Philippines finally approves projects under delayed FiT

The Philippines’ Department of Energy has finally given the go ahead for three proposed wind farms, with a generating capacity totaling 208.5-MW, as the country looks to escalate the development of its wind power potential, estimated to be 76-GW. These approvals are the first to be given under the country’s feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme for renewable energy.

While there has been plenty of interest from local and international investors in the Philippines wind sector since the passing of the country’s Renewable Energy Law in 2008, regulatory developments have been slow. The FiT scheme only agreed in July last year, since when hundreds of renewable energy project proposals have been submitted for FiT allocation but are still pending approval, according to reports.

The three projects given approval are: Energy Development Corp’s USD300 million 87-MW wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte Province; Alternergy Wind One Corp’s 67.5-MW project in Pililla, Rizal Province; and Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corp’s PHP6.3 billion (USD153 million) 54-MW development on Guimaras Island. They are due to be in operation by 2015 and will be guaranteed under the FiT scheme to receive PHP8.53 (20 US cents) per kilowatt hour they generate under 20-year contracts.

It is notable that all three project are bigger than the Philippines’ largest operating wind farm, a 33-MW installation in Ilocos Norte, and also outsize the 48-MW project currently being developed near Puerto Galera, in Oriental Mindoro. Still larger wind projects have been proposed, with Italian firm Brulli Energia looking into the feasibility of building a 200-MW wind farm in Oriental Mindoro.

Under the renewable energy act the Philippines set a goal of having half its energy demands met by renewables by 2030. Today, around 39 per cent of the Philippines’ energy demands are met by renewable energy according to the Department of Energy (DoE), primarily from geothermal and hydropower plants.

According to DoE director Mario Marasigan the government is projecting renewable energy generating capacity to reach 10-GW by 2030. The additional generating capacity is much needed since brown-outs are a long-standing feature of life in the Philippines with businesses forced to invest in back-up diesel generation facilities.

Other things being equal, the currently under-developed wind sector should have a big role to play in this planned expansion. A study made by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the country’s wind potential could provide up to 76-GW of power, with 47 provinces of 73 in the Philippines having at least 500-MW wind potential and another 25 provinces at least 1-GW.

Another study conducted by WWF shows that 1,038 wind sites in the country could generate about 7.4GW of electricity. Almost 5GW of these sites were in Luzon, the Philippines largest island, while 2.1GW were in the Visayas region.

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