Vol. XXVI, 1st Quarter
Rising temperatures, erratic weather, the extreme cycles of El Nino and La Nina—all of these points to the inhospitable realities of global warming that’s increasingly engulfing the Philippines. Experts say that global warming is irreversible but there are available steps to mitigate or slow it down.
To cushion the effects of global warming in the country, the Department of Science and Technology has set in place several mechanisms designed to reduce its impact and promote greater understanding of the issue.
The enactment of the Biofuels Act of 2006 was one of DOST’s achievements last year as it actively helped draft the law’s policy and regulatory frameworks including the development of its roadmap.
The Biofuels Act of 2006 provides fiscal and other incentive mechanisms for the full implementation of biofuels use in the country. Biofuels are far more environment-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels at a cheaper price.
DOST’s advocacy support includes streamlining climate change policy in the Philippines, which will be promoted through forums, seminars, and symposia; production of information, education, and communication materials; and related activities.
Alternative clean fuel substitutes
DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development supported several initiatives that can decrease the amount of dangerous particles in the atmosphere.
PCIERD, as the principal agency of the Biofuels Act of 2006, is commissioned to further develop and implement research and development on the use of biofuels. The new law mandates 1% CME blend, which displaces about 40 million liters of imported diesel and saves the country about P 1.2 billion in import costs. According to PCIERD, CME blend could even go as high as 100%, which is still safe for vehicles.
On sugarcane-produced bioethanol, there are gasoline stations that now offer 10% blend (10% bioethanol, 90% diesel or gasoline). The first bioethanol fuel plant will be available in 2009, PCIERD reported.
PCIERD’s biofuel R&D program is currently geared to biofuel vehicle performance and test facility, biofuel processing technology, and alternative feedstock from biodiesel (jatropha, palm oil, used cooking oil), and bioethanol (sweet sorghum, cassava, and sweet potato).
Meanwhile, DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development is in full swing with its integrated R&D program on jatropha for biodiesel. Components of this project include germplasm management, varietal improvement, and seed technology; development of Geographic Information System (GIS)-aided suitability assessment for the commercial production of jatropha and component technologies; farming systems models; post-production machinery for jatropha; and process and equipment development for the production of esterified jatropha oil.
The use of compressed natural gas (CNG) to substitute gasoline and diesel is also actively promoted. An environmentally “clean” fuel alternative, CNG is made by compressing natural gas. Methane makes about 70 to 98% of CNG while the rest is composed of small amounts of water vapor and gases such as butane, ethane, and other trace gases. Methane’s simple molecular structure (CH4) has only one carbon that makes a nearly complete combustion, leaving very minute particles, if any, in the air.
PCIERD’s Engr. Albert Mariño says that there are now 20 buses plying Metro Manila running on CNG. Operators of these buses include HM Transport, CNG Vehicle Corp., and RRCG Bus Lines, which committed a total of 185 buses for the pilot CNG project in Oct 2007. A CNG refueling station is currently available at Shell Mamplasan Station along the South Super Highway in Laguna.
PCARRD meanwhile supervises a project on the utilization of sweet sorghum and cassava as feedstock for ethanol production.
DOST’s anchor program on farm managed clean production facility for small and medium scale swine industry for fuel and fertilizer production aims to generate baseline information and develop data base on swine waste management system. The program will look at designs of biogas systems and quality of methane produced.
PCIERD has also instituted energy saving technologies that make use of energy efficiently. Through its consortia and in cooperation with technology partners, PCIERD provides technical assistance and organizes seminars on energy audit, energy conservation and management, and energy efficient technologies.
“Energy audit activities are currently done in Cebu to serve Central Visayas, with SETUP projects as priority,” PCIERD’s Nonilo A. Peña explained.
PCIERD provided facilities for energy audit and undertakes capability-building programs to meet the requirements of the project. If proven successful, energy audit centers will be established in strategic parts of the country.
Still on efficient use of energy, PCIERD provided various forms of assistance to the following:
• publication of building design standards to assist and guide architects and engineers in designing buildings that use energy efficiently in layout, location, and materials
• energy efficiency tests to be included in labels of appliances as guide to consumers in choosing energy-efficient refrigerator, oven, washing machine, etc
PCIERD also promotes waste heat recovery that enables the re-use of heat.
New and renewable energy resources
Wind generated energy is an inexpensive and effective way of reducing carbon dioxide emission. DOST supported a wind resource assessment study identifying gusty locations in the country with over 76,000 megawatt wind energy potential. The study led to the establishment of commercial wind energy projects including the first commercial 25-megawatt wind farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.
Prior to said study, DOST established a 10-kilowatt wind turbine project in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The project energized a 23-household fishing village, proving that it can run as a stand-alone electricity generator.
Solar energy is also a potential source of renewable energy ideal to the country’s abundant sunshine of about 1,825 hours every year. To tap such inexhaustible energy, PCIERD supported the installation of 25 units of solar water pump and multi-purpose solar dryer.
Biomass energy systems
PCIERD promotes the use of the following biomass technologies that can drastically reduce harmful emissions caused by fossil fuels:
Monitoring the environment
Constant check of key factors related to climate change and environment is undertaken by DOST through the setting up of observation systems, inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), study of evidences of local climate change, and development of climate change scenarios.
Together with the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Service (DENR-ERDS), DOST aims to establish a state-of-the-art carbon dioxide monitoring station in three major sites in the country. Through these stations, DOST hopes to monitor long-term carbon dioxide and energy balance between the forest ecosystems and the atmosphere. It also intends to investigate the biological responses of vegetation and examine effects of typhoon and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
Other S&T initiatives
On R&D regarding global warming, DOST prioritizes support on mitigation measures particularly in forestry, waste management, marine resources, energy, agriculture, and industry. It is also bent on developing local expertise on monitoring assessment and mitigation measures, implementing awareness programs, and setting up networks.
DOST likewise supports local and international forums relating to global warming. As part of its global warming awareness efforts, it distributed the following publications:
To make productive use of agricultural wastes, PCARRD promotes the use of compost and organic fertilizer from agricultural wastes to increase production in agriculture.
To serve as basis for valuating the amount of carbon stored and absorbed by various forest types, DOST is doing valuation of carbon absorption of different vegetation in the country. Results of this project will also set the baseline for future participation of the Philippines in carbon stocks trading.
DOST is also implementing the project “Carbon stocks trading localization: Developing models for community-based carbon sequestration and carbon trading mechanism.” This project aims to lay down the foundation on how communities can participate in the carbon trading mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.
Currently being implemented is the three-year project “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Natural Resources, Agriculture and Rural in the Philippines” which aims to provide the basis in the formulation of strategies and mitigating measures to address impacts of climate change at the community level. Project partners include ICRAF, Environment [?] and ERDB, UPLB-ENFOR.
Through PCARRD, the following DOST-supported researches are being undertaken:
Current DOST funded R&D projects include studies on Pacific Seaboard: Upwelling Variability and Intrusion into Coastal Waters, Oil Spill and Red Tide, and Seaweeds.