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 May 01 2009
Participants of the workshop, led by FFTC Director Dr. Jen-Chyuan Lee (3rd from right), visit the biodiesel production plant of the Makati City Central Police Station, Philippines.

Participants of the workshop, led by FFTC Director Dr. Jen-Chyuan Lee (3rd from right), visit the biodiesel production plant of the Makati City Central Police Station, Philippines.

TAGAYTAY CITY, PHILIPPINES - The Asian region has been experiencing the fastest economic growth in the world, which in turn leads to rising energy consumption patterns that approach those of industrialized countries as well as to increasing environmental pressure. The main challenge facing the region’s energy sector is how to continue to provide sustainable services for economic growth without jeopardizing long-term prosperity. Hence, the quest for alternative solutions, such as exploring the full potential of biomass energy, has been growing in various degrees and extent in different countries in Asia.

Amid the region’s limited land and rapid population growth, however, biomass production for energy must not compete with food production. Utmost consideration must be placed on the efficacy, safety and cost-efficiency of biomass production for biofuel and in keeping a balance between energy production and food production. Likewise, the use of agricultural wastes for biomass conversion to energy, especially in many developing countries in Asia, must be explored fully to benefit the region’s mostly agricultural producing countries that generate tremendous amount of agricultural wastes.

Aiming to provide a forum for the sharing and exchange of information and experiences among experts in Asia, FFTC in cooperation with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) organized the international workshop on Sustainable utilization of biomass and other organic wastes as renewable energy sources and for agricultural and industrial uses held in Tagaytay City, Philippines in November 2008. Attended by 14 international experts from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines and about 30 local participants, the overall goal of the workshop was to promote a better understanding of the importance of biomass and other organic wastes as alternative sources of energy for the future, while keeping a balance between energy production and food production.

The activity also sought to explore more fully the use of agricultural, municipal and industrial wastes for biomass conversion to energy and other uses. The activity brought attention to the recent rapid growth of the food industry in the region, which has been turning out huge volumes of food wastes, from manufacture, preparation and processing, and post-consumer consumption. Putting food wastes to great use as sources of biofuel, compost, and for other industrial uses will not only promote sustainable waste management but also environmentally friendly and clean and green technologies as well. All these were envisioned to address the need for alternative sources of energy and clean technologies for environmental sustainability.

In further promoting sustainable bioenergy development, the workshop participants identified major areas that require particular attention from the agriculture, forestry and rural development sectors in the Asian region. One of these is the need for more aggressive technology transfer initiatives both at the national and regional levels through information and communication campaigns and activities like seminars and workshops. In the search for renewable energy, it is likewise important to promote the production of second-generation biofuels, which has the potential to provide a larger proportion of fuel supply sustainably, affordably, and with greater environmental benefits. Second generation biofuel processes extend the amount of biofuel that can be produced sustainably by using biomass comprised of residual non-food parts of crops, as well as other crops that are not used for food purposes (non-food crops) such as switch grass and jatropha, and also industry and food wastes.

There is also a need to apply the integrated approach in exploring renewable energy sources, such as the integrated system of biomass and waste utilization for various products, in order to achieve sustainability. Lastly, public enterprises must be encouraged to actively participate in programs on biomass conversion into energy.