HOUSE ENERGY PANEL LOOKS INTO THE IMPACT OF BIOFUELS ACT
The Committee on Energy in the House of Representatives created a technical working group (TWG) to look into the performance and impact assessment of the Biofuels Act of 2006 in aid of legislation.
The formation of the TWG is a direct result of House Resolution 400 filed by AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Representative Sharon S. Garin.
Rep. Garin, who represents marginalized farmers in Congress, sought the inquiry saying that Biofuel development might be threatening the availability and supply stability of food due to diversion of land and other resources from food production to biofuel expansion.
The TWG is composed of representatives from the government agencies concerned, the energy industry, the academe, and civil society organizations (CSOs). The output of the TWG, once final, will be presented to the Biofuels Oversight Committee.
In the first meeting of the TWG, Department of Energy (DOE) Renewable Energy Management Bureau Assistant Director Marissa Cerizo discussed before the House panel the on-going Economic Impact Study (EIS) being conducted by the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) on the viability of increasing biodiesel blends from the current 2 percent requirement to 5percent in 2016.
The Department Of Energy, under its Philippine Energy Plan 2012-2016, targets to increase the biodiesel blend to 5 percent from the current 2 percent. Domestic supply and availability of locally sourced biodiesel components like coconut methyl ester which is the country’s version of biodiesel are being considered.
Pilipinas Shell Country Business Manager Mark Nicdao said that the attainment of the target increase in biodiesel blend is hampered by supply concerns, explaining that the volume of coconut produced in the country is insufficient to meet the demands for biofuels feedstock.
UPLB Vice Chancellor Rex Demafelis said that the strong typhoons in the past months have affected greatly the coconut production and the coconut scale insects infestation also added to the decline in coconut production.
The DOE also reported that it has allowed the continuous importation of bioethanol as there is a shortage in local production.
Various resource persons engaged in the research and development of biofuels also informed the Committee of the breakthroughs in technologies involving various sources of biofuel feedstock including sweet sorghum, hydrous ethanol, nipa sap, macro algae and sugarcane.
Rep. Garin asserted that it is time to look if there are other plants, agricultural wastes, or residues that could be developed for biofuels expansion, apart from the biomass feedstock currently used in biofuel development.
The TWG is set to continue its discussion and presentation this September. /MP