The Bangui Windmills
I was dumbfounded when I saw the Bangui windmills for at least two good reasons. First, I appreciated the engineering behind each 41-meter blade. I could only imagine the complexity involved and the simulation hours spent in its design: choosing the best lightweight alloy available, studying the wind patterns in the area and then combining every other data in an aerodynamic form that could withstand the test of time.
Second, I was amazed at the thought that this windmill farm is the first of its kind in the Philippines and in South East Asia. While there were rotating brownouts everywhere else in the country during the first of half of this year, I assume that the twenty windmills have steadily supplied enough energy to the whole of Ilocos Norte.
The investment poured by the Northwind Development Corporation in erecting every windmill is huge compared to the cost in carving the cutesy wooden miniatures above. Phase I of the Northwind Bay Project started in 2005 with just 15 windmills. These produced a maximum output of 24.75 MW of clean energy and cost a total of $23M.
For Phase II, 5 more Vestas V82 wind turbines were added in August 2008 which brought the total capacity to 33.00 MW. This expansion alone fetched $13M back then. But the project also returned significant savings for the people of Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) consumers. This may have also sparked enough interest to consider other local sites as potential windmill farms in the future.
I could not get a good vertical photo of a single windmill as each is 70 meters high or roughly equivalent of a 23 storey building. You must have a good camera with the appropriate wide angle lens. I settled for semi-artistic attempts such as the one below. You would also notice a rectangular casing opposite the blades. This is called nacelle and it houses the generator, gear box and a yaw mechanism. The latter will turn the blades towards the direction of the wind.
The windmills are also spaced 236 meters from apart from each other. They cover 9 km of a beach strip in Barangay Baruyen in Bangui in Ilocos Norte. No wonder why these graceful giants are visible even from the national highway.
One could also have a good vantage point of all the windmills from the beach resorts in Pagudpud.
The windmills in the laidback town of Bangui have indeed put the Philippines in the renewable energy map. It has attracted not only the strong drafts from the South China Sea but also troves of tourists who want to see a majestic wind farm that could only be found in this side of the country.