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Bani town in western Pangasinan adopting green energy

By Leonardo V. Micua

BANI, Pangasinan, May 28 – Once a sleepy town overlooking a vast expanse of the South China Sea, the town of Bani may yet become the first town in the country that would maximize green energy in place of the conventional energy produced from fossil fuel or oil.

A Japanese company is now measuring wind velocity here preparatory to its plan to build windmills while at the same time, a Spanish company is now about ready to conduct a feasibility study for the putting up of a plant that will produce bio-mass energy out of farm wastes.

Both these environment-friendly projects could help this second class municipality in the First District of Pangasinan, with just about 48,000 population, attain its ambitious dream to be a green city by year 2020.

With Mayor Marcelo Navarro Jr., a retired police general at the helm since year 2007, Bani is a beehive of several development activities for the last three years and is now eyeing to develop not only green energy but also green agriculture and green architecture.

"This is our vision," confessed Navarro, a graduate of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1972, who has just been reelected as mayor of Bani for a second term.

Navarro said the Japanese firm, More Energy, already set up a tower on a hillside in Sitio Ulanen, Barangay Dacap Sur, Bani facing the South China Sea, from where it installed anemometer that measures wind velocity.

A computer box is inside the anemometer that transmits wind data to Japan every two seconds.

Tied up with Nippon Steel, one of Japan's industrial giants, More Energy has been sending technical men here for at least a year now in connection with their project to build windmills that are 20 years more modern than the existing windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

The proposed windmills of Bani could generate 30 megawatts of electricity that is just enough to supply the existing needs of Bani which is only 29 megawatts.

Representatives of More Energy, in close liaison with Bani officials, confirmed the information that Bani, particularly Sitio Ulanen, is the entry point of wind stream from the south China Sea before it crosses western Pangasinan.

The Japanese keep track of the wind stream using a guide map, just like sea current maps, aside from the wind data provided them by Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), Navarro said.

Navarro revealed that the project is now almost a done deal as the Japanese will be back to Bani sometime in June to discuss the livelihood component of the windmills project, which is an ice plant to be powered by wind energy.

The ice plant will be located right at Sitio Ulanen, a scenic fishing village in Bani town, from where offshore fishermen are landing their fish catch daily, which is envisioned by the municipality to ultimately become a fish port.

The water for the ice plant will come from a free-flowing spring in Sitio Ulanen that does not dry up even during summer.

Navarro explained that the ice plant is a grant to the municipality by More Energy but the windmills will be constructed under the Build-Operate-Transfer concept, which means that the project will accrue to the town after 15 to 20 years.

He said the Bangui windmills was a 1980 technology, whereas the proposed windmills in Bani, is a state-of-the art, adopting the 21st century technology.

On the other hand, the windmills in Bangui are 60 meters high and each with a blade of 40 meters while those that will be built in Sitio Ulanen are only 12 meters high and each with a blade of only five to six meters long.

Navarro said each windmill tower is capable of generating at least l.5 megawatts of power. To produce 30 megawatts, More Energy would build 20 or more windmills.

He boasted that this kind of windmills would only be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and only the second in Asia, after similar projects in Japan.

On the other hand, the Global Engineering of Spain, through its local partner, Phil-Bio, a company that caters to green energy, will soon conduct a feasibility study for the construction of two silos, each as high as a three-storey building, that could produce bio-mass energy.

Navarro said the Spanish company already released 190,000 Euros, approximately P11 million, that will finance the project's feasibility study just for the first phase.

Global Engineering, a quasi-private company in Spain, said the silos can also be used for drying 500 tons of rice per day, aside from heating the boiler to produce steam that will power the turbine connected to a generator.

At least 15 megawatts can be initially produced by this technology, which will be the only first of its kind in the Philippines. Global Engineering confirmed it already built proto-type projects in Mexico, one in South America, another in Africa and in India.

He said the company will buy all the hay stock, rice husks, woods chips and corn cobs within a 90-kilometer radius from the plant site, thus giving farmers additional incomes, instead of discarding all these through open burning.

Though the technology requires burning, it will not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that will contribute to global warming.

This one, said Navarro, is slow-burning, so it will not produce carbon dioxide unlike in open fire, thus it is still green technology because it is a renewable source of energy.

A third green technology to be explored by the town is the massive planting of sorghum after rice from whose seeds ethanol fuel can be extracted.

The bagasse of sorghum, he said, can be used as fuel for the silos and the fresh ones can be used as animal food. (PNA)

FFC/PTR/LVM/rma

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