Offshore wind farming pitched to boost power supply
MANILA -The Philippines needs to tap into its vast wind energy resources to boost power supply and meet demand, which is expected to reach as high as 25 gigawatts (GW) in five years, and ultimately catch up with its more developed neighbors, according to offshore wind developer BlueFloat Energy.
BlueFloat Philippines country manager Raymund Pascual explained that offshore wind remained the most stable renewable energy source despite its variability due to the country’s archipelagic nature.
“The farther you do in the middle of the sea and the higher your turbines are, the more consistent is the wind. The variability [of wind power] is being addressed because of the consistency of wind, unlike solar that’s dependent on [weather],” Pascual told the Inquirer in a recent interview.
BlueFloat made its debut in the Philippines in June this year by announcing that it aimed to develop offshore wind farms in northern Luzon, Central Luzon, south Luzon and Southern Mindoro, with a potential capacity of 7.6 GW, making the country its biggest market.
According to Pascual, however, the Philippines is still far behind its neighbors, such as Thailand, in terms of power generating capacity.
Data from the US International Trade Administration show that Thailand’s total installed power generating capacity stood at 49 GW last year, while the Philippines’ was only at 23 GW.
In order to catch up, BlueFloat senior development advisor Jarek Pole pointed out that the country needed to ramp up its development of renewable energy technologies, particularly offshore wind farms that were not strained by limited land availability.
“We can deploy [offshore wind farms] next to big cities, which is not possible with solar and onshore wind because of land constraints,” he said.
Both Pole and Pascual also emphasized that boosting the country’s energy sector would yield a “trickle-down” effect because of its vital role in infrastructure development, thereby improving the Philippine economy.
“The Philippines is sitting on highly valuable resource and very few people know that … Now it’s time to tap into that resource, and that resource will provide you with electricity that you will need so much to grow your economy,” Pole said.
Pascual added, “Because of the wide breadth and depth of the ecosystem we’re building, the offshore wind industry is one that will [be] a major catalyst in the Philippines … and have a trickle-down effect on economy, generating quality jobs.”
In 2022, the World Bank group issued a road map showing that the Philippines had the potential to develop 21 GW of offshore wind by 2040 in line with its goal to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix.
But data from the Department of Energy (DOE) show that as of June 2023, the Philippines only had 427 megawatts (MW) of installed wind energy capacity.
This falls behind other renewable energy technologies such as hydropower at 3,770 MW, geothermal at 1,592 MW and solar at 1,531 MW.
Despite this and the fact that offshore wind farms usually took years to develop, Pascual remained optimistic due to growing investor interest in this technology.
In the first quarter alone, the Board of Investments said it had approved offshore wind projects worth P390 billion in total.
Earlier this year, the DOE also inked three service contracts with a Danish firm for $5 billion worth of offshore wind projects in the country.
The agency has so far awarded at least 57 offshore wind contracts with a total potential capacity of around 42 GW.
BlueFloat currently has around 33 GW in potential capacity from its businesses in Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States.
The company first explored offshore wind development in the Philippines in 2021, and secured four wind energy service contracts from the DOE after a “comprehensive site assessment exercise.”
Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla earlier said that the country would need an additional 8 GW of capacity to meet the projected 25-GW peak demand in 2028. Forty-three percent of this total will be sourced from renewable energy technologies, he added. INQ