A Generic Strategy for Reducing Electricity Cost, Environmental Impact, and Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth in Communities Hosting Energy & Power Industries
Marcial Ocampo has a lifetime dream and advocacy: to help the country (Philippines) reduce its energy & power costs and consumption by optimizing the capacity and generation mix, reduce oil and energy imports by promoting indigenous resources, reduce the environmental impact footprint of power plants, and promote inclusive economic growth especially for the marginalized communities hosting the power plants and sources of fuels or energy.
Among the generic measures he proposes that can be applied to any country, especially countries with renewable energy sources, are as follows:
1) Use of advanced mixed integer linear programming (MILP) optimization software to process existing power plant data on capacity, efficiency or heat rate, availability and reliability, capital & operating costs, fuel costs & heating value, ramp-up and ramp-down rates and environmental emissions to optimize short-term and long-term capacity and generation mix, in order to achieve cheapest short-run generation cost (SRMC) and least cost long-run capacity expansion (LRMC).
2) Improve the quality of power generation (reliability, availability, frequency, load-following, backup reserves) in the country by having an optimal mix that balances the need for intermittent renewable energy for sustainable growth that also requires high-speed fossil generation to backup such intermittent technologies such as when the sun and wind becomes unavailable momentarily and stabilize the electrical network.
3) Make use of all municipal solid wastes (MSW), liquid and gaseous wastes (bio-gas and land-fill gas) to provide distributed power generation and process heat throughout the country in order to address waste collection, treatment, storage, sanitation and disposal problems. Not all cities and municipalities have access to geologic sites like gullies that can support environmentally sanitary landfills, so it is important that groups of cities and municipalities pool their resources to have a common and centrally located waste-to-energy system (gasification, pyrolysis) power plant utilizing MSW and biological wastes in order to reduce the size of MSW and its treatment residues.
4) Make use of all indigenous energy and fuel resources in the country in order to conserve precious foreign exchange (to purchase petroleum fuels, coal), utilize local coal and natural gas reserves, use carbon-neutral biomass from trees and shrubs to provide fuel pellets to co-fire boilers using oil and coal and thus initiate a gradual shift from fossil to renewable biomass power generation. I believe that anti-coal environmental advocates should take a second and favorable look into indigenous coal since later on, as the world runs out of fossil fuel, the country needs them for power and fuel security. Coal is a transition fuel as the world converts from oil products to renewable energy and delays the depletion of crude oil. It would be a crime in the future to burn oil products as fuel since scarce oil is more needed for lubrication of industrial and transport machineries and manufacture of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.
5) Make use of available renewable energy such as biomass, waste-to-energy, solar PV, solar CSP, wind, mini-hydro and ocean energy provided by waves, thermal gradients, ocean currents and tidal flows due to the gravitational effects of the moon and sun on the earth’s surface that give rise to ocean currents or tidal currents in the vast oceans of the world. Estimates of 1.0 – 2.5 meters per second of ocean and tidal currents are found in the coastal vicinities of Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and Philippines. Ocean currents are predictable and nearly constant as against intermittent solar and wind.
6) To utilize off-peak renewable energy to store energy in elevated dams or barriers, for future release using water turbines when peak energy and power is required. Energy may be stored as potential energy or as chemical energy in the form of Hydrogen gas from electrolysis of water using off-peak electricity and extracted in thermal plants or in fuel cells.
7) Let us integrate renewable energy in the design of our civil and transport infrastructures like putting solar PV and small-scale wind turbines in long-span bridges and dams, or putting ocean and tidal current water turbines under bridges or barrages that connects islands between straits, or when lakes or large marsh lands are surrounded with elevated highways that serves as flood control structures and provided with low-head water turbines to capture the energy of the released flood waters, just like in conventional large impoundment dams. This is one way of reducing the cost of the renewable energy by integrating them in the design and construction of public infrastructures. Building Integrated Photo Voltaic (BIPV) solar panels and rooftop-mounted solar heaters are now used in commercial buildings like malls, hotels and residential buildings to provide electricity and hot water.
8) Lastly, to reduce power costs drastically, adopt mine-mouth clean coal power generation technology (e.g. CFB). By using the low-BTU lignite coal reserves spread throughout the Philippine archipelago, which is economical only to use in mine-mouth configuration due to its low BTU, high moisture, high ash content, but low in sulfur and the mine adjacent to nearby limestone deposits, we can bring down further the electricity cost from base-load coal-fired power plants as it saves on the cost of logistics – hauling coal and barging or shipping costs – which are significant cost items. By integrating mine-mouth coal power plant with co-firing with biomass wood pellets coming from mature rubber trees and other fast-growing trees, the country can provide cheaper power without harming the environment and provide local job opportunities to coal miners and workers of tree plantations near the mine-mouth coal power plant. Planting rubber trees provide an immediate income stream to support the rural tree farm workers during the early life of the tree and once it become old and un-productive, it can be sold as wood pellets to the mine-mouth coal-fired power plant. Once the coal reserves are depleted or uneconomical to extract, the power plant becomes a renewable biomass wood chips and pellet power plant.
I am available for new endeavors this coming August 1, 2017.
I am hoping you would find time to communicate with me and discuss my ideas further.
Marcial T. Ocampo
+63-9156067949 (GLOBE mobile)
+63-2-9313713 (PLDT home landline)