(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 13, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – SMC Global Power, the power generation subsidiary of conglomerate San Miguel Corp., announced yesterday that continuous testing since January of its new clean coal technology power plant in Limay, Bataan has yielded emission results that are much lower than global standards.
According to a statement released by SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, “The results are way, way below our government standards and even World Bank standards.”
“When people say coal power plant, they immediately associate it with high levels of pollution. But coal remains the most affordable and accessible fuel source today. As such, using it is key to sustaining our country’s power security and keeping the price of electricity down for the present. What these new and modern facilities we’ve built do is to give us the benefits of using coal, while dramatically cutting pollution levels,” Ang said.
According to the most recent results of government-mandated daily testing, Unit-1 of the Limay Plant consistently produced low levels of sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, the company said.
Sulphur oxide was only at 41 parts per million, compared to the 245 ppm limit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the 700 ppm limit set by the World Bank.
Nitrogen oxide was at only 92 ppm, against the DENR’s 365 ppm limit and the WB’s 487 ppm threshold.
Carbon monoxide was at a mere four ppm during the latest testing. The DENR limit is 400 ppm, while the WB does not set any limit.
Lastly, in terms of opacity, or clearness of the air, which is also used to indicate particulate matters, the Limay plant registered just 0.8 percent, with dust at only 2.4 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/Nm3). The World Bank standard for particulate matters is 50 mg/Nm3 and the DENR’s is 150 mg/Nm3.
SMC Global Power explained that the technology it is using to produce energy from coal – dubbed “circulated fluidized bed” or CFB – is different, far cleaner, and more efficient than the old system of burning coal, which results to high pollution levels.
Unlike the old, conventional system where coal was burned at high temperatures to produce steam to generate power,CFB technology utilizes a process of “fluidization”, where fuel – coal or other biomass fuels – is mixed with limestone.
The limestone acts as an absorber of some 95 percent of sulphur pollutants. The process also involves low heat, leading to lower nitrogen oxide output. In addition, the fuel and limestone can be recycled and used multiple times in the operation.
A “sister” power plant in Malita, Davao which started operations late last year, also yielded similarly low emission results, the company said.
Meanwhile, Unit-2 of the Limay Plant is still being test-run on diesel and will be operational by the second quarter of this year.
Last December, the DENR decided not to issue a cease-and-desist order on the power plant after it determined as baseless complaints from informal settlers around the facility that coal ash was causing skin allergies.