Philippines wind energy gold rush

Proposed wind power projects in the Philippines are attracting high-level interest from a number of international energy companies, according to local press reports which claim the Asian country has the potential to develop more than 70 GW of wind energy capacity over the coming years.

The Philippine Inquirer this week quoted a local official as saying that Italian firm Brulli Energia is already conducting land foundation and soil studies as part of a planned 200 MW wind farm in the Oriental Mindoro region of the country.

The official also said the Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems (Phesi) is similarly planning to invest in wind power projects in the province. Phesi is the local subsidiary of the US-based BreezElectric which has been scouting potential wind sites in the country since 2004.

In 2004, the Department of Energy signed pre-commercial contracts with Phesi for four wind farm sites in the Baleno, Abra de Ilog, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon regions.

A study made by the US Department of Energy-National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that the Philippines’ wind potential could provide up to 76 GW of power.

The same study shows that 47 provinces out of 73 in the Philippines have at least 500 MW wind potential and another 25 provinces have at least 1 GW.

Another study conducted by WWF shows that 1,038 wind sites in the country could generate about 7.4 GW of electricity. Almost 5 GW of these sites were in the Luzon district, while 2.1 GW were in the Visayas region.

So far, the only major wind farm development in the country is the $50m Bangui wind farm, which was built by Denmark’s Northwind Power Development Corporation and became operational in June 2005.

The Philippine government does not offer any subsidies for renewables but Northwind earned carbon credits for the wind turbines project under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. As such, any future wind energy projects could also qualify for the UN-backed carbon offsetting scheme.