Friday, November 21, 2014

Largest wind farm in Southeast Asia begins operation

Fully charged. The 150-MW Burgos Wind Power Project, with at least 50 towering 80-meter wind turbines distributed across a sprawling 600-hectare forestland in Burgos, Ilocos Norte is now connected to the grid and is delivering wind power directly to the Wholesale Energy Spot Market (WESM) before it is plowed to power consumers across the country through distribution utilities. (Lei Adriano)

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Burgos, Ilocos Norte—Strong and steady winds continue to create a milestone in the country’s power generation as it hopes to blow away oil and gas-powered plants in the near future.

Proving that clean and reliable energy supply is possible, the 150-megawatt Burgos wind project, the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia with 50 wind turbines situated in a sprawling 600-hectare forestland in Burgos just along the national highway has started to deliver at least 9 gigawatts (GW) of electricity worth approximately P40 million since its commissioning on October 31.

“The operation is doing well. We were able to meet the hurdles set by the Department of Energy that all 50 wind turbines have been commissioned properly. We also have connection to NGCP [National Grid Corporation of the Philippines]. As of today, we have delivered 9GW,” said Richard Tantoco, Energy Development Corporation president and chief operating officer in an interview with The Ilocos Times at the Burgos wind project site on Nov. 10.

Now fully operational, the Lopez-led EDC is the first eligible company to avail of feed-in tariff (FIT) granted by the government, which guarantees EDC a cost-based compensation or payment of P8.53 fixed rate per kilowatt hour which is cheaper than imported oil and gas as energy source.

“The objective of wind power is not really to displace coal but to displace oil and bunker which runs an average of P10 up to P27/kWh in the Philippines,” Mr. Tantoco said.

During the peak months of wind season from October to April, EDC said it can deliver up to a maximum of 80 percent to the grid or about 30-40-MW during the low season.

“The Burgos wind project when it runs full on a good year, we can generate about P3 billion revenue, of course we have to remove our costs payments to the banks. On a bad year, it will generate about P2.5 billion in a year,” he added.

Following the installation of an initial 87-MW wind farm since its groundbreaking on April 2013, the phase two of the project followed suit with an additional P63 MW.

In support of the national government’s priority agenda to provide clean, affordable and renewable energy to Filipinos under the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) also known as the “Green Energy Roadmap of the Philippines, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte  leads the way in hosting various renewable energy projects, thus increasing more investors’ confidence to expand their business here.

After the successful commissioning of the project, the EDC is set to diversify its investment through its first solar plant which is suited for Ilocos Norte’s microclimate condition.

As of press time, EDC has started to construct its 4.2-MW solar power plant—a P400 million investment, and which is expected to be completed by March 2015, also in Burgos town.

Taking advantage of the government’s call to invest more on indigenous power sources, EDC is set to build another 200-300 MW renewable energy source in Ilocos Norte or a total of 700 MW nationwide in the next three years.

So far, EDC has 14 existing projects, 10 of which are now with service contracts.

It may be recalled that EDC has invested US$450 million in the project and recently closed a US$315 million financing deal with the support of EKF, Denmark’s export credit agency, and a group of leading international and local banks.

During the project briefing held at the conference room of the Burgos wind plant on Nov., 1o, Rep. Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro, 2nd district) who is also the current chairperson of the House of Representatives’ committee on energy said: “Anything indigenous is better. Renewable energy is the way to go. You are on right track,” citing the EDC management’s right mix of energy.

“This is a worthwhile experience kasi nakikita ko lang ‘to sa Europe in Germany, Netherlands, Amsterdam but now it’s happening in the Philippines. This is really something that we should have done a long time ago,” Mr. Umali said as he expressed hopes the development of more renewable energy sources would alleviate the looming power crisis in 2015.

“With this, it raises my level of comfort that we will not have any brownouts next year,” he said.

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