Thursday, May 2, 2019

Solar irrigation rollout targeted for early 2020

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rice farmer
The Department of Agriculture and various other agencies have agreed to fast-track the Solar-Powered Irrigation project so the network will be largely in place by the next El Niño. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and various other agencies have agreed to fast-track the Solar-Powered Irrigation project so the network will be largely in place by the next El Niño.

“Today with NIA (National Irrigation Administration) and BSWM (Bureau of Soils and Water Management), we agreed to fast-track the project because this is the only way we can protect our farmers from next El Niño,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a briefing Thursday.

“We have to fast-track it because if hindi namin mahabol [the system is not in place] by early 2020, 2021 [will be the next window for] implementation,” he said.

Currently, the dry spell has caused crop damage worth P7.96 billion with an estimated volume of 447,889 MT worth of output lost.

The interagency committee met today to draft the national irrigation map (NIM), a plan which hopes to identify more areas for food production along with the needed water resources.

An Israeli company, LR Group, has offered to fund the deployment of 6,200 solar-powered irrigation units for P44 billion. These units have the capacity to irrigate 500,000 hectares, out of the over two million hectares estimated to be in need of irrigation.

“(LR Group) agreed that as things stand now, they are not part of the project because it will be a government-to-government engagement. We are waiting for a document from the Israeli government for a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on the solar-powered irrigation system project cooperation,” he said.

The Philippines has a total of 3.9 million hectares of farmland, with only 1.2 million hectares effectively irrigated.

After the document is studied by the DA’s legal team, it will be signed by the DA and the Israeli government. Then, the department will submit a proposal to the National Economic and Development Authority -Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC), which will then approve the project, setting up a Swiss Challenge, where alternate providers can submit better bids while LR holds the option to match them.

The funding plan calls for repayment within 10 years and a grace period of two years. The total cost of the project is P50.5 billion, including counterpart funding of P6.6 billion.]
Mr. Piñol said the DA hopes to submit the proposal to the NEDA-ICC by June.

Mr. Piñol added that the current dry spell struck at a time when many crops were being harvested or had reached maturity. As a result, the DA is maintaining its 20 million metric-ton (MT) target for rice this year and 8.64 million MT for corn. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Monday, April 29, 2019

PICC goes solar

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) recently launched its solar photovoltaic system. The Solar PV Rooftop facility (shown here) was built in collaboration with the PNOC Renewables Corporation, as part of its energy efficiency program for government agencies in support of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. 
The project is PICC’s first foray into sustainable and renewable energy. Prior to its launch, the center pursued efforts to minimize its environmental impact, with various initiatives covering energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste management. It is the largest solar PV facility that the PNOC RC has installed, with a capacity to produce 1,200,000 kWh of electricity annually and provide clean energy for PICC. 
This facility could likewise offset at least 1,000 metric tons of carbon emissions from fossil fuel energy sources. “The Solar PV rooftop facility further strengthens our commitment to environmental awareness and protection,” said Atty. Renato B. Padilla, general manager of the PICC.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

SC orders permanent stop to cutting of trees for SM Baguio expansion

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THE SUPREME Court (SC) has permanently prohibited the cutting and transferring of trees in Luneta Hill in Baguio City for the expansion of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.’s (SMPHI) SM shopping mall. The justices, in their en banc session on Wednesday held at the SC Compound in Baguio City for the high court’s traditional summer sessions there, made permanent the temporary restraining order it issued on March 24, 2015 on the “cutting and balling of trees” in Luneta Hill, according to SC Public Information Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka. 

“This is without prejudice to the filing of another application for an environmental compliance certificate in accordance with existing laws and regulations,” Mr. Hosaka added. SMPHI legal counsel Ryan San Juan, in a statement, said, “We have not received any resolution on this matter from the Supreme Court.” 

The case stemmed from the petition of the Cordillera Global Network (CGN), which sought to stop the cutting of trees after the management of SM City Baguio reportedly cut 60 old-growth pine trees in Jan. 2015. SM City Baguio proceeded with the clearing of portions of Luneta Hill following the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in Dec. 2014 that lifted the temporary protection order issued in April 2012. 

The CA dismissed the petition of CGN, ruling that it failed to prove that the cutting of trees would incur irreparable damage to the environment and cultural heritage. SM City Baguio plans to build a seven-storey ‘Sky Park’ project in the area. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Total Solar expands in Philippines with Gaisano deal

[ bworldonline ]
TOTAL SOLAR SEA will install solar energy systems in four Gaisano malls.
A UNIT of French oil company Total S.A. has secured contracts to install solar energy systems on the rooftop of four Gaisano malls in Luzon and the Visayas with a total capacity of 1.66 megawatts (MW).

In a statement, the subsidiary Total Solar SEA said it had locked in contracts with Gaisano Capital, the entity behind the malls, for its first project in the Philippines.

Total Solar said the installation can generate around 2,257.3 MW-hour in a year. The malls in Binangonan, Calapan, Masbate and San Carlos will have an installed capacity of 536 kilowatts peak (kWp), 268 kWp, 375.2 kWp, and 482.4 kWp, respectively.

The project is expected to help Gaisano Capital cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 million tons and reduce its expenses.

“Construction of the facilities will begin in November and will be online early 2019,” Total Solar said.

The solar energy developer said it complies with the highest environmental, health, and safety requirements. It said the facilities will use only Tier 1 components and work with the most experienced local contractors in the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry.

Total Solar develops, owns and maintains solar PV rooftop and behind-the-meter facilities that are contracted either through a power purchase agreement or lease agreement, depending on a country’s legal environment.

The company said it is one with Total (Philippines) Corp. “in its commitment to becoming the responsible energy major, catering to the energy needs of the country and its communities.”
Total Philippines is the local subsidiary of Total S.A. and is engaged in the marketing of fuels, lubricants and special fluids. It operates a network of more than 420 service stations in Luzon and the Visayas.

Through Total Solar, the French oil firm as an integrated operator is present across the photovoltaic solar value chain, including cell manufacturing and solar power storage to electricity sales.

Total S.A. said it has been committed to advancing solar energy for more than 30 years. The company also develops and operates large solar sites and decentralized systems at homes, plants and offices. — Victor V. Saulon

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mining in six regions greenlighted

by Kuhlin Ceslie Gacula-

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Thursday announced that quarrying operations in six regions may resume after a week of suspension.

At a press conference held at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) main office, Cimatu announced that suspension of selected quarrying sites was lifted after the department’s review teams conducted quick assessment and site inspections to assure the public of safety from quarry operations.

“There are no communities around the quarry sites that will be affected in case of a landslide,” the Environment chief said as he greenlighted 90 percent of quarrying operations.

Given the go-signal to resume operations were 13 mining firms in La Union, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Batangas, Rizal, Camarines Sur, Misamis Oriental, Iligan City and Davao City.

The quarrying ban remains in Naga City, Cebu, however, after the landslide incident that buried more than 20 houses and killed more than 60 people.

According to the DENR head, mining by Apo Land Quarry Corp (ALQC) in Naga is part of the “10 percent” of quarry operations that remain halted.

Cimatu disclosed that what prompted the decision to allow the mining sites to operate anew was to ensure the stability of cement production and supply in the country.

It was after Department of Trade and Industry raised concerns the quarry ban may affect prices of cement — a necessity in the government’s construction projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

ALQC, which is still banned from conducting operations, is one of the biggest cement manufacturers in the Philippines.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Environment groups blast gov’t on mining ‘turnaround’

by: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 09:10 PM August 31, 2018
Environment groups on Friday blasted the plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue more mineral reservations in the country as a “reversal” of Duterte government’s supposed anti-mining policy.

In separate statements, the Center for Energy, Environment and Development and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment scored the DENR for its failure to live up to its mandate of safeguarding country’s natural resources.

“If this (proposal) pushed through and gets affirmed by the President, this will then be a clear signal of the blatant reversal of anti-mining pronouncements of the President during his Presidential campaign and his past (State of the Nation Addresses),” said CEED Gerry Arances, executive director.
The DENR, in a news release on Thursday, announced it was set to declare more mineral reservation areas throughout the country “to help provide equitable access to mineral resources and generate additional nontax revenues for the government.”

The announcement came on the heels of the 2017 Commission on Audit report, which questioned the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s failure to collect some P2.7 billion in royalties from existing mining operations.

The government’s economic managers also blamed the lackluster performance in the mining and quarrying industry for the “slow” growth of the economy, dropping to 6 percent in the second quarter.

Lawyer Analiza Rebuelta Teh, DENR undersecretary for mining concerns, said the declaration of mineral reservations shall allow government to collect royalties—something it cannot do with the present mining operations.

But the DENR must approach its newest tack with caution, Arances said, as the government’s control and management of declared mineral reservations remain “plagued by various issues”.

“It has been clear in many studies that no amount of increase in share and royalties from mining can outweigh the devastating impacts to watersheds, forest cover, climate resiliency and many others,” he said.

For Kalikasan PNE, the planned expansion of mineral reservation areas is “unsurprising”, as the Duterte administration has been known for “successive reversals” amid the President’s “tough-talk” on mining policies.

Leon Dulce, Kalikasan national coordinator, cited the impending reversal of the closure and suspension orders for 24 of the 28 mines sanctioned by former Environment Sec. Regiina Paz Lopez, and the recent lifting the two-year mining exploration ban.

He dismissed the newest DENR move as one for fiscal equity, but a “clear attempt to further wholesale” mineralized lands in the country.

Opening up more lands to mineral reservations is part of the “more business as usual” scenario which the Duterte government is pursuing, he said.

“The fact that this peacocking to foreign mining investors when outstanding problems in environmental and social regulations remain unaddressed runs contrary to the promise of cracking down on destructive mines,” Dulce said.   /kga

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Firm plans to save Pasig River through blockchain tech

Entrepreneur and environmentalist Mariano Jose Diaz Villafuerte IV, chief executive officer of CypherOdin Inc. and cryptocurrency BOTcoin, said blockchain technology can solve the problem and clean the 27-kilometer river.
Miguel De Guzman/File
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2018 - 12:00am 
MANILA, Philippines — A cryptocurrency company is trying to convince the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council and other attached agencies to rehabilitate Pasig River using blockchain technology.

Entrepreneur and environmentalist Mariano Jose Diaz Villafuerte IV, chief executive officer of CypherOdin Inc. and cryptocurrency BOTcoin, said blockchain technology can solve the problem and clean the 27-kilometer river.

“We first came up with the idea of showcasing how blockchain technology can clean up the environment, using Boracay as an example. However, the government shut the island down in April, so we looked at (Pasig) instead as the next most important body of water in the country,” Villafuerte said.

He said his company plans to install internet of things (IoT) devices in the river to monitor water quality or tide levels and other relevant data to track and monitor their progress in real time.

This will enable them to generate and analyze the data produced, which will serve to create the impact they are looking for toward solving the plastic and garbage problem that silts the river. 

Villafuerte said CypherOdin would be using drones to map the plastic using lidar detection system on a microscopic level.

“We will collect all the data we gather from these IoT and process them so we will have comprehensive information on where the plastics and garbage are coming from, how they are moving, among others. This would allow us to analyze and come up with recommendations on how to best to clean up the river,” he added.

Villafuerte said they also plan to launch a massive information drive, particularly with communities along the riverbanks and near the river, about the importance of proper garbage disposal and environment protection.

The communities, he said, would be given incentives with BOTcoin cryptocurrency for a certain amount of garbage they collect from the river and for not throwing plastics into it. 

“This would encourage the community also to respect the river because they will be earning something from it,” he said. – Rey Galupo