Philippines asked to harness wind energy

The Congressional Commission on Science and Technology (Comste) asked the Aquino administration Saturday to harness wind power as a renewable energy resource after scientific studies showed that the Philippines has a potential capacity of 76,000 megawatt (MW) of wind energy, more than enough to fill up the country’s power demand of about 2,000 MW in the next five years.

The call by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, Comste chairman, came as the import cost of oil has inched toward the $120 per barrel level and local oil companies are raising their oil pump prices.

As one of the guests in last Friday’s 25th celebration of the Feb. 1986 EDSA People Power phenomenon, former Sen. Agapito Aquino, brother of slain Sen. Benigno Aquino and uncle of President Aquino, said that the Philippines, having improved its political climate, must now shift its attention to its economic problems.

“The Philippines has yet to harness wind farm as a renewable energy resource, and tasked the commission to develop Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and investors to research the development of the industry,’’ Angara said.

Angara 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,” Angara said.

He also noted that RE produces roughly 40 percent of the country’s total energy, but this is mostly geothermal energy, while wind turbines, solar power, and micro-hydro account for less than one percent.

The National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) projected that the total local power demand for the Philippines in the next five years would be within the range of 1,500 to 2,000 MWs.

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.

What this means, according to NREL, is that the Philippines has 76,600 MW of potential capacity.

These numbers only reflect capacity for large wind systems, the NREL added.

Angara said that wind power technology is a mature technology, and installed capacity for wind systems is growing worldwide at about 30 percent annually.

With the analysis of NREL and availability of technology and suppliers, the Philippines could become a regional leader in wind energy production, he pointed out.

The Philippines has only one operational large scale wind farm in Bangui Bay, Ilocos, which generates 33MW.

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.

The COMSTE report stated that 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.

The Department of Energy (DoE) said China offered last October 2010 conduct a wind assessment and to provide the country with an updated wind map.

The new wind study would use new technology to determine more accurately the wind potential of specific locations in the country.