Pig manure means big bucks

by Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jul 28 2011 12:30 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2011 12:19 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines - Renewable energy investors should already tap the cash-rich European carbon-credit market before it closes its doors to developing countries by 2012, an industry expert said.

First Gen Corp. Vice President Al Santos explained the European market will only accept carbon credits from least developed countries after that. “The projects should already be registered now for sale of carbon credits before the end of 2012.”

The European Union created carbon trading in order to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases. Any company that exceeds the limits, or the so-called compliance buyer, has to buy credits from renewable energy technologies in order to cut its carbon emissions.

These companies earn these “credits” from projects registered under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC).

Of the 3,000 projects currently registered, 32 are from the Philippines.

Santos said even small companies tap this trading system because of its benefits.

“Per ton of certification emission reduction - we have anywhere from 10 to 12 euros. What it's supposed to do is for marginal projects, with the additional revenues from the sale of carbon credits it's supposed to improve the returns so that the project will go ahead,” he said.

Even the swine industry knows its benefits.

Santos said, “The projects registered under one application are mostly in the swine industry for the methane capture from the pig waste and use to power an engine. The credit of methane is 21 times carbon dioxide - so a ton of methane is equivalent to 21 tons of carbon dioxide emission.”

One carbon credit is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide.

Pig manure can be converted to biogas, which is used in power generation. For example, Cavite Pig City in General Trias produces less than 1 megawatt for its own use.

Santos said, however, that a company needs to cough up about a million in order to have its project registered with the UNFCC.

“It's not cheap. You need to hire a consultant to put together the documentation; you need to get a third-party validator to assess the application and look at the project; and then you submit it to the board - so that could already cost a million pesos. If you have a small project, it's hard to justify you're spending a million pesos to get a project registered,” he said.

On the other hand, the benefits would easily offset the cost needed for registration. Companies could also group themselves under one application.

“If the projects are small in scale - what they do is they bundle a number of projects under one application to save on costs. It's like cooperative-type,” he said.