Towering on a strip of shoreline along Bangui Bay are wind turbines that have started generating clean power for the province of Ilocos Norte under the Philippines’ first wind farm.
The wind farm will feed an initial 7 megawatts (MW) to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (Inec), equivalent to 40 percent of the province’s power requirement.
A first in Southeast Asia, the wind power plant is composed of 15 wind turbines, each standing 70 meters or equal to the height of a 23-story building. The wind farm can generate a maximum capacity of 25 MW.
“Tapping abundant wind resources in the country’s vast coastlines is a significant stride in an environment-sensitive, clean-and-green energy program for the Philippines,” said Niels Jacobsen, a Danish investor and president of Northwind Power Development Corp. (NWPDC).
The firm’s officials led Philippine energy officials and national and local leaders in a ceremonial switch-on on Saturday of the Northwind Bangui Bay Project along a 3-km shoreline in Barangay Baruyen facing the South China Sea.
The wind turbines, all connected to the Luzon power grid, began delivering power to the Inec last month. “As stated in our energy sales agreement, we will extend a 7-percent discount (lower than National Transmission Corp. rates) to Inec. This will reduce the power charges being paid by Ilocos residents,” said lawyer Ferdinand Dumlao, NWPDC chair.
Dumlao said the firm would put up five wind turbines next year to generate 8 MW of electricity and meet 50 percent of Ilocos Norte’s power requirement.
Inec, which has a total power requirement of 26MW, will continue buying its remaining energy demand from Transco.
Model for country
Gov. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country’s first wind power plant would serve as a model for more renewable energy sources around the Philippines.
“Ilocos Norte has always been at the end of the supply line (when it comes to power delivery). With the operation of this plant, we look forward to being at the other end of the supply line and avoid the difficulties we have had in the past,” he said.
Marcos’ mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, attended the affair to support her son.
“I congratulate my son. He always surprises me. He continues to impress me, I think he is following the great footsteps of his father," Mrs. Marcos said.
"What we need now is energy that is environmentally friendly. The Philippines has no reason to be poor. We’ve got it all," she said.
The wind farm should have started commercial operations early this year but bad weather prevented the firm’s technical staff from landing their equipment at Bangui Bay. Most of the turbine materials were shipped from Denmark.
This windswept town was found to be one of three areas in Northern Luzon and of nine other islands and inner corridors across the country that can produce up to 70,000MW or power.
“The wind is [normally] too strong out here. You don’t see it today, but this is one of the very rare days when there is virtually no wind,” said Jacobsen, as the rotor blades made a sluggish swirl on Saturday.
The wind in the Bangui coast blows at a speed of 7 meters per second (mps). A wind mapping study conducted by the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found Bangui Bay to be one of the areas across the country where 10,000 sq. km. of windy land exists with good to excellent wind resource potential.
First in RP
The NWPDC, composed of Filipino and Danish businessmen and engineers, led the way in setting up the environmentally friendly and economical source of power in response to the government’s call to establish new and renewable sources of energy.
Former Energy Secretary Vicente Perez Jr. said the Bangui wind farm is a big step toward energy independence while the Philippines is targeting to reach a 60-percent self sufficiency in energy generation by 2010 by promoting wind power.
“We are on our ay to making the Philippines as a leader in wind power [in Asia]. Let it not be forgotten that the epicenter of that goal started on the sandy shores of Ilocos [Norte],” Perez said.
After the wind farm in Bangui, 16 other areas will be offered up for investment with a total capacity of 345 MW.
The Philippines has been found to have potential wind energy of 76,600 MW, leading other wind power-producing countries like Germany, Spain and Denmark.
The NorthWind Power Development Corporation (NorthWind) was organized to develop wind energy as a renewable, environment-friendly, and economically feasible source of energy in the Philippines.
Located in the northernmost part of the Luzon Island in the Philippines in the town of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, the wind turbines project sells electricity to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) and provides 40% of the power requirements of the province of Ilocos Norte.
Phase I of the NorthWind wind power project in Bangui Bay consists of 15 wind turbines, each capable of producing electricity up to a maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW.
Phase II, to be completed by June 2008, will add 5 more wind turbines with the same capacity, and will bring the total capacity to 33 MW. All 20 wind turbines will describe a graceful arc reflecting the shoreline of Bangui Bay.
In 2006, the Northwind Bangui Bay Project generated savings in the amount of approximately US$ 1.4 million (PHP 70 million) for the electricity consumers of INEC.