Photo by Alva Alvarez
NABAS, Aklan — Change is coming in the once sleepy town of Nabas in this province through the imposing presence of 18 giant wind turbines which are not only breathtaking to look at but also serve as breath of fresh air in the country’s hunt for “green” energy.
But more than just its scenic beauty, the wind turbines are supplying clean and renewable power to the Western Visayas(WV) grid.
The Nabas wind farm situated in Barangay Pawa, about 25 kilometers away from the tourist island of Boracay, is owned by PetroWind Energy Inc. (PWEI). The firm is a joint venture between PetroGreen Energy Corporation, Singapore based CapAsia and EEI Power Corporation.
Along with its scenic beauty, the wind turbines are friends to the environment by supplying clean and renewable power to the Western Visayas(WV) grid.
With an investment of over PHP4 billion, the Nabas wind farm is the biggest single venture in the province, and likewise, the largest renewable and clean energy facility in Panay island.
The 18 turbines are part of the first phase of the project which now supplies 36-megawatt (MW) of clean power to the WV grid. Underway is the additional seven turbines which could generate an added 14 MW to the power grid.
One year after it started operating, Nabas town continues to reap the benefits of being host to this clean energy source.
Nabas Mayor James Solanoy, in an interview on Saturday, said the project has brought economic gains and increased the tourism potential of the town.
Solanoy said the town is earning millions in terms of taxes. Job opportunities were likewise opened for the people of Nabas as the wind turbines continue to attract tourists, especially from Boracay, he added.
Currently, the town is crafting its final tourism plan for the wind farm which could benefit its 35,000 population from its 20 barangays.
But aside from Nabas, the project benefits other Aklan towns as well, including Boracay Island which has a high demand for power for its flourishing tourism industry.
The mayor said most of the power generated from the wind farm that goes to the grid is supplied to Aklan especially Boracay, an island that hosted 1.7 million tourists in 2016.
But more than its economic benefits, Solanoy said renewable sources of power must be pushed for the protection of the environment.
Stressing climate change as one factor, the mayor said: “There is a need for new system and energy sources that could not harm the environment.”
“We now experience the evidence of climate change. We are privileged here in Nabas that our place is in a strategic location that could generate clean power that benefits the people of Aklan and the entire Panay island,” he added.
Compared to other power sources, renewable energy is more sustainable and that the Nabas wind farm has proven it can compete with other sources, Solanoy said.
He stressed that non-renewable source like coal is not sustainable. “In the long run, coal sources will be scarce and is harming the environment,” he stressed.
Optimistic of the promising future for renewable energy, Solanoy urged other local government units in the province to check what is available in their respective areas.
“There are various types of renewable sources – the wind, solar, hydro; check what is available in your town,” he said.
Meanwhile, despite the continued presence of coal plants in the region, renewable energy is seen to thrive here.
Aside from Nabas, another wind farm that supplies clean power to the Visayas grid is the 54 MW San Lorenzo Wind Farm in the island province of Guimaras.
An 18-MW hydropower plant is now also being constructed in Madalag, Aklan. Another wind power project is also eyed in Nabas town.
Republic Act 9513 otherwise known as Renewable Energy Act of 2008 is highlighting the promotion of development, utilization, and commercialization of renewable energy in the Philippines.
Renewable energy is also eyed as a vital and sustainable solution to addressing the challenges of climate change, energy security, and access to energy. (Karen V. Bermejo/PNA)