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New market ready and waiting

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Wind is one of four non-conventional technologies classified for immediate development in the Philippines by the national Department of Energy. Potential is good in the extreme north and west of the country despite summer typhoons -- and after monitoring at six sites, more than 72 MW of potential has been pin-pointed.

This was the conclusion of a paper presented at the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference by Eloida Balamiento, Chief of the Non-Conventional Energy Division, Department of Energy (NCED-DOE) in the Philippines. The division has been scrutinising non-conventional energy for ten years, although use of renewables technology has not accelerated as fast as had been hoped.

NCED-DOE says non-conventional energy is thought to be especially viable in rural, remote areas. The Philippines is 68% dependent upon imported oil, and currently gets some 11.5% of its energy from non-conventional sources, particularly bagasse (sugar beet refuse) and agri-waste. "Wind energy is strongly being considered by government and several utilities as a technology for 2000," Balamiento told the American Windpower '94 conference in May. Sites are available with wind speeds of 5-6 m/s. The main barriers to wind development in the Philippines are that it is site-specific and that there are no working models in the country. The other priority technologies are solar, biomass and micro-hydro.

So far in the Philippines only pilot scale, utility-connected wind projects have been installed, which have not been particularly successful. Equipment breakdowns have been common, although some 200 small wind generators for water-pumping and irrigation do operate in the country. Because of acute power shortages in the archipelago, wind and other non-conventionals are still being pursued and the development of non-conventional energy sources is now being accelerated by the government.

Under a $27 million Renewable Energy Power Programme (REPP), hydro and biomass, and later solar and wind, will be established at up to 25 MW in installed capacity. The money was sourced from government financial institutions. Additional funding is being sought from the US Agency for International Development. A goal of 50 MW is anticipated by the end of 1996, with the National Power Corp (NPC), a government-owned utility, and the National Electrification Administration providing technical and marketing support and guaranteeing to purchase power if necessary.

A non-conventional energy government bill is currently being drafted, too, to give tax and customs breaks to suppliers, dealers and users of, for example, wind. Privileges will include: exemption from customs tariffs, duties and value-added tax for imported non-conventional equipment or components, or for machinery to manufacture or refurbish non-conventional equipment; depreciation of fixed assets to the extent of not more than twice as fast as the normal rate of depreciation, if the expected life is ten years or less; exemption from all taxes, except income tax, for local manufacturers of only non-conventional equipment.

Based on a previous opportunity study, the Philippines Department of Energy has also submitted a proposal to the United Nations Development Programme for a Wind Energy Feasibility Support Programme. The programme would accelerate development of wind as part of the Philippine Power Development Programme. If funded, the programme would undertake monitoring at four to eight sites over 12 months; provide on-the-job training for analysts and technicians; evaluate the feasibility for stand alone machines and larger wind plants; develop guidelines and appraisal criteria for a wind programme; and build DOE's institutional capacity to identify, appraise and support wind energy projects and the undertaking of joint ventures between overseas turbine manufacturers and Philippine partners.

At present, NCED-DOE is exploring possibilities of a wind energy project with Mountain Province Electric Co-operative. There is also strong interest from other utilities to look into wind as a possibility, said Balamiento. And the NPC has plans to set up a 10 kW pilot project on Romblon Island with the Department of Science and Technology.

At least one year of additional testing at the six identified sites will be undertaken. Then NPC will undertake project feasibility studies for the possibility of developing build-operate-transfer proposals to develop these sites. A demand potential of 50 MW has been established at Burgos, a potential of 20 MW at Guimaras, 2 MW at Romblon, and smaller amounts at Catanduanes, Cuyo and Basco.

The other wind energy activities being planned for 1994 are being undertaken by the Renewable Energy Support Office of the Philippines (RESPO), a network which is being established overseas in ten countries. In addition, a workshop on wind energy development will be held sometime in mid-to-late 1994. A nationwide wind resource assessment study is also being planned. And an international conference/workshop on small wind energy conversion system technology will also be held in Iloio City on November 14-18 of this year, partly organised by NCED-DOE.

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