Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rice Husk as Source of Electricity?

Do you imagine the possibility of the mountains of rice husks stockpiled at the back of rice mills in the province to be harnessed into electric power? 

This question was posed by Bohol V-Gov. Julius Ceasar Herrera after he was informed  that there's a  plan of the national government to construct energy plants with rice husks as power source.  

He said that with Bohol  very much dependent on the Leyte-Bohol Interconnection Project, power supply is subservient to  climatic conditions making the power situation vulnerable to erratic power supply. 

In the past weeks, Bohol suffered a series of blackouts, paralyzing major industries and commerce because of unannounced power outages. In most cases, the blackouts were blamed by automatic trip-offs of the interconnection.  

This prompted the vice-governor to propose a resolution urging the Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy (DOE) to pursue the plan of the national government in setting up power plants powered by rice husks across the country to augment the unstable power supply of the province.  

The measure may be tackled on Tuesday during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan where he is the presiding officer.  

Under his proposed resolution, Herrera said that  province is one of the eight provinces where these plants are to be constructed.  

Based on the study, rice husk power plants can generate between 1.5 and 10 megawatts. The technology is a viable energy source as used in Japan .  

In the  proposed resolution  rice husks can be produced as much as 20% of the paddy production. "In 2004, about 3.14 million metric tons of rice husks were generated of the total 14 million MT of rice produce and this translates to 1,600 giga-watt hour of potential energy that can light a highly urbanized city for a year."  

As an environmentalist, the vice-governor said the power project could help the growing concern over husk disposal that can harm the environment when they are  decomposed. When rotten, the husks emit greenhouse gases  contributing air pollution to the environment. He cited a finding that if rice husks are burned they discharge unfiltered smoke and toxic carbon dioxide that can help deplete the ozone layer.  

He added that it's about time to tap "our resources while there is still time to save our environment". (With reports from Ric Obedencio) 

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