Philippines wind energy potential remains untapped

Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the Philippines has yet to harness wind power as a renewable energy resource and should vigorously pursue clean energy projects.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), cited a report made by the Energy panel of COMSTE indicating that despite recent aggressive moves to develop and install large wind farms in the country, the potential for this Renewable Energy (RE) source is still untapped.

"By exploiting innovative RE Systems like wind energy, we can move towards achieving the long term goal of energy independence," said Angara, who also noted that RE produces roughly 40% of the country’s total energy, but this is mostly geothermal, while wind power, solar, and micro-hydro account for less than 1%.

An assessment of the Philippines wind power potential by the US based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects that the Philippines has over 10,000 square kilometers of areas that have good to excellent wind source potential. This means that the Philippines has 76,600 MW of potential capacity. These numbers only reflect capacity for large wind systems.

Angara said that wind power technology is a mature technology, and installed capacity for wind systems is growing worldwide at about 30% annually. With the analysis of NREL and availability of technology and suppliers, the Philippines can become a regional leader in wind energy production.

The Philippines has only one operational large scale wind farm in Bangui Bay, Ilocos, which generates 33 MW. However, smaller stand alone systems have been deployed around the country. Smart Telecommunications Inc., has utilized wind energy in powering a 47 of their cellular sites in remote areas.

According to the COMSTE report, Japan has expressed interest in working with local partners to develop small wind energy systems by developing and localizing technology. The Japan based International Center for Environmental Technology (ICETT) has already carried out a pilot demonstration project for innovative small wind technology. If developed, small wind technology can up the country’s wind power potential to 97,000 MW.

Wind pump technology also has potential applications in the country. The technology uses wind power to pump water for irrigation purposes. The report states that there are seven local manufacturers and suppliers of windpump technology, but they are in need of R&D support from the government to improve performance and capacity of their systems.

The COMSTE Energy and Environment panel is composed of experts and executives in Energy and is Chaired by former DOE secretary Francisco Viray with members Nereus Acosta, Alvin Culaba, Antonio La Vina, Jose Maria Zabaleta and Federico Puno.