Energy resources-A A +A
Monday, October 22, 2012
ENERGY sources naturally provided by our land are many. The ever presence of the sun’s energy commonly called solar energy ensure us of an inexhaustible source of this essential commodity.
Solar energy is the most promising and we have hardly tapped it. Any arguments on its merits had been lost in the planning tables of economists, because to lessen importation of oil or petroleum products will adversely affect their incomes. Most disturbed too, are government officials who stand to lose all the kickbacks they receive with every shipment of petroleum products.
Let’s give the energy problem the right assessment. What forms of energy does our country have and harnessed? Here is a list. For indigenous energy, the country has under conventional types, oil, coal, hydrothermal and geothermal. Notice that there is no mention of solar energy in literatures of ten years ago. Non-conventional energy forms include bagasse, agriwaste and others.
In 1992, the country had 7.54% of oil products and imported 49.41%. What is the picture now? Projected up to year 2000 is a total of about 1211 MW from existing and developing plants from the three major islands. Some of these are Nido, Cadlao, Matinloc, Galoc, Tara, Malampaya, Calauit, Sarap, Bangus, Panagatan 1, San Antonio 1A, Linapacan, Octon 2 and 3. Prominent places like Palawan, Mindoro, Cebu, and Cagayan Valley have either on shores or off shores explorations.
Products of petroleum, which we use, are natural gas, Avgas, Avturbo, premium gasoline, regular gasoline, diesel, fuse oil, kerosene, LPG, propylene, asphalts, refinery process gas, solvents, lubes and greases, waxes, among others.
Solar energy use was pioneered by Robert Lopez Puckett. His come-on, enjoy the efficiency and convenience of silent 24-hour solar power where conventional electricity is too expensive or unavailable. He has established domestic collar power generation in several communities in some islands. Another agency is the Philippine-German Special Energy Program (SEP) on Photovoltaic (PV) technology in Masbate, Batangas and Iloilo.
Solar energy is safe and convenient to use. It is non-polluting. The system may be expensive at the start but its long service will pay off the initial investments. More business concerns should venture on the installations of solar energy sources. A solar system requires minimum maintenance since there are not so many parts subject to wear and tear.
It is fuel-free, and noise free. Its best quality is the fact that it is inexhaustible. It is a never ending supply.
When there is no sun during the night hours, the solar energy can be stored for continued use as the case with solar batteries. The versatile use of solar energy will be definitely discovered as researches are undertaken along these lines. Many students enjoyed the rides in solar-powered golf carts around the campus when a solar power exhibit was held in a school. Some foreign countries have solar-powered cars already.
The richest potential for energy generation in the Philippines is the geothermal source. This is cheap, abundant, and relatively clean.
The Philippines ranks second in present geothermal capacities with the United States as number one. The World Bank considers geothermal power “the most promising indigenous form of energy” in the Philippines.
There are 21 actively working geothermal areas in the country giving some 2,610 MW of energy.
A geothermal source needs only 10 to 20 hectares for a full-blown 125 MW installations. It takes three to five years to construct with lesser capital needed compared to investments on dams. 1720 MW can be generated by geothermal plants throughout the country. Famous among them are Hopewell, Bacman 1 and 2, Calaca, Bulusan, Labo, Mamburao, Casacnan, Kalayaan, Palapinon, Mt. Apo, Agus, among others.
Hydrothermal sources of energy are also promising potential source of energy for us Filipinos. We have enough water bodies to be harnessed. Construction may be more expensive, needs longer time, larger tracts of land and water may be dried up but if properly planned and managed, these can serve the needs of many Filipinos.
Developing hydros can generate from 5 to 50 MW (megawatts). Both are ideal in isolated island towns. Big plants like Magat and Ambuklao need the construction of dams of considerable sizes and will take eight years just to put it up. They often dislocate villages or even towns.
Binga and Pantabangan are examples of these. The system makes use of running water coming from raised levels as in dams. This water moves turbines which in turn can run electric generators cheaply and efficiently.
This is the principle of hydroelectric power plants. Coal is mined in some parts of the Philippines. It is used as fuel. About 2320 MW is targeted by the power development program for domestic and industrial use. Developed areas with production records are Cagayan Valley, Philippine Cathay, Tantuco Homes, FF Cruz, Mana, Hercules, Kinsway, PNOC, Zambo, and Sabena among others. Coal is a source of pollution of the air.
Environmentalists are working for discontinuing its popular use in industry. Wind and tides are programmed for future developments. Wind currents of three major types blow over the country over the year.
Windmills are fast becoming fixtures of some country homes where they are able to generate energy for domestic use. With shorelines in many parts of the country, tides may also be harnessed as source of energy. This is still under planning stage. Non-conventional sources of energy are put to good use by innovative Filipinos.
They make use of organic matter generated by waste products as the bagasse and agriwaste, biogas and alcogas. We produce heat generated from charcoal, from wood and coconut shell. Dendrothermal energy is obtained from wood fuels taken from forests.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 23, 2012.