Vigan Benedictine nuns, biogas pioneers

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Immaculate Heart of Mary Abbey Chapel

VIGAN City, Dec. 30, 2012—With the rising cost of LPG and electricity, Benedictine nuns are practical pioneers with an ongoing biogas project that provides their abbey with cooking gas and power.

Biogas-run abbey

“Using biogas for cooking and power generation in our abbey has greatly helped us save our budget so that we can use it in other financial needs of the abbey,” stressed Mo. Mary Cielo Cortez, OSB, abbess of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Abbey (IHMA), mother congregation of the three other independent monasteries of Benedictine Nuns of the Eucharistic King (BNEK).

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom-Philippine Office recognized the nuns’ “Biogas for Cooking and Power Generation” project as a runner-up for the Freedom Project Award, which highlights programs of civil society organizations, national and local government and that allow communities to experience the benefits of freedom, last December 4 at the Hotel H2O, Manila.


The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Mariano Marcos State University – Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (MMSU-AREC) assists the abbey to run its 232 cubic meter-capacity biogas digester, that supplies energy, not only for cooking and power generation for the abbey itself, but also for its piggery.

2009 partnership

Inside the five-hectare land of the IHMA of the BNEK, is a poultry and piggery farm that supplies raw materials needed for biogas production.

A partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Mariano Marcos State University – Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (MMSU-AREC) paved the way for the project in 2009, providing the congregation with a 5KV generator.

According to Mo. Mary Cielo, the abbey had been using biogas for a long time, even before she had entered the order, but it was only in 2009 that the technology was considerably improved.

DOE explained that “the project addresses the problem of increasing/fluctuating price of fuel for cooking, particularly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), denudation of forests for fuel wood, and the government’s call to utilize renewable energy resource.”

The Benedictines of the Eucharistic King (BEK) was founded by a German nun Mo. Edeltraud Danner OSB in 1931, which was eventually split into BNEK and BSEK in 1986. [Mark Vertido/Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]




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