/ 22 September 2022

A PROJECT of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture will soon provide clean energy in rural areas using rice straw.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, said the “Rice Straw Biogas Hub” project is a collaboration of UK-registered startup Straw Innovations as lead proponent, SEARCA, the UK SME Koolmill and UK academic partner Aston University.

The three-year project is funded by Innovate UK under the auspices of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation organization.

“The project will generate biogas as clean energy from waste rice straw and provide an innovative package of technology services for rice farmers,” Gregorio explained.

The project will be operational on a commercial scale in Laguna in September 2022.

SI Director and Founder Craig Jamieson said SI will lead efforts to scale up the rice harvesting system that it has developed over five years and establish a rice drying service through the combustion of biogas from rice straw.

“The project team will also test a biogas engine for combined heat-and-pumping,” Jamieson said.

On the other hand, Koolmill will showcase its energy-efficient rice milling technology, packaged in a pay-per-use business model.

Meanwhile, Aston University will conduct surveys in Laguna and major rice-growing areas in the Philippines to assess the socioeconomic impacts of the Rice Straw Biogas Hub and proposed business models.

Jamieson said that the hub can prevent the burning of 300 million tons of rice straw as waste across Asia each year.

“The hub has exciting potential to bring clean energy access to the 150 million small-scale rice farmers who need it to process their crops and generate new income opportunities,” he said.

Gregorio, meanwhile, said that the hub will introduce the package of rice technologies from efficient grain/straw harvesting, biogas-powered drying, and storage to efficient milling.

“With this, it is envisioned that farmers could triple incomes while protecting the environment. Through an affordable, value-adding commercial business model, farmers will avoid buying and maintaining expensive equipment,” Gregorio said.