Charting a new course: the Philippines explores vast offshore wind energy potential at NIRAS Wind Energy Forum

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The Wind Energy Forum proved to be a fruitful event where participants came away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of developing the offshore wind industry in the Philippines.

The offshore wind industry is a rising star in the Southeast Asian nation, requiring collaboration from a wide variety of sectors to find success

October 25, 2023

The challenge is to look at that 20% [current share in renewable energy]—and be disgusted by it. Because we can do more. We want to increase that number to 50% by 2040.

Monalisa Dimalanta, Chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission

Winds of change are coming for the energy sector in the Philippines—offshore wind, that is. Discussions about this clean renewable resource have been underway at NIRAS Manila’s recent “Wind Energy Forum: Offshore Wind in the Philippines”, where government representatives and private industry partners alike participated to discuss the possibilities and challenges of offshore wind development in the country.

The World Bank Group recently released a roadmap for offshore wind development, which shows the country has the potential to generate up to 21 gigawatts (GW) of power through offshore wind by 2040. This would make up about 21% of the total energy supply and contribute massively to the Philippine government’s goal of achieving 50% reliance on renewable energy by that same year. Of the country’s current energy mix, roughly 20% comes from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, geothermal and onshore wind.

The Philippines already has some experience with wind energy from onshore wind farms, which have been in operation in various parts of the 7,641-island nation since 2005. But offshore wind is a completely new industry, with the first application for service contracts in the sector happening in December 2019.

At present, there are 79 applications for offshore wind farm projects awaiting the permitting and consenting process before they are greenlit. Most of these projects are currently still at the development stage, including such tasks as preliminary wind data gathering and system impact studies. It is likely the first offshore wind farms in the country may be in operation after five to seven years.

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Monalisa Dimalanta, Chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission, talks about grid infrastructure updates during her speech.

Offshore wind development: A multi-sector collaboration

Given the industry’s emerging state, this forum is a welcome step towards accelerating its development. The forum, which NIRAS Manila organised in partnership with the Nordic Chamber of the Philippines, aimed to push the conversation around offshore wind development forward through sharing different perspectives from various stakeholders, as well as establishing connections among them that will serve as the foundation for future efforts.

The speakers talked about a broad range of topics, including:

  • The readiness of government institutions in terms of policy and operational frameworks;
  • The role of the private sector;
  • Outlooks for financing and logistics;
  • Manpower and upskilling for the industry;
  • Environmental impacts of construction; and
  • The development of supporting infrastructure such as the ports and the power grid.

Each sector has its part to play, with its own needs and challenges. The forum makes it abundantly clear that cross-sector collaboration is key to building up the offshore wind industry in the country and ensuring its long-term success.

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A panel discussion among offshore wind developers takes place. The forum aimed to push forward the conversation around offshore wind development in the Philippines.

NIRAS brings its expertise to the fore

For this forum, NIRAS brought in a number of its own experts to talk about various issues across the offshore wind development cycle.

Raoul Kubitscheck from NIRAS Taiwan delved into the offshore wind project development cycle and the next steps different sectors need to take over the following months in order for offshore wind projects to move forward. The Taiwan office is the Asia-Pacific regional hub focusing on offshore wind.

Also from the Taiwan office, Eric Gan discussed the environmental impacts of offshore wind development, particularly during construction and operation. In his talk, he presented a case study from Taiwan, which showed the impact of construction on birds and marine animals and the mitigation measures that were done to ensure the least disturbance to the ecosystem.

Thor Ugelvig Petersen, NIRAS’s Vice President for our offshore wind division, came all the way from Denmark to discuss infrastructure and technical needs for the industry. Elaborating further on infrastructure, John Stasig Moerk, NIRAS’s Regional Director for engineering in the Asia-Pacific talked about the importance of ports for offshore wind development. Currently, the Philippines has no ports capable of servicing offshore wind needs, so it is crucial that port development is given priority in order for the industry to take off.

Flying towards success in offshore wind

All in all, it was a fruitful day of networking and information exchange, and participants came away with a deeper appreciation of the immensity and complexity of the task ahead in developing the offshore wind industry in the Philippines.

“This forum has been a remarkable journey of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and inspiration, and I believe we have taken significant steps towards a sustainable offshore wind energy future in the Philippines,” says Joyce Anne Asilo, business development manager for NIRAS during her closing remarks. “Let's stay connected, exchange ideas, and work together to turn our vision into a reality.”

Raoul Kubitschek

Raoul Kubitschek

Managing Director

Taipei, Taiwan

Nicholas Peter Corne

Nicholas Peter Corne

Regional Director for Environment (APAC)

Taipei, Taiwan