“Blowin’ in the wind”

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


SUN.STAR Cebu’s editorial Thursday is titled: “Wind as source of snergy.” It comments on the presentation, to Gov. Hilario Davide III, of plans to “construct windmills in Balamban, Cebu and Toledo.”

Amihan Energy Corp. with Mudajaya Berhad of Malaysia and Dongturbo Electric of China will build the wind farm. Operational this December, Phase One can generate 62 megawatts (MW). Target is 200 MW.

Study it further, this editorial advised. How efficient would the windmills constructed be? Cost is another matter. So is land use.

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We hit the recall button. Here are excerpts of what we wrote starting 15 years back. The comments appeared also in Cebu Daily News:
March 1988: Emer-ging power shortages hobble economic growth. Are options offered by a just released US National Renewable Energy Laboratory report on wind energy worth exploring?

Among other things, it found “promising wind corridors cut through Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Aklan and Surigao.” Local leaders didn’t even know of the study.

In contrast, Ilocos Norte carefully pored the report and completed plans for Southeast Asia’s biggest commercial wind farm. It secured a ¥5,857-billion loan from Tokyo’s Japanese fourth special scheme.

The North Luzon wind farm will usher in state-of-the art power technology. Economic spin-offs will stem, not from costly fossil fuel imports from a volatile Middle East. They’d be sourced from renewable and locally-available power.

December 2001: “Cebu could have been in the forefront if officials here acted decisively on the information.” Titled: “Wind Sirs, Not Hot Air”, that commentary added: “The first wind turbines are going up in Ilocos Norte because officials there had vision.” This loan bankrolled a three-phase 120-MW Northern Luzon wind power project, now rising in Bangui, Ilocos.

January 2008: “Phase II of the wind farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte was completed. The turbines, facing the South China Sea, brought the total capacity to 33 MW. The other operating wind power system is in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Occidental.

“It’s one thing for Ilocos Norte to beat Cebu in launching a state-of-the-art wind farm,” we wrote after Tokyo approved the loan. “It’s another for Cebu’s smug officials not even to know we’ve been trashed.”

January 2013: A wind farm, with 22 turbines, which can generate 81 MW of electricity, will soon rise in the village of Caparispisan in Ilocos Norte. It will be bankrolled by Luzon UPC Asia Corp., AC Energy of Ayala Corp. and the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure, a fund that is partly financed by the Asian Development Bank.

See the Cebu proposal in the global context. Worldwide, wind farms, even in 2000, were already generating six times as much electricity as they did in the 1990s. “Spurred by falling costs, new technology, concern about climate change and new government policies wind is fastest growing energy sources in the world...” Vital Signs pointed out.

That upward trend has continued. Worldwatch Institute’s latest report says total installed wind capacity registered a 19-percent increase from 2011. The big players were the US and China.

But the European Union remained a dominant region for wind power. It now accounts for 37.5 percent of the world’s market. Germany and Spain are the pace setters. The United Kingdom was third followed by Italy.

Wind farms tap into cutting-edge technology for a energy source that is renewable, non-polluting and available locally. “The answer is blowin’ in the wind,” the old pop song goes.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 19, 2014.

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