help ensure food supply and high-quality rice at low prices. The tariffs to be imposed on importing rice could be used to support local farmers and boost the farm sector.
Mr. Ang earlier this year said SMC is boosting its renewable energy capacity with a target capacity of 10,000 MW in the next 10 years. He said the company was looking at tidal energy, wind power, and more hydroelectric power plants. — Victor V. Saulon