Posted tagged ‘biofuel’


February 12, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza


In the province of Ilocos Norte, in northern Philippines, is a pilot project for wind energy… Hydraulics application has already seen the rise of dams that generate at least couples of thousands of megawatts of power… Geothermal energy will be breaching the 3,000 megawatt level soon, making PH the world’s top geothermal power producer.


There are more such narratives of nascent and maturing power producers that tap alternative energy sources, or energy other than fossil fuel. We have vast reserves of natural gas in the country, which is fossil-related though clean energy in classification.


Solar power is a sunrise industry, and the good news is that our engineers here have exceeded the capability level of those in California and elsewhere in producing state-of-the-art solar panels. Ocean power research & development is proceeding at rapid pace, with installations projected in pilot areas in the short run.


Wind power potentials of the Philippines itself is projected at past the 70,000 megawatt level, which is a whopping figure that is over five (5) times the current electricity needs. Already, over 3,000 megawatts of wind power projects are in the pipeline, either as on-going or soon-to-start-installation projects.


In Manila, shuttle vehicles powered by electricity ferry shoppers at the Araneta Center and the Mall of Asia or MOA. Jeepneys in Makati using electricity are also shuttling shoppers as well as employees around the classy Ayala Central Business District, the country’s financial center. Tricycles powered by electricity are also rising, while motorbikes powered by electricity are now in use in Palawan.


The news about the usage of alternative energy is increasing by the day in the Philippines. Hopefully, the industrialized Northern countries will move ahead in shifting towards clean energy despite the economic downturns they are now experiencing. Emerging markets are surging ahead in this very dynamic field, and this phenomenon is causing me a sense of fulfillment and happiness being a habitué of the ASEAN.


In previous articles, I already shared the information about China’s perfection of the nuclear fusion technology. The news first reached my attention in 2007, and at that time it was projected that the first commercial prototypes for fusion breeder plants will be out in 10 years time. That means that as early as 2016 China will launch nuclear plants powered by fusion technology.


So dynamic is the field of alternative energy R & D that the sources of ideas for it are like oceans of thought. There simply are too many options for deriving alternative energy, so that in the not-so-distant future the starships for traversing space will be fueled by clean-recyclable-inexhaustible energy.


Let’s take the planet itself and its constant motion. As the planet moves around its axis, torque is generated. Torque is a potential source of energy, and for as long as the Earth revolves around its axis, torque will be inexhaustible. This is one area that I wish to be involved in the R&D phase itself.


Airplanes, airships, rockets and satellites can be fuelled in the future by torque among many options. By airships I mean maritime ships of today that can be retrofitted and re-engineered to be able to fly in the air, though at low altitudes, thus turning into a more efficient passenger vehicle more than today’s airplanes.


Another planetary source of energy for tomorrow is albedo. Around 1/3 of the heat that gets to the Earth from the Sun and other celestial sources escape as albedo. My thesis is that the escaping albedo can be tapped as an inexhaustible source of energy.


Necessarily, the policy environment and institutions that will propel clean energy and make it the sole energy source in the future should be prepared and strengthened early enough. Incidentally, the Philippines is among the countries with an exemplary policy environment for clean energy, and so industrialized and emerging markets can emulate the experience of my country in this line of endeavor.


The long-term goal, of course, is to rid the planet of fossil fuel. At some point in the future, extraction of oil & gas should be put to a stop. Prolonged extraction is causing imbalances in the geological structures of the planet, imbalances that can be irreparable in the long run. It would be best to carve out a global policy architecture to cease all fossil fuel extractions in the future, and enforce this strictly.


I would be celebrating the day when fossil fuel will cease to be the source of electricity and vehicular power in the foreseeable future. As far as electricity generation is concerned, the Philippines is almost there. But I shall wait a bit till electricity will be totally clean and using non-fossil energy sources.


[Philippines, 09 February 2011]





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July 18, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Agriculture remains to be among the most protected sectors of the US economy. Enough to cause ceaseless chagrin on the members of the WTO, who have been demanding that the EU-USA-Japan trilateral belt better play by the rules and remove the trade barriers in agriculture.

But the overall alarming trend in America’s agriculture is the rapid shrinking of arable lands altogether. Lucky enough that America is blessed with millions of acres of arable land, but the liberalization of land use conversions affected this mighty economy strongly like in other countries. Prime agricultural lands are being transformed into commercial and residential lands, most specially those southern regions that practically fed the whole America for nigh centuries long.

Agriculture is following a general trend of economic decay. The historic practice of mono-cropping alone had already created havoc on the soil quality in many places across the US. Compounding the decay problem is the pressure by WTO members for the sector to bring down the trade barrier, thus possibly bringing in floods of cheap food imports from Europe and the south.

Just recently, the inflated marketability of biofuels led many a planter to shift to massive corn production, for the sole purpose of raking profits on alternative fuels. Of course, many hedge funds and enthused investors had cashed in on the biofuels craze, and news came out that even Bill Gates had invested in this ‘greenfield’ energy source.

Estimates put the amount of corn planted to biofuels as more than enough to feed over 110 million people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed for sure! But feeding mouths is hardly the priority in the US agriculture today, the core focus being the next round of looting on the consumers’ purse by driving food prices upwards both due to the biofuels craze and speculation on food stocks.

So, what say you, voters of America? Let’s just hope the political bigwigs contesting the presidency will indeed take the interest of ‘food security’ at its core. Failing to do so, America itself might end up with inflated food prices in the couples of years ahead, and believe it or not, the Depression era of seeing people without food on their plates may come back. The difference being that the Great Depression was only quite temporary, while this coming ‘food insecurity’ will be around for a very long time.

This brings to mind what the late John Meynard Keynes declared cryptically, “in the long run, we shall all be dead!”

[Writ 06 June 2008, Quezon City, MeroManila]