Lecturer, School of Science and Engineering
Ateneo de Manila University

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An Example of an Integrated Decentralized Energy System




An Integrated Decentralized Energy System
The system harnesses this "new" but "free" energy and stores it for future use.
A detailed description of the implementation of how the system is built around the philosophy that communitarian effort will catalyze human development.
It takes advantage of energy that is abundant in nature, such as wind, micro-hydro, wave, tide, and solar energy.
It will generate direct current to charge batteries.
In this way, energy from the system may be "transported" energy and not transmitted, giving it the reality of portability.
Since the system is designed for "direct current", the prime-movers will operate at variable speed and NOT at synchronous speed.
Ownership and management of each decentralized energy complex will be owned and managed by cooperatives.


My Comments on the Philippines' Renewable Energy Bill of 2005 the Philippines' Renewable Energy Bill

the Philippines' Renewable Energy Bill




This paper contains my own personal dream on how the energy sector in the Philippines must optimize in order to survive and ride the tide.

It is written in Outline form so that points contained here could be amplified further.

My professional experience in the power and energy sectors have brought me here.

I have written the paragraphs that follow to propose new ways of approaching old engineering issues differently.


New Energy is Free

New Energy

This is a new approach to energy. It is important because as new energy, it enables us to psychologically alter our consciousness and treat the pursuit for new energy as an "investment".

As such it carries with it an "internal rate of return" and "payback". Because it is investment, it is NOT like "cost" that flows down the river to never be recovered.

Much of our planning and conceptualization is often colored by psychological preconceptions and baggage that engineering practice has imposed upon us.

What is "New Energy"?

Only a very small amount of energy in abundance in nature is collected. "New Energy" is the energy that would have been wasted away, but is now collected and used to do work or stored in an appropriate manner.

"New Energy" is also that which a manufacturing process would ordinarily waste into the atmosphere, but which we have succeeded in recovering in order to produce more work.

The useful work would now be more than what it was because of this "new energy".

The new efficiency of the optimized process would now become higher than what it was in the unoptimized process.

Inherent Process Inefficiencies.

Many energy processes used today are inherently inefficient, and therefore, when we find ways of making them efficient, we have successfully mined new energy.

First World to Third World.

Some of these inefficient processes are being dismantled in "first world" countries and sold to "third world" countries, leaving the latter with the burden of less efficient processes.


Energy Estates



In the same way that new energy is a new approach, the concept of "energy estates" is also new. This concept implies an integration and optimization in the use of energy from fuel.

Fuel is delivered into the estate. Energy from it is utilized to the fullest extent possible and the remaining energy that can no longer be used is released to the atmosphere.

I am claiming below that the concept of energy estate is, not only viable, but economically sound.

1 Use of Fuel

We use part of the fuel to do work in a process and throw into the atmosphere as waste, that portion that we have not used.

2 The concept of an energy estate is one that

* uses heat (or enthalpy - energy units for each unit of mass) from high levels of energy in one process,

* cascade the lower level of energy to a next process and use enthalpy to do work there,

* cascade the yet lower level of energy to a next process to do work there also, and so on, down the line.

3.3 The Case of Co-Generation

Co-generation in Energy Estates is one form of this cascading process.

* First Cascade. Fuel is burned in the combustion chamber of a gas turbine. The products of combustion, which will have a very high enthalpy level is sent to the turbine blades to turn the shaft and generate electricity (Useful Energy Source No 1).

* Second Cascade. The hot gases from the exhaust still possess high levels of energy and are made to produce steam in a "waste heat recovery boiler" to provide steam for a steam turbine (Useful Energy Source No 2).

* Third Cascade. The exhaust steam with a pressure of approximately 10 bars gage is sent to "Lithium-Bromide Absorption Chillers" to generate chilled water at 6 degrees Celsius for air-conditioning applications (Useful Energy Source No 3).

* Fourth Cascade. The low level energy from the absorption chiller will be passed through a heat exchanger to recover the heat for drying applications (Useful Energy Source No 4).

4 Notice that the Second, Third, and Fourth Cascades are new energy.

In cold countries, the "overall thermal efficiency" of such a process could exceed 90% in winter. Applications in the Philippines could easily realize an overall thermal efficiency of more than 65%.

5 Enormous Benefits

If the overall thermal efficiency of the most efficient thermal power plant on the Philippine grid is 30%, then this system allows the user to extract more than double the energy in a liter of fuel that he uses.

Such a system was bid out in 1998 and awarded in 2000, but was shelved because it was overtaken by the Asian financial crisis.

6 Law on "Buy Back"

The existing Philippine law mandates that the utility buys back excess electricity generated by a co-generation facility, at the utility's "avoided cost" of generating electricity.

This was patterned after the 1978 PURPA (Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act) of the United States federal government.


Renewable Energy Resources




The term renewable resources does not always mean renewable in its strictest sense. I like to give it a very broad meaning as those energy sources that do not come from fossil fuels.

Historical engineering practice often prevents us from developing these resources because we often forget the fact that fuel oil is a commodity that can be bought and sold. As such it is prone to manipulation as many geopolitical economies and forces leverage this commodity for higher and higher profit. As a consequence, renewable resources are really not taken very seriously until the tight energy squeeze comes.

Traditional engineering concepts like frequency, synchronous speed, grid interconnection, and the like have enclosed engineers around the world in a closed box. Engineers who dared think in terms of direct current stored in batteries and used directly or passed through inverters to provide alternating current for AC motors did not get much attention, let alone "funding".

They are told to follow engineering practice as preached by global consultants hired by utilities and confirmed by engineering textbooks and handbooks. They are told that the project carried a very high unit investment (US$ per kilo-watt of installed capacity), and the payback time of the investment is either too long, or non-existent.

I am proposing design changes and new configurations in the succeeding paragraphs.

1 Micro-Hydros

* Run-of-River

Hydro-Electric power plants are usually provided with an impounding dam to collect the water that will be sent to the hydraulic machine downstream to generate electricity.

Such dams are called "storage dams" when they are able to collect plenty of water, and "run-of-river", when they simply stabilize the water flow into the hydraulic turbine.

* Control Systems

Such machines are often rated as 60 Hz or 50 Hz, depending on the geographical region in the world.

The frequency thus severely restricts their shaft rotation to that which will generate the desired frequency, requiring sophisticated speed governors to control the frequency and automatic voltage controls to control the voltage and the power factor of the machine.

* Design Changes

In a new approach, there will be no need for a sophisticated speed governor, nor a sophisticated voltage control system.

- The shaft will simply turn according to the water available, and generate whatever electricity is available from the power at the shaft.

- The alternating current generated here is rectified into pulsating DC.

- A less sophisticated "semiconductor-based switching" system provides high voltage charging current to large batteries.

- Power from these batteries are usable as they are, or it could be converted into alternating current for use in AC motors, as may be required.

2 Wind

The approach will be very similar to the one described for micro-hydros, above.

3 Tide

The approach will be very similar to the one described for micro-hydros, above.

4 Wave

The approach will be very similar to the one described for micro-hydros, above.

5 Ocean current at the Philippine Deep

The approach will be very similar to the one described for micro-hydros, above.

6 Solar Water Heaters for Ocean-Thermal and Air-Conditioning Applications

* Solar energy is collected using ordinary GI (galvanized iron) pipes.

* It is sent to a heat exchanger to send the energy to a client process

* Ocean-Thermal is one such process

* Absorption refrigeration systems for air-conditioning is another example of such a process

7 Ocean-Thermal

* This system assumes that it is environmentally sound to withdraw cold water from the Philippine Deep

* The energy from the solar water heater is made to evaporate a refrigerant medium, or a petroleum compound

* The vapor is used to drive a vapor turbine

* Like the steam turbine, the shaft of the vapor turbine is also coupled to a generator to generate electricity.

* The required energy gradient is provided by the cold water coming from the Philippine Deep, and it will cool the vapor in the turbine to condense it.

* After the water has condensed the vapor, its temperature would become close to ambient, and will now be sent to an oyster farm or fish-culture farm to deliver the abundant nutrients that it carries with it.

8 Binary Cycles for geothermal and solar applications

* These applications work in very much the same way as the Ocean-Thermal, with the exception that the cooling medium does not come from cold water from the Philippine Deep, but from a river, a deep-well, or a cooling tower.

* The fluids from the energy source, i. e., geothermal and solar are isolated by heat exchangers from the fluids that go through the vapor turbines.

* The heated medium will be converted into vapor to drive a vapor turbine.

* The vapor is condensed in an atmospheric condenser which derives its cooling from water from a river, a deep-well, or a cooling tower.

* In other words, replace the cooling medium here with water from deep in the ocean, and the system converts into an Ocean-Thermal installation.

* The finer points of differences would be the working pressures, temperatures and fluid media.

* The design will take cognizance of these.

9 Biomass

The technologies in vogue here are usually related to the combustion of biomass, such as,

* combustion of solid waste, rice hull, coconut husk, coconut shell, wood, etc.

* straight combustion of municipal waste (garbage)

* the incomplete combustion of garbage, coupled with a process to recover the resulting products and convert them into ethanol by a bacteria digestion process.

10 Bacteria Digestion

* Several different digestion bacteria have been collected by different entities.

* Some for the production of vinegar, others for the production of methane gas from human, animal, poultry, and vegetable waste.

* Some bacteria are able to digest hot toxic liquid waste at 60-degree Celsius from sugar centrals into methane gas.

* This gas is sent back to boilers or burned in other heating equipment.

* The effluent liquids and solids are sent to the fields to become fertilizer for rice crops and other plants.

11 Recovery of Deuterium at the Philippine Deep

* The Philippine Deep is said to have the largest supply of Deuterium in the world.

* This substance is used in the development of fusion reactors in New Jersey and other centers. Some extract Hydrogen from Deuterium and use the Hydrogen as fuel.

* Since the supply is within Philippine territory, the Philippines could potentially become the "supplier of choice" for Deuterium once the fusion reactors become commercialized.

* Deuterium may be sold in its raw form and packaged in such a way that it does not disintegrate into plain Hydrogen gas, while in transit.

* Another approach would be to set-up the facilities near the Philippine Deep and utilize Deuterium to produce Hydrogen and Oxygen gases to be exported for use in fuel cells around the world.


Decentralized Energy Systems




NOTE : A separate treatment is given Decentralized Energy Systems. 

            (Click here to go to that section)

Decentralized energy systems (DES) are sources that are isolated from the country's electric power grid. A micro-hydro at the north-eastern side of Luzon, for example, would be considered as a DES.

The concept of DES provides a psychological framework for approaching small energy supplies and renewable energy resources.

* DES sources that are usually renewable and/or isolated diesel-generators

* My technical choice for DES is a Direct Current system that is supported by storage batteries. DC at the proper voltage level could already be sent to households to light electric bulbs and modified florescent lamps.

* This DC source could be converted into AC by inverters, whose output will be used to drive AC motors


Transport Sector



The transport sector uses about 1/3rd of the total fuel import bills of the Philippines.

As a significant user of fuel, specially crafted legislation should be put in place.

Such legislation should show an unflinching belief in the ability of the nation's human resources to steer the transport sector. Relying upon systems from developed countries to provide the solution would be to shoot ourselves in the foot.

* The Hybrid and the Fuel Cell.

Two major approaches for the transport sector would be to use technologies for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) and/or fuel-cell vehicles (FCV)

* Transport Sector to Feedback to the Grid.

* If the economics warrant it, large storage batteries might be installed in these systems so that excess energy is stored.

* Off the road, say at the house, the stored energy could be converted into AC and fed back to the grid, or used for domestic applications.

* This approach might be considered in areas where the cost of the electricity stored in batteries become come out to be less than electricity purchased from the grid.

* Rationalized Transport.

* For convenience, people usually bring their personal vehicles near their place of work, deposit them in secure parking areas and walk to work. At the end of the day, they walk back, pick up their vehicles and drive back home.

* The total gas consumption for this kind of system is a considerable amount, when converted into foreign exchange that is use to pay for it. And the average number of passengers for each vehicle will probably be two at most.

* Many people resort to this approach to avoid the inconvenience and security hazards of public transport as it is today.

* On the other hand, if the owners of these vehicles were given a relatively convenient option, they might take that option.

* For example, if twenty of these vehicles are brought to a safe parking area in Muntinlupa, there would be forty passengers that could now fill up a comfortable 40-seater bus to Ayala center.

* Smaller shuttles would bring them to their place of work.

* The total gas consumption for this scheme might be less than 20% of what it would have been, if each of these vehicles were to drive to work.

* If the estimated savings, is 80%, then its foreign exchange equivalent would not need to be spent to buy fuel, but could be diverted to development projects, say school buildings, textbooks, and so forth.

* Some candidates for such secure parking areas outside business centers would be Sucat, Bicutan, Taguig, Antipolo, Fairview, Caloocan, Valenzuela, Malabon, and others.

* Considered an "investment", expenditure of public funds for this purpose will generate an "internal rate of return" because substantial savings on the "macro level" are projected.


Power Generation Sector




This sector is considered so mature that approaches outside those defined by acceptable engineering practice and by the foreign consultants are not given a hearing.

For example, a good practicing engineer, assisted by world-renowned engineering consultants, designs a power plant without regard to the fact that about 67% of the energy derived from the fuel is thrown as waste into the atmosphere.

Isn't it a crime that such a practice is the norm?

I will discuss in the succeeding paragraphs my own specific ways to depart from the traditional approaches in power generation.

For example, I succeeded in 1982 in altering the design of the "exhaust gas ducting system" of Calaca Power Plant Unit 1, to implement provisions for salt-making in the future. After my retirement from NAPOCOR in 1984 as the head of operations nationwide, there was no longer the drive to move heaven and earth to challenge traditional concepts in order to attain better overall efficiencies.

* Location/Siting

* The geographic sites for co-generation facilities will be identified.

* After this is done, manufacturing plants would be invited to locate around this co-generation facility, given the match between their energy requirements and those available at the facility.

* For example, it would be very advantageous for a chemical plant that needs steam at medium pressures to locate near the facility.

* By doing so, it will not need to procure a stand-alone boiler to supply its steam requirements.

* It will not need to hire operators to go on shift, and maintenance engineers to support the operation of the boiler.

* In the final analysis, the business of the company is chemical, and not steam generation.

* The government should offer incentives to the manufacturing plants because, by locating near the co-generation facility, they have effectively increased the efficiency of the facility.

* This will result in the government saving foreign exchange that it could channel to other developmental projects.

* Dispatch Philosophy

* Dispatching should strictly follow the rule that power plants that generate electricity at "least cost" should be dispatched ahead of all others and removed from the grid last.

* The exception that the load of large base-load plants must would be altered only in case of EXTREME necessity.

* That dispatch shall be based on "incremental" heat rate.

* Industrial Salt-Making

* Power plants located near the sea are fitted with heat exchangers at the passage of the exhaust gases so that energy is recovered for the production of "industrial grade" salt.

* For example, Calaca I (commissioned in 1983) is provided with a duct that can be removed so that a heat exchanger could be put in its place for the purpose of recovering waste heat that could be used for the production of industrial salt.

* In 1996, the Philippines imported 85% of its industrial salt requirements.

* Production of Hydrogen and Oxygen

* Studies should be undertaken to determine if the installation of high voltage transmission systems would be more economical when compared with producing Hydrogen and Oxygen for power plants that are far from load centers.

* Power generation would be used for the electrolysis of water to produce Hydrogen and Oxygen gases that could be used as fuel for industry and for fuel cells.

* Drying Applications

* No matter how power plants are configured, there will always be enough heat that could be recovered for miscellaneous drying applications.

* For example, the geothermal power plant in Tiwi, Albay could be retrofitted with heat exchangers for the drying of such crops as for copra, fish, vegetables and fruits.

* Drying Applications with Dehumidifier

* Steam at 10 bars gage could be extracted from power plants to provide energy to Lithium Bromide absorption chillers.

* The chilled water would be sent to cooling coils to bring their surface temperatures below the air's dew point.

* This will effectively remove some of the moisture in the air to enable it to absorb more moisture from items to be dried.

* The heat that is released from the absorption chiller will be put along the path of the partially dried air to further bring down its relative humidity.

* This resulting stream of air will be much drier than ambient and will become a very efficient drying medium, especially for food.


Power Transmission and Distribution Sector






I have developed only a few radical ways of improving efficiencies is this sector.

The most important suggestion I have is to integrate the planning in this sector to include co-generation systems in the manufacturing sector.

* Co-generation and Integral Part of Expansion Plan

The expansion of transmission and distribution systems should be so planned as to identify manufacturing plants that could co-generate.

* Voltage Regulation

These manufacturing plants will serve the economy as follows:

* It will be able to use fuel more efficiently resulting in less importation of oil,

* It could supply electricity to the grid and help in improving the voltage and power regulation of the system,

* And since it also supplies power to the system, it will enable the utility to save on its investment on copper wires.

* Losses

It will also effectively reduce the transmission and distribution losses on the system because the power carried by the wires for long distances would be reduced.

* Automation

* The automation of power transmission and distribution system should be undertaken at a faster rate.

* Some might argue that automation should be minimized because there is an abundance of skilled Filipino workers who are jobless.

* The answer to that is quite simple: A very short power interruption of even one to five seconds could mean that some manufacturing plants would have to discard a whole batch ("rejects") or label it as "seconds".

* Let the government create jobs so that its people are gainfully employed.

* To the extent allowed by resources, never allow costly "human error" to set into the operation of the power sector.

* Reaction time for the response of operators are simply too short for human beings.

* This is simply not technically possible.


Manufacturing Sector



My suggestion in this sector is to develop an "Energy Geographic Master Plan" that would provide zones to integrate the manufacturing sector, the power generation sector, and the energy estate.


Small Sub-Projects




These small sub-projects do not have wide-range impact, but are mentioned here to underline the possibility that these projects could result in efficiency improvements.

* Dynamo-Meter

Efficiency measurements of internal combustion engines through home-made dynamo-meters. This project shows the efficiencies of engines in vehicles and could assist buyers in choosing a vehicle with a more efficient engine.

* Pollution Measurement

Effluent measurements through home-made gas detection system. This enables the user to determine the pollution load that a specific engine releases to the environment.

* Portable AC System

Charger and inverter system for lawn movers. This project replaces the small, very inefficient and very polluting 2-stroke cycle engine with a clean prime-mover.

* Efficient Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

The interconnection of all the power supplies of computer systems within a building so that a more efficient power system would become a UPS and replace the many power supplies of each of the computers, which have a theoretically lower efficiency of conversion.

This project saves on electricity and shows that things could be done differently from the norm of each computer having its own power supply.

* Intelligent Building Management System

Monitoring and/or control of building parameters that affect billing, such as "peak demand", "energy use", and "power factor" among others. It will have the capability to control the starting of motors so that the coincident power results in a lower peak demand.

* Co-generation System for the Ateneo Campus

After having seen the electricity bills of the Ateneo Campus in Katipunan, I tried to run calculations to determine if a co-generation system could ease the present situation.

My preliminary calculations show that Ateneo could generate a 10-year "equity internal rate of return" (equity IRR) of about 25% and project IRR about half that (to be confirmed using assumptions that Ateneo de Manila uses for its own project analysis) if it did the following:

- install a co-generation facility

- to supply 75% of the electrical energy that it accepts from the utility

- through a capital investment of US$2 million

- broken down into a loan of 40%

- and an equity investment of 60%


Legislative Components



I have been very candid and explicit in my discussion below, in order that the meanings of my statements are clearly stated.

I believe that properly crafted legislation could successfully generate substantial economic benefits for the country and liberate Filipinos from their scientific and technical subservience to those of first world countries and put them on an equal footing with them.

1 Status of Affairs.

- As it stands, there is no law in the Philippines that explicitly favors Filipino initiative over and beyond those that are granted to foreigners.

- "Tax-free importation", "tax holidays", "5% income taxes" for the life of the investment, and others do not give the Filipino a preferred status in his own country.

- On the contrary, tax free importation of the Toyota Prius, for example, benefits the Japanese company.

- The benefit to the Philippines is so insignificant because the buyers of Prius are a very small veneer of the population.

- Millions of Prius-type buses and jeepneys would make a dent on the economy, but I do not believe that this law is the Philippine Congress will make any bit of difference.

2 If I am Allowed to Draft a Law . . .

- Legislation must attend not only to the material needs of the Filipino, but also to his "spirit". Laws will benefit the Filipino society. This is fine, but has everything been said and been done?

- Would a provision that says, in the event that a Filipino or a group of Filipinos want to match a Prius-type performance for buses and jeeps, the government shall undertake 100% equity, because such a venture is to be considered "a missionary government function"? Then this will benefit the country more than the privileged importation of the Toyota Prius!

- Would another provision that as a missionary function, government will sell-off its entire share, or a fraction thereof, should the private sector want to take it over at any stage of the development?

- Would it further make sense if a provision is included that compensates the Filipinos involved in the project to the level of an "expat"? Anyway, the employees of Toyota that makes the Prius are compensated that much.

- As the project succeeds, the Philippines will stand to gain by a factor that would eclipse the benefits of the so-called "tax-free" importation of the Toyota Prius.


How to Proceed




1 Priority Action - Establish a Five-Year Action Plan

- Legislative Committee.

Key Result Area:

Plan information for Round-table discussions with certain lawmakers

- Energy Estate Committee.

Key Result Area:

Revise Industrialization Plan and Energy Plan to incorporate "Energy Estates"

- Renewable Resources Committee.

Key Result Area:

Survey candidate locations within the Philippines that would have the most combination of renewable sources of energy

- Decentralized Energy Committee.

Key Result Area:

Plan strategies for the utilization of available decentralized energy, with emphasis on community structures, the strength of the cooperative movement, and the skills for handling financial matters

- Land Transport Committee.

Key Result Area:

Plan strategies for the development of appropriate transport technologies

- Power Generation Committee.

Key Result Area:

Plan linkages between the power generation sector and the "felt needs" of industry

- Transmission, Distribution, and Manufacturing Committee.

Key Result Area:

Consult with the private sector on their location preferences and formulate an "Energy Geographic Master Plan" that will provide incentives for those that locate their factories according to the Master Plan

- Finance Committee.

Key Result Area:

Formulate a five-year financing plan

- Legislative Committee.

Key Result Area:

In coordination with the appropriate committees of the Congress and the Senate, and with the committees above, formulate a Legislative Action Plan

2 Available Resources.

- All Chambers of Commerce and Industry
operating in the Philippines

- The Energy Management Association of the Philippines

- The Energy Conservation Center Foundation

- All the Power and Distribution utilities

- The Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers

- The Integrated Institute of Electrical Engineers

- The Academe

- The oil companies

- The transport sector

- Government agencies, such as energy, transport, etc.

- And others . . . .

3 Follow the Actions that are Identified by the Committees.