Philippines to offer more sites

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With its first wind farm now up and running, the Philippines is getting serious about wind energy, announcing plans to offer 18 more sites for development. Earlier this year, 16 sites were made available. Three companies have gained contracts to develop "pre-commercial" wind plant at five of the sites in Luzon and Visayas, while successful bidders for the 11 other sites are still to be announced.

The three companies will develop a combined total of 85 MW. Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems will develop 30 MW across three projects in the provinces of Marinduque, Masbate, and Romblon. Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corporation will build a 30 MW wind station in the province of Pangasinan, while a 25 MW plant to be developed by San Carlos Wind Power Corporation will be located in the province of Negros Occidental.

The country's energy secretary Raphael Lotilla says the call for bids to develop the latest 18 sites will be made by the end of the year. Ten of the sites are in Luzon, seven in the Visayas, and one in Mindanao, he adds.

Meanwhile, the country's first wind farm has been inaugurated. Developed by NorthWind Power Development Corporation, a 60:40 venture between Filipino and Danish investors, the 24.75 MW project at Bangui Bay in the northern province of Ilocos Norte uses 15 Vestas 1.65 MW turbines. Another five of the Vestas machines, totalling 8.25 MW, are also due to be installed and are expected to be operational around October 2006.

NorthWind's Niels Jacobsen says the $50 million project is only feasible because the Danish International Development Agency agreed to co-finance the project, providing $29.35 million in a soft loan backed by a guarantee from the Philippine Export-Import Credit Agency. A further $10.5 million has come from grants, while the remaining balance has been put in by NorthWind shareholders.

All of the wind turbines are connected to the Luzon grid, with the electricity sold on a 20 year contract to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative for $0.10/kWh. This is 7% below electricity prices charged by the National Power Corporation.

NorthWind is registered as a Board of Investment company. As such it qualifies for a seven year tax holiday and reduced import duty on equipment. In addition to the Bangui Bay project, it hopes to develop a 25-35 MW wind farm in Cagayan Valley in the east of the Philippines. If the project goes ahead, the electricity will be sold to the Cagayan Electric Cooperative.

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