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page 3 : Wind power in Southeast Asia
          10/2002 - issue 2
               page 3 : Wind power in Southeast Asia

Wind Power in Southeast Asia

by M. I. Cabrera and T. Lefevre
Centre for Energy Environment Resources Development, Bangkok, Thailand



In Southeast Asia (SEA), the development of wind for power generation has been very slow due to technical and financial considerations. With the technological advances made in Europe and the USA, coupled with the expressed policies of SEA governments to accelerate the development of indigenous energy resources for energy security as well as sustainable development, interest has further increased on wind power development particularly in the countries with promising wind regimes. A number of large- and small-scale wind power projects are in the pipeline, and in the long-term, wind is expected to contribute to the region�s electrification program, particularly in the rural areas.


Wind resources in Southeast Asia

Selected areas in the region have good wind energy potential. Based on a World Bank-AAEP study, there are good to excellent wind resource areas for large-scale wind generation that can be found in the mountains of central and southern Vietnam, central Laos, and central and western Thailand, as well as a few other locations (Figure 1). Furthermore, coastal areas of southern and south-central Vietnam show exceptional promise for wind energy both because of strong winds and their proximity to population centers. On a land area basis, around 28,000 sq km of Vietnam (8.6% of the total land area) experience good to excellent winds, while the corresponding figures for Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand are 345 sq km (0.2%), 6776 sq. km (2.9%), and 761 sq km (0.2%), respectively (Table 2.1).

Opportunities for village wind power are considerably more widespread because small wind turbines are able to operate satisfactorily at lower wind speeds. Areas of good to excellent wind resource for village power are predicted in east-central Thailand, western and southern Cambodia, the northern and coastal southern Malay Peninsula, south-central Laos, and a large proportion of central and southern Vietnam as well as coastal areas of northern Vietnam. The study estimates that about a quarter of the rural population of the four southeast Asian countries live in areas showing good to excellent promise for small-scale wind energy.

A similar study has been in the Philippines by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy. Based on the wind resource analysis and mapping study, the wind resource in the Philippines is best in the north and northeast and lower in the south and southwest of the archipelago. The wind mapping results show many areas of good-to-excellent wind resource for utility-scale applications or excellent wind resource for village power applications, particularly in the northern and central regions of the Philippines. Over 10,000 sq km of windy land areas have been estimated to exist with good-to-excellent wind resource potential. Using conservative assumptions of about 7 MW per sq km, this windy land could support over 70,000 MW of potential installed capacity. Considering only these areas of good-to-excellent wind resource, there are 47 provinces in the Philippines with at least 500 MW of wind potential and 25 provinces with at least 1,000 MW of wind potential. However, additional studies are required to more accurately assess the wind electric potential, considering factors such as the existing transmission grid and accessibility.


Table 2.1. Wind Energy Potential in Selected Southeast Asian Countries



Figure 2.1a. Wind Resources in Southeast Asia at 65 m

Figure 2.1b. Wind Resources in Southeast Asia at 30 m


Status of wind power in Southeast Asia

Wind power use in the region is limited to stand-alone electricity production in rural and remote areas. In Central Java, indonesia, 49 kW have been installed while Yogyakarta has 42 kW. Around 27 wind generators have been installed in the country, with capacities varying from 0.1 kW to 15 kW. Two systems were developed as hybrid pilot projects. So far, no grid-connected medium or large-scale applications have been realized in Indonesia.

Figure 2.2. One of the systems installed by Winrock in Indonesia

Some of the wind turbines in the Philippines include a 10-kW stand-alone system in the Northern Philippines serving 25 households. Another 25-kW stand-alone system in Batangas Province has 6 different loads with different priorities depending on the amount of power produced and is without a battery storage. A 3-kW stand-alone system was put up by a local telecommunication company (PT&T) as a power supply for its relay station in tandem with a diesel generator. There are only two known suppliers of small wind electric systems (a few hundred watts). For larger units direct contact with foreign manufacturers is being done by interested users.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand installed six small horizontal axis wind turbine generators (WTG) for experimentation in Phuket Island. An 18.5-kW WTG is directly connected to the local grid while the three smaller ones were modified for charging 240 V battery along with a WTG-PV hybrid system. A 150-kW capacity has been installed at Phuket, and grid connected.

In Vietnam, around ten thousand 200-W battery charging wind turbines have been installed for household use, mainly in the central and southern regions. In addition a number of 150-W battery charging wind turbines have been installed at households in coastal areas of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong.

At present, the Philippines is the most active in the region in wind power development, with two major projects in the pipeline. The Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) is developing a wind farm in the villages of Saoit and Pagali in nearby Burgos town. The project consists of building a 40-MW capacity wind farm facilities and laying down 42-km transmission lines to link them up with the main transmission lines in northern Luzon Island (Ilocos Norte Province). The wind power facilities component involves detailed design, procurement and installation of equipment and materials, civil works and electrical work. The transmission lines and substations component involves procurement and installation of equipment and materials, civil works and electrical work. In addition, consulting services will review detailed design and the monitoring and supervision of project implementation. PNOC�s partners in this project is the Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Early next year, the Metro Manila-based Northwind Power Development Corp. (NWPDC) will start setting up a wind power plant at the windswept town of Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The wind farm will begin its commercial operation by 2004. The Bangui Bay wind farm will use 30 units, 60-meter high Vestas wind turbines, and arranged in a single row stretching on about a 3-km shoreline facing the South China Sea. The wind at Bangui coast is blowing at a speed of 7 m/s. The wind plant will synchronize operations with the National Power Corp. grid to complement Napocor�s power supply to the local electric utility. On July 19, the NWPDC sealed the 25.5-MW wind power project-sale agreement with the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC). The plant can produce up to 60-MW power if the remaining two phases are completed. The NWPDC will operate and maintain the wind power plant and deliver at least 52,560-MWhr (equivalent to 7 MW) to INEC every year for 20 years. The additional wind energy is about a third of the province�s total power requirement of 26 MW. Based on the energy sales agreement, INEC will buy power from the NWPDC at 7% lower than the prevailing Napocor rates. The power cooperative, however, will continue buying its remaining energy demand from Napocor.


Barriers to the development and commercialization of wind power in Southeast Asia

The major reasons why the commercialization of wind power in SEA has not accelerated compared to other regions include: lack of wind data in specific sites, high initial costs, lack of access to financing, low public awareness, lack of working unit, no local manufacturers and distributors, no clear financial and fiscal incentives and generally a low level of technology awareness.

Wind resource data are needed for the reliable estimation of the development of wind power in a country. Such data are needed to enable governments, multilateral development banks, private developers, and others to determine the priority that should be given to wind energy and to identify windy areas that might be suitable for development. The lack of useful data is especially critical in Southeast Asia, which has not yet experienced widespread wind development. Southeast Asia has not been the subject of extensive wind resource studies in the past, but some studies have been conducted for the Philippines, Thailand, the coastal areas of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Wind data collection takes time and money to accomplish. Although wind resources atlases have been produced for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines that can be used for identifying potential wind development areas, there is a lack of high-quality surface data to compare with the maps. As such, there is still a need to conduct measurement programs meeting rigorous wind-industry standards in order to verify the results and confirm the wind resource at promising locations.

The installed demonstration projects were also very expensive. But with modern wind systems becoming cheaper, there is again a resurgence of interest among government and private investors in the region.

There is also a low level of awareness among the public about the usefulness of the technology due in part to the lack of working units. And if there are, some are not working due to technical problems giving the technology a bad image. These problems include faulty designs, inappropriate system components, poor spare part supply, etc. Furthermore, there is insufficient expertise and technical know-how to design, operate and maintain such systems.

SEA governments also give more priority to the development of conventional energy sources, thus there is limited funding and incentives for renewable energy development.

Some SEA countries have policies that support the development of renewable energies like wind power. Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources said that small power generators using renewable resources soon will be guaranteed a buyer in the state utility. The decree will force state utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to buy whatever electricity is on sale from plants of 1 MW or less using geothermal, hydro, biomass, wind and solar sources to generate power. The Philippines has a long-term program for the development of renewables including wind power. An executive order was enacted providing for the participation of private sector in the exploration, development, utilization and commercialization of ocean, solar and wind (OSW) energy resources for power generation. Meanwhile, Thailand supports the development of renewable energy, but there is no specific financing scheme to develop wind energy.


Prospects of wind power in Southeast Asia

The wind energy resource studies done in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines show significant opportunities for both large-scale wind energy installations and small-scale village power. Many of these opportunities were previously unsuspected.

Wind power generation can contribute to the region�s electrification programs particularly in the rural areas, where access to electricity is still low. Villages located in very good or excellent wind areas can benefit from wind power systems. These areas can be found in Vietnam and the Philippines. About a third of the rural population of Vietnam and a sixth of that of Laos live in areas with a good wind resource for small wind turbines, whereas only 5% and 9% of the rural populations of Cambodia and Thailand do. These estimates do not consider the possibility that windier areas may be found outside of towns but still within a distance that could make them suitable for village power generation.

Given the data now available, with the help of investors, lenders, and developers, governments in these countries can now focus on developing wind for power generation.


Wind Energy Resource Atlas of Southeast Asia, Prepared for The World Bank, Asia Alternative Energy Program by the TrueWind Solutions, LLC, New York, USA, (September 2001) available online at; D. Elliott, M. Schwartz, R. George, S. Haymes, D. Heimiller, G. Scott, Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the Philippines, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA, February 2001; Philippine Daily Inquirer (31 July 2002)


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