US firm eyes plasma gas-powered plant in Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY  – A company based in Texas,
United States has proposed a synthetic gas fueled power plant in
Bukidnon that will convert about 500 to 1,000 tons of daily solid
waste to generate power, majority floor leader Nemesio Beltran Jr. of
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan told Bukidnon News Wednesday.

The proposed Bukidnon plant, one of three in Mindanao and 10 in the
country eyed by Quantum International, is said to address local solid
waste disposal and power supply problems.

The firm has announced in March they plan to close the deal with local
government units in the country for 5 of 10 plants within the year.
The two other plants proposed in Mindanao are in Surigao and Davao.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has initially heard the firm’s proposal
in today’s regular session. Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr has called
Bukidnon’s 20 municipal and two city mayors to be present at the
session. Only 16 of the mayors made it to the session, including
Malaybalay City mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri.

Al Johnson, chief executive of Quantum International, who led a team
at the session, had said in the firm’s letter of intent sent in
October that they are willing to fund, construct, and
operate an integrated plasma gasifying facility in a still
unidentified site in the province.  But back then, Johnson cited they
propose to build a 2,000 ton- capacity plant in the province.

According to the firm’s website (http://quantuminternational.biz/),
their plasma gasification technology involves applying heat to waste
to produce combustible gas which in turn fuels turbines to generate
electricity.

The company is looking at investing at least $250 million to $850
million for each plant, which is enough to cover operation of a plant
capable of processing 5,000 tons of garbage.

Board member Jay Albarece of Bukidnon’s first district said they are
looking at the province’s waste volume capacity for their target plant
capacity. But he noted that the proposal is still in the drawing
board.

“The firm still needs to get the nod of the national government,” he added.

But Beltran said via telephone provincial board members welcomed the
project because it does not entail any counterpart on the local
governments.

In March the company announced they are putting up 10 plasma
gasification plants to address the growing volume of municipal and
industrial solid wastes and the expected power supply shortage in the
Philippines.

Johnson was quoted by Manila reporters that the capacity of each plant
to process and treat wastes might differ depending on the volume and
quality of garbage that would be brought to the site. Johnson said his
company could put up plasma plants that could treat 1,000 to 5,000
tons of garbage.

He said they aim to close deal of five of the 10 proposed plants
within 2012 to process a combined 13,000 tons of garbage. Aside from
the eyed plants in Mindanao, they also eyed one each in Bataan and another in
the Visayas this year.

Johnson said they expect governments to be able to see the value of
the technology, which is said to address not only garbage disposal
problems, but also power supply concerns.

Albarece said Johnson explained that processing 1,000 tons of wastes
could generate 1,000 megawatts and thus, his planned portfolio for the
first five facilities would be able to generate as much as 13,000 MW.

Although Quantum, Albarece said, is open to partnership arrangements
with local companies, he quoted Johnson as saying they had the
technical and financial capacity to do so.

But Albarece said the problem is volume of garbage as 1,000 tons a day
is a lot of solid waste.

Albarece cited that the firm operates two plasma plants in Japan with
lower capacity but added none of it yet in the Philippines. He said
local energy firms in Japan later took over the plants.

Beltran said the firm assured that the plant will have zero waste emission
when he asked for its environmental impact. But he admitted that it
has to be proven as the firm still has to apply with national
regulatory bodies. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)