Apr 21, 2018 News
-Corentyne Chamber urges bagasse use
The Skeldon Energy Inc. (SEI) in its drive to develop the use of alternative biomass fuels to be used as an energy source in place of bagasse, met with rice farmers, sawmill operators and members of the private sector to discuss and determine their willingness to supply Bio-mass material including rice husk, rice straw, and sawmill waste to fuel the power plant while creating economic benefits within the community by providing employment.
The goal is to have the plant operating for ten months a year. Some 100,000 tons of biomass fuel is needed to do that. One machine is expected to be operating at 50 percent capacity. With the supply of the fuel, it will operate one turbine and one boiler continuously. This is according to the SEI Projects Manager, Mr. Carl Duncan.
The biomass fuel is expected to come from supplies of coconut husks, rice straw, wood, paddy shell, wood shavings, etc.
SEI has thus far managed to acquire 200 tons of firewood from various suppliers from the region between Crabwood Creek, Baracara and Mara. The firewood is being processed to produce chips using a test wood chipper that was recently acquired from China.
On completion of the processing of the chips, it will be used for testing of the boiler to determine proper feasibility.
Duncan added, “We are going to move to cane grass; we carried out some tests on the Linden highway with the marginal soil and the results came back great.”
Local farmers, during the meeting with the SEI officials, inquired about the price that they are willing to pay suppliers for the material (rice husk).
Duncan stated that the basis of the price of biomass depends on the heat value. The entity is willing to pay $4000-$5000 per ton of rice husk based on how dense it is. He however pointed out that they are also prepared to sit and negotiate with the suppliers.
“Even though we might pay a little more than normal is because of the economic benefit it can create within the community,” Duncan said.
Mohamed Rafeek, President of the Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, making his point at the meeting argued that what SEI is proposing is “not possible”. He stressed that 100,000 tons in 10 months at 10,000 tons per month and 333 tons per day “is a lot of weight and what you are trying to achieve is impossible”.
He also stressed that there is a contradiction with what the SEI officials are proposing by stating, “You are talking about renewable energy and you are cutting down trees.” Rafeek opined that instead of the sugar factories being closed, “they could have produced the bagasse or what you are trying to achieve.”
He added they should be pushing for more bagasse instead of the alternative of biomass fuel, which is not feasible. The businessman suggested that farmers plant their own sugar on their land and in turn sell bagasse to the plant.
In responding to Rafeek, the SEI projects manager stated that as for harvesting firewood for the burners it is a short-term goal with the long-term goal being the use of cane lands to plant fuel grass. This, Duncan said, is to encourage cane farmers who have idle land to be involved in planting the fuel grass.
“All we are talking about is getting the waste from the sawmill and from the forest itself. You are saying cutting down trees but a lot of forest waste is left in the forest. Trees are being cut down all the time and you are just taking what you want,” Duncan explained. He stressed that the 333 tons does not include wood alone.
Former member of the board at Skeldon Energy Inc, Gobin Harbhajan, stated that he has been advocating for job creation during the discussion stages where the proposal was made to use biomass fuel to operate the boiler.
“With the coconut shell, husk, paddy straw, saw dust, wood etc, it is not gonna be a problem for forestry because many of the sawmills throw away chip wood and shavings and the same with the rice farmers, they burn the straw. A man with a canter can make an honest living and bring to the plant and work out a price.”
The meeting for the proposed SEI Biomass supplies was held at the Skeldon Estate Training Building with the head table consisting of the Chairman of SEI Mr. Lloyd Rose, Projects Manager, Carl Duncan and Mr. Gobin Harbhajan.
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