DOE, GAD Partners Empower Community through Biogas Project

The Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and the provincial government of Ilocos Sur, completes the upgrade of a biogas facility in Vigan, Ilocos Sur as an alternative source of energy and as part of its Gender and Development (GAD) program.

This is one of the highlights of the “Gender Mainstreaming and Sensitivity Holistic Advocacy for Renewable Energy Development (GMA-SHARED)” Project, which the DOE-GAD Focal Point System, led by Usec. Loreta G. Ayson, CESO I, and MMSU- Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (AREC) implemented from May 2010 to June 2013.

The proponents of the project upgraded the existing 32 -cubic meter biogas digester to 200 cubic meters benefitting the Benedictine Nuns of the Eucharistic King (BNEK), a monastery of 100 nuns nestled in a five-hectare farming community in Vigan.

"We are continuously and aggressively looking for alternative and viable sources of energy that will benefit our communities. We are also encouraging local communities to be involved in the fulfilment of this cause," Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.

Biogas is produced from the fermentation of wastes, such as manure, which releases methane that is highly combustible and renewable. The said biogas digester can produce around 81 cubic meters of biogas per day or an equivalent of 3 tanks of 11.5 kg liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) a day (90 LPG tanks a month).  

BNEK utilizes the produced biogas for cooking and heating and for most of its electricity requirements through a biogas-fuelled generator. The generated electricity is also shared with the Benedictine Sisters of Eucharistic King (BSEK), a neighbouring monastery.

The communities also see their adoption of the biogas technology as a potential solution to the waste management challenges of handling a pig farm.

Recognizing the valuable contribution of this project to the community, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNFF) Freedom Project 2012 Award honored BNEK’s entry: “Biogas for Cooking and Power Generation:   A Renewable Energy Advocacy Partnership Project” as  the 2nd runner-up among 21 entries.

The FNFF, which is a German-based international non-government organization, initiated the awards in 2011 that recognizes initiatives that promote freedom and empowerment.

Apart from the set-up of the biogas facility, DOE and MMSU achieved 20 other outputs through the Gender Mapping and Sensitivity Holistic Advocacy for Renewable Energy Development program. The partnership project significantly contributed to GAD knowledge management through  publication of books as a result of its research activities, namely: Women & Wind, Water, Fire & SunGender Map of the Renewable Energy Sector in Northern PhilippinesImproved Biomass Cookstove: sourcebook for Gender-Sensitive Household Energy Management, and the Community-based Renewable Energy Systems Profiles; conduct of trainings (i.e., Sustaining Community-based Micro-Hydro Systems, Business in Biomass Waste: Prospects in the Biogas Energy Sector, Gender Mapping Foundation for Genuine Gender-Sensitive Renewable Energy Programs and Projects, among others). 

MMSU also equipped the community with a 1,200W solar water pumping system for farm demonstration and 5 units of Micro-Hydro System-operated rice mills and other electric and electronic devices. A more robust replication of this gender mainstreaming project in other AREC’s nationwide is planned for 2014 onwards in pursuit of the DOE-GAD’s goal of advocating gender sensitivity and renewable energy.