Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ecological Entrepreneurship

Since 2009, I've been meeting more and more people who were involved in climate adaptation advocacies.  But far from being the hippie, earth loving types wearing tattered clothes and long hair, the people I met were businessmen who were advocating a different approach to saving the Earth.

Though not completely devoid of the altruism that characterizes people who work for the common interest, the people I met were pursuing an angle on promoting ecologically sound consumption habits and behavior by shedding light on possible means by which it could actually either save them money or earn them money.

One of the first people I met was Ricky Cuenca and Binky Siddayao, whose main advocacy is the propagation of a Resilient Community Program through Renewable Energy.  Here is an excerpt of a document which he wrote together with Gene Gregorio.
Our plan is to tackle all these issues on a community level, where it all begins. creatingan economic model that is based on Community Development (including the political,security, and sociological spheres) and which utilizes renewable technologies will be afirst in the region. Thus, the operative term for the project is Resilience Thru Renewables. 
II. Components 
The key components for the plan includes a mix of the following, depending on the local conditions of communities/municipalities to be targeted:  
1. Biodiesel Mini-plant– harnessing waste oil of the community and restaurantestablishments, and jatropha oil from plantations or backyards for conversion tobiofuels. The same biodiesel plant produces glycerin, a catalyst for Wastewaterand Methane waste digesters.  
2. Alternative Power Source– a Generator run by biodiesel as a primary powergenerating unit, secondary power generating units can include Solar, Wind or River/Wave Action Turbine technology.
3. Potable water– An inexpensive system that can tap groundwater, creek, or river. The water station can also be a primary producer of ice for fishing communities that need to transport their goods to market without risk of spoilage.  
4. Wastewater Treatment– By products of bio-diesel can be used as catalyst for awastewater treatment system designed for the community, if needed.

 5. Waste Management– Collection facilities for plastic and PET bottle collection and recycling, and collection of animal waste for use in methane digesters to create an alternative power source. Farm waste and biodegradables can beconverted into organic fertilizer. 
6. Carbon Credit assets development– A self reliant community can capitalize on its green technologies to generate income by earning credits on their green enterprises

The idea, really, is to make communities self-sufficient in terms of producing energy and fuel -- two of the highest costing necessities.

What, perhaps, will complete this is an organic waste to organic produce cycle. 

This is currently a model which Gene Gregorio, Dobie Naguiat, and myself have been introducing to local government units around the Philippines.

This is not only a great idea, but apparently a necessity and an opportunity at the same time.

It is a necessity, especially after the Department of Energy and Natural Resources warned Local Government Units that they faced penalties for not complying with RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Moreover, and it may not be immediately obvious, the rise in prices of petroleum products not only bring high fuel prices but higher food prices as well.

Urea and other components of chemical fertilizers are by-products from oil refining.

In a paper written on the Philippine Fertilizer Industry, it is pointed out that at least two countries in the Middle East are suppliers of a major portion of the total amount of fertilizers imported by the Philippines.
In 2004, the Philippines bought an aggregate volume of 8.8 Million tons of various fertilizer grades, with urea accounting for 30% and ammonium sulfate for 24%.  Ammonium sulfate is imported when the international market price is lower than that of domestic production.  The majority of the finished fertilzer grades are sourced from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Ukraine, China and Indonesia.  Other important suppliers include Qatar, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, Korea, and Taiwan.
 In 2004, Saudi Arabia accounted for 19 percent of the fertilizer imports and Qatar, likewise, accounted for another 19 percent of fertilizer imports.  Combined, these countries supplied us with 38 percent of the total amount of fertilizers imported in that year.

In a message thread on Facebook last night, Ricky and Gene considered three possible scenarios for the tensions in the Middle East.

Scenario 1: Libya shutdown, plus widespread unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Brent price range of $110-125/bbl. 
Scenario 2: Libya shutdown, plus another shutdown in a medium-size producer, plus widespread unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Brent price range of $125-150/bbl. 
Scenario 3: Unrest spreads to Saudi Arabia and threatens Saudi crude exports and any remaining spare capacity. Brent price range of $150-200/bbl. 
We estimate that front-month Brent prices currently include a geopolitical risk premium of $20/bbl. Our price forecast of $98 Brent on average for 2011, with prices in a $90-105 range, explicitly excludes geopolitics. However, this forecast was published on 22 February and was made the previous week before the crisis in Libya had become serious. There is definite upside risk to our price forecasts, not only for crude, but for products as well.
What are the implications?  No matter which scenario you look at, it looks like the prices of petroleum products will move up. 

That might mean unprecedented increases in the price of fuel, power, and fertilizers -- which results in the rice in the price of food.

Now, put all together, the typical Filipino can start wailing "Woe is me!".  But, to the guys I've been talking to, it looks like the arrival of opportunities.

We already have all the technologies that will help the country deal with an almost disastrous increase in the price of petroleum products.

We already have the technologies to turn cooking oil into diesel; plastic waste into diesel; organic waste to fuel; build an hybrid solar PV system -- tapping not only energy from the sun, but the wind and water as well; and convert organic trash into fertilizer -- that is 10 times cheaper than chemical fertilizer.

1 comment:

Sustainability Guru said...

Sounds like an idealistic concept for a community, but DOABLE & REALISTIC! The bad news is the Filipino political mindset as well as some other officials are FAR from this one. No matter how we try to 'EDUCATE' them and convince them to adopt the practices, bottom line is still quick bucks for some... sad. The good news is we can keep on TRYING! And convincing. Start with our own barangay, town or city, as model example that can be replicated! Then the Philippines can't be too far behind its ASEAN neighbors who are SO into ECOLOGICAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

Let's continue to share the good news!

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