Wind-power project in Sorsogon still looking for foreign funding

THE wind-power project proposed for setup in Sorsogon will resume as soon as Coastal Power Development Corp. (CPDC) combines with another group to set up a wind facility in the province, CPDC Managing Director Manuel T. Castro said in an interview with the BusinessMirror.

The company’s Japanese partner renounced the wind power prospect along the seaboard of Prieto Diaz town after the Fukushima accident in 2011 forced the Japanese company to join the national effort to revive power in Japan, Castro told the BusinessMirror.

“The coastal wind in Prieto Diaz was studied with a 60-meter high tower,” he said. “That is equivalent to a 35-floor high-rise building. We will increase it to 80 meters high to get the commercial wind at 6 meters per second and above.”

With a 60-meter high wind tower, the wind along the coastline of Prieto Diaz is gathered at the rate below six meters per second, Castro said. Such wind power is for noncommercial use.

The exploration for wind potential in Prieto Diaz costs about $1 million with one tower to analyze wind activities in the area, he said. The probe for commercial wind may take a maximum of two years. Every 10 seconds, air current from all directions is monitored and evaluated.

Original article is published at Business Mirror on July 8, 2013.

Wind study is a very detailed stage of a coastal power project, Castro said. It can be whipped by about 10 tropical storms before winding up.

The sheer wind speed does not promise the massive turbines will spin, he said. Wind temperature is more important. It provides airstream with solid pressure to rotate the 57-meter long turbine blades, bigger than the wings of a Boeing 747 aircraft.

The wind study for the 24.75-megawatt (MW) Bangui wind farm in Ilocos Norte was financed by foreign aid during the time of Marcos, he said. The facility was built with Danish interest in 2005.

“It does not mean the wind that sells is found only in the north,” Castro said. “It just happened that during Marcos’s time, wind studies were done in the area.”

As an archipelago, the Philippines has the advantage of geographical setting in terms of wind power source compared to other Asian countries in the mainland.

“We have a very strategic location for wind power,” he said. “We have the best wind among our Asian neighbors.”

However, an excellent wind study does not guarantee Europeans will haul their massive equipment across the seas to set up a wind farm in Sorsogon, Castro said.

“Logistics is the biggest consideration,” he said.

The wind farm equipment will have to be transported in massive parts from Europe and raised them at the farm site in Prieto Diaz, Castro said.

Most of the bridges in the country can sustain 10 to 20 tons of cargo only, he said. The nacelle which holds the power-generating component and placed on top of the wind tower weighs 60 tons. Each tower that will hold one nacelle will stand on a 10,000-cubic meter concrete footing.

“Setting up a wind farm is like a war,” he said. “About 200 trucks will be required in transporting facility equipment and construction materials. Bridges that lead to the construction site will have to be reinforced to sustain weight.”

Dismantling concrete portals at the entry-and exit-points of the towns may be undertaken to send the massive equipment in, Castro said. The wind farm developer may build its own road and dock to transport its huge materiel if necessary.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had seriously worked for the development of wind power in the country, he said. But she failed to bring in any foreign capital.

Wind-power developers in Europe also take into account the volume of wind power that will be generated, Castro said. When they put up a wind facility in China, the Europeans manufactured the equipment locally, except for nacelle.

Since the Philippines is eyeing a relatively small volume of wind power, the Europeans may not think of investing here, he said. The government may increase its target volume to encourage foreign partners to come in, or provide the capital to develop its own wind facilities to pursue a small volume.

A wind farm can generate 200 MW, he said. The whole country is thinking about generating 200 MW.

“The 200 MW may cost about $300 million,” he said. “The government can afford it.”

The capacity of wind farm that will be put up in Prieto Diaz will depend on the target volume of power to be generated, Castro said. With 10 wind turbines, they can initially generate 30 MW, which will cost only about $75 million.

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