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SMC touts low emissions of Limay power plant

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 12:03 AM February 13, 2017

SMC Global Power—the power generation unit of San Miguel Corp.—reported that continuous testing since January of its new clean coal technology power plant in Limay, Bataan, yielded emission results that were “way below” government and World Bank standard limits.

According to 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.

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Sulphur oxide emission was only at 41 parts per million (ppm), compared to the 245 ppm limit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the 700 ppm limit set by the World Bank.

Nitrogen oxide emission was also sharply lower, at only 92 ppm, against the DENR’s 365 ppm limit and the World Bank’s recommended 487 ppm threshold.

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Carbon monoxide, meanwhile, was at a 4 ppm during the latest testing, compared to the DENR’s limit is 400 ppm. The World Bank does not set any.

In terms of opacity or clearness of the air, which is 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 that is 50 mg/Nm3 and the DENR’s is 150 mg/Nm3.

“These results are way, way below our government and World Bank limits,” said SMC president Ramon Ang in a statement.

“When people say coal power plant, they immediately associate it with high levels of pollution,” he said. “But coal remains the most affordable and accessible fuel source today. As such, using it is key to sustaining the country’s power security and keeping the price of electricity down, for the present.”

“The modern facilities we’ve built gave us the benefits of using coal, while dramatically cutting pollution levels,” Ang added.

The company said the technology it uses to produce energy from coal—called “circulated fluidized bed” or CFB—was cleaner and more efficient than the old method of burning coal which resulted in high pollution levels.

Unlike the old, conventional system where coal is burned in high temperatures to produce steam to generate power, CFB technology uses the “fluidization” process where fuel like coal or biomass is mixed with limestone.

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The limestone absorbs 95 percent of sulphur pollutants. The process also involves low heat, leading to lower nitrogen oxide output. Also, the fuels and limestone can be recycled and used multiple times.

A sister power plant in Malita, Davao, which started operations late last year, also yielded low emission results, it 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 week, SMC said it was looking to partner with Asian firms to set up a renewable energy venture, to further diversify its power generation portfolio, which also includes hydropower and natural gas.

Earlier, the DENR shelved its plan to issue a cease-and-desist order on the power plant, after it determined that complaints from informal settlers around the facility that “coal ash” was causing them skin allergies were baseless.

At the time, the facility was being test-run on diesel and was not yet using coal. Dust that was observed was limestone dust, which the DENR certified as nontoxic.

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