Wind Energy in the Philippines?
Posted by butalidnl on 7 May 2010
We have probably heard about the wind energy park in Ilocos Norte. But there seem to not have been any other project after this. Does this mean that the Ilocos Norte project was not too profitable? or that wind energy in general is not yet “ripe” for the Philippines? I don’t really know. However, there are some interesting developments in wind energy that may bring about a breakthrough in wind energy in the Philippines.
New kinds of wind generator
We are all familiar with the 3-bladed wind turbines that are most common in generating wind energy. Well, there are other kinds of wind energy generators which are just now entering the market.
The FloDesign High Energy Wind Turbine is a new product developed in the US that holds the prospect of cheaper wind energy with better environmental effects. A much smaller rotor would produce as much as the present giant ones, making it lower on the ground, allowing it to fit into smaller spaces, and making it possible to have more of them – spaced nearer to each other. It is also more “bird friendly” and is not an eyesore.
There are also new products on the mini wind power level; that is, wind power produced from a home, office or factory. These could be installed anywhere, and it does not obstruct solar panels too much, so you can use them together. It is actually cheaper than solar panels, but potentially does not produce as much electricity.
When these products become available in the Philippines, the whole cost-power ratio for wind energy will need to be reevaluated, and we would need to see if and where they could be deployed. As wind energy products get cheaper and smaller, the easier they will be to deploy, and the lower the amount of wind needed to make them profitable.
Wind Energy Bonds
In the Netherlands, they are now setting up relatively small wind farms which are financed by Wind Energy Bonds. Simply put, the electric utility sells bonds at Euro 1000 apiece, and gives an 8% interest on these bonds. This is quite high for the Netherlands, and these bonds mature in 10 or 20 years. The bonds are typically oversubscribed, and the electric utility has had to prioritize local residents for buying these bonds, so far.
What these bonds show is that there is a potentially large source of financing for small wind farms, coming from local citizens. It frees the utility from having to have to obtain financing from big banks or from abroad. And it involves the local community, and small investors from all over, in the setting up of wind farms.
If, after conducting the necessary study re wind levels, etc, a local cooperative decides to generate wind energy; they can simply sell bonds to their members or the general public to finance the project. There will be no more need for foreign investors to fund these kinds of projects.
Linking with the Grid
There has been a lot of talk that wind energy is unreliable because it is intermittent, and that this will cause problems for the grid. And that there will still have to be coal or other such plants for the “base” electricity. Well, there is enough experience in the Netherlands (and elsewhere, I suppose) which shows that wind energy (on a 24-hour period basis) is quite a stable source of electricity; and that the inter-connection with the grid does not result in overloading it or underutilizing power plants of non-renewable energy. In other words, the energy from wind is reliable, and quite green.
The bigger the grid, the better it would be in a position (in terms of efficiency) to use electricity that has been generated from wind. Especially if we take also the use of solar power, and even Electric Vehicles into the picture, the overall grid will not have unwanted peaks nor shortages in supply.
So, with this experience, it should be possible to build and utilize all kinds of wind energy without too much worrying too much about base load and unreliability. This has been one of the reasons why electric utilities have been reluctant to use wind energy till now. Their apprehensions are based on what is essentially a myth.