Aug. 7, 2012
A new farm waste collection system developed with the assistance of the Land Bank of the Philippines captures methane that can be converted to electricity. The system is now earning carbon credits.
For years, the wastewater from Marcela Farms' 40,000 pigs drained into an open air lagoon, raising a smell and a pollution problem on the island of Bohol, a popular tourist destination in the Philippines. It also contributed to a larger, global problem: its waste stream of manure produced methane, a potent greenhouse gas that escaped into the air contributing to climate change.
Today, the farm is earning carbon credits and producing both power and sludge for fertilizer by separating the methane and the solid waste as part of the first animal-waste biogas Programme of Activities in South-East Asia to be certified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The difference is in how the farm collects its animal waste. A new waste collection system developed with the assistance of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Global Methane Initiative Partnership now directs the farm's wastewater into a modern, covered anaerobic lagoon that separates the methane from the sludge.
Marcela Farms plans to use treated sludge from its pig farm operation as fertilizer for a banana plantation. Photos: Nick Bowden / World Bank
The captured methane can be converted into electricity and used to power farm operations. The excess is flared, which still releases carbon dioxide but avoids releasing methane, a gas that is about 20 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Marcela Farms also plans to use the treated sludge as fertilizer for its nearby banana plantation.
This form of sustainable agriculture for pig farms is lowering greenhouse gas emissions in the Philippines and will generate a revenue stream through the sale of approximately 23,000 carbon credits that the farm will earn per year. Marcela Farms is the first project included in the Methane Recovery from Waste Management Program that was registered with the UNFCCC on July 26. The program was developed and implemented by the Land Bank of the Philippines and supported by the World Bank's Carbon Finance Unit.
"The Land Bank is paving the way for the scaling up of environmentally friendly technologies that reduce the negative impacts of livestock waste on water, air, human health, and the climate in general, not just across the Philippines, but throughout the region," said Nick Bowden, a carbon finance specialist at the World Bank.
"This is the first Programme of Activities from the Philippines to be registered, and it is the first registered biogas Programme of Activities in the animal waste sector in South-East Asia, a region home to a significant number of the world's pigs," Bowden said. A Programme of Activities is a way to bundle similar projects within the UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism to ease their implementation.
With the registration of the Programme of Activities, the Land Bank of the Philippines can help other pig farmers across the Philippines earn carbon revenues by installating similar anaerobic wastewater treatment systems that improve manure management as well as capture and combust methane, some of which will also generate renewable electricity and replace the use of fossil fuel-generated electricity.
The Land Bank provides the necessary funds for the installation of the wastewater treatment systems in pig lots to promote growth and development, particularly for small farms in the countryside where resources can be scarce. The pig farmers can then earn carbon credits for each ton of methane that is captured. Those credits are purchased by the World Bank's Spanish Carbon Fund.
When fully implemented, the program is expected to produce over 100,000 carbon credits per year from dozens of pig farms across the Philippines.