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SANTO DOMINGO. The feedstock to produce alternative energy based on biodigesters consists of fecal matter and the mortalities, being the pigs those who represent a better source, explains Miguel Lajara, Sanut's CEO.

Producer Wilfredo Bautista explains that in regards to the chickens, these must be caged and not on the ground in order to grasp the raw manure.

As he explains, in the country, 50% of this poultry is caged.

Lajara contributes explaining:

"We're talking about two point five million laying birds. In regards to pigs, we're talking about a population of some thirty thousand sows distributed among small, medium and large producers. Among the large producers, around 90% is already involved in the development of a biodegester project".

During the energy production process, the waste drops by gravity into a pit. The anaerobic process totally exempts the waste of getting in contact with oxygen, allowing methane production. This gas goes to an electric plant, gets filtered to remove some impurities, and generally goes back to the farm to warm the first days of the newborn animals.

"Here we have projects that in order to heat one flock they spend two up to RD$300.000 worth of liquified petroleum gas and that gas was also replaced by that methane", says Lajara.

System used in other countries

Although the use of biodigesters in the country is novel, is not new. Other countries already use them. Among them there is Brazil and Mexico.

"We have participated in events and we have already seen this working normally", says Wilfredo Bautista, who is also a Dominican Pig Farms Association representative.

"In Mexico we saw that this was customary, it was not an invention, it was a reality, and starting from there and looking at our more complicated by the day situation with the environment, and the high living cost, watching that is was already a reality in another place, thus we implemented, we were the first ones who took the risk of doing it here in the country although I wouldn't say it was a risk because it already existed somewhere else.

The producers are finishing a project in Puerto Rico with the dominican technology and are also planning two biodigesters in Panama.

2.5 million birds and 30 thousand sows for producing SD.

In light of the national electric system historical shortcomings, which introduces difficulties for the rural areas supply, and the wish of protecting the environment; Wilfredo Bautista, the farmer, harnesses the waste of his animals to produce his own biodigesters based energy, and with joy he says that he has "twenty two months unplugged from the CDEEE".

That disconnection from the public electric system and the lack of need for buying diesel to fuel the emergency generators used to face the blackouts, has meant monthly savings ranging from RD$900.000 up to RD$ 1 million that used to be destined to this expenses. He even shares part of the exceeding energy with many families neighboring the farm.

Bautista, who has a pig farm in La Vega and another poultry one in Guanuma (Monte Plata) explains that the cost of the biodigester system will depend on the aimed energy production. At Guanuma he has two, and each one cost RD$10 millions, and the plant, RD$40 millions. They produce around 350 kilos in 24 hours.

The experienced producer shared his project during his Free Dialogue participation in this newspaper. He was accompanied by Miguel Lajara, biodigesters promoter and CEO of Sanut, an animal health and nutrition products supplier, and by Enrique Ramírez, director of the National Energy Comission.

With them spoke the CEO of Diario Libre, Adriano Miguel Tejada; this medium chief editor, José María Reyes;’s website editor, Eli Heiliger; Economics section journalist, Amilcar Nivar and the senior writer, Mariela Mejía.

For it's initiative, Guanuma's experimental farm was awarded by the Ranchers Association "for it's alternative energy production".

The plan is that, wherever there is a farm, this system is implemented to cheapen electricity costs, protecting the environment and make the country more competitive.

"Here we were shy in that regard and in order to solve those two things, the environment --which had massive pressure upon us-- and also the great blackouts we have with the Statewide Electric Companies Dominican Corporation [CDEEE - Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Eléctricas Estatales] , they brought us to that alternative.

"We have started it -he adds- and there is already some seventeen or eighteen companies, among the biggest in the country, that are already in the planning process, they're almost done, and we are awaiting for the plants that will generate that movement".

Meanwhile, Lajara explains that for this system, a plant with an structure prepared for producing from methane gas must be bought.

"The stove we have is gas-based, the refrigerators, cooling chambers and the heating for the piglets are also fueled by this gas.

They both indicated that 450.000 animals produce 350 kilos of energy.

"People used to go to the farm to see the animals, now they go to see the biodigesters", states Lajara.

Producers may sell exceeding energy.

A positive and engaging point for the use of biodigesters is that the exceeding energy produced may be sold, as is pointed out by Enrique Ramirez, director of the National Energy Comission [CNE- Comisión Nacional de Energía].

"The same 57-07 law states that when you are a renewable energy producer, you can sell energy either through the net measuring system, when it exceeds, and you sell it to the distribuitor", he said.

He indicated that, counting on the coordination of the Electricity Superintendence, the producer can stablish a private line and sell the remaining energy to "one, two, three, four, five customers" from around his property or wherever the system is installed.

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