SUGAR mills in Negros Occidental should, by now, start venturing into cogeneration to survive amid the possible fluctuations in the prices of sugar, said former governor Rafael Coscolluela, provincial consultant for investment promotions, trade, and export development.
Coscolluela, who spoke at the inauguration of the 25-megawatt solar farm in Barangay Rizal, Silay City yesterday, said that through cogeneration, sugar mills may improve the efficiency of the boilers, using the same quantity of bagasse being used before, to generate excess power which they can sell to the grid.
Cogeneration is the use of heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time.
Coscolluela said this is a way of diversifying revenues thus, it is very advantageous for sugar mills.
“It will take two to three years to complete the operation of cogeneration, which is healthy for sugar mills because it will allow them to survive in the future, especially when sugar prices drop,” he added.
Coscolluela said there are already five sugar mills in the province into biomass-based cogeneration.
These are First Farmers Holding Corp. in Talisay City, Southern Negros Development Corp. in Kabankalan City, Central Azucarera de La Carlota in La Carlota City, Victorias Milling Company in Victorias City, and Lopez Sugar Corp. in Sagay City.
Of these sugar mills, the First Farmers, which started cogenerating five years ago, dispatches the biggest amount of power to the grid.
“We already have five mills which have shown that cogeneration can be done thus, others may now start by borrowing or paying the former’s expertise,” Coscolluela said.
Those who have ventured into cogeneration have upgraded not only to become more efficient in producing sugar, but also in becoming capable of producing biomass as source of energy, he added.
The former governor, however, pointed out that like any other industry, cogeneration also faces challenges.
He said there are still problems with sending out the power, payment for power generators, and other technical and procedural constraints.
However, within this year everything will run smoothly, as by this time, people already have the idea that we have the power needed by the industry thus, it will attract more investors, Coscolluela added.
“Green economy is the way to the future thus, it should be adopted by all local government units,” he said, adding that the province is now clearly ahead in terms of renewable energy generation.