SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. (SMC Global), the power generation subsidiary of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), said daily testing of its coal power plants in Limay, Bataan and Malita, Davao showed emission results that were below the standard limits set by the government and the World Bank.
This is because the two plants are using a new coal technology called circulating fluidized bed (CFB), which is far cleaner and more efficient than the old system of burning coal, which led to high pollution levels, the company said.
CFB technology utilizes a process of “fluidization” where fuel—coal or other biomass fuels–is mixed with limestone. The limestone acts as an absorber of some 95 percent of sulphur pollutants. The process also involves low heat, leading to lower nitrogen oxide output. In addition, the fuels and limestone can be recycled and used multiple times in the operation.
According to SMC Global, based on the most recent results of government-mandated daily testing since January, Unit 1 of the Limay Power Plant consistently produced low levels of sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.
Sulphur oxide was only at 41 parts per million (ppm), compared to the 245ppm limit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the 700 ppm limit set by the World Bank.
Nitrogen oxide was at only 92 ppm, against the DENR’s 365 ppm limit and the WB’s 487 ppm threshold. Carbon monoxide was at a mere 4 ppm during the latest testing. The DENR limit is 400 ppm, while the WB does not set any.
In terms of opacity, or clearness of the air, 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 is 50 mg/Nm3 and the DENR’s is 150 mg/Nm3.
“These results are way, way below our government standards and even World Bank standards,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said over the weekend.
“When people say coal power plant, they immediately associate it with high levels of pollution. But coal remains the most affordable and accessible fuel source today. As such, using it is key to sustaining our country’s power security and keeping the price of electricity down, for the present. What these new and modern facilities we’ve built do is to give us the benefits of using coal while dramatically cutting pollution levels,” Ang said.
A sister power plant in Malita, Davao which started operations late last year, also yielded similarly low emission results, SMC Global 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.