Small-scale wind farms to future-proof PHL economy

Thursday 21 July 2016

A Filipino researcher is developing a tool to aid in decision-making for the placement of small-scale wind turbines in cities across the Philippines to meet the country’s growing energy demand.  

Sherdon Niño Uy from Cauayan, Isabela – and affiliated with the Manila Observatory – has secured a prestigious PhD scholarship at the Birmingham City University to undertake this research as part of a PhD in Engineering, co-funded by the Department of Science and Technology under the Newton-Agham Ph.D. scholarships Programme.

At present, energy demand in the Philippines is not being met adequately. Rotating brownouts – where electrical power is reduced or restricted in a particular area – have been a common occurrence, especially in southern parts of the country. 

Earlier this month, a 12-hour brownout hit Siargao Island due to the installation of new relay posts and servicing of equipment.

Meanwhile, in April this year, the Luzon grid was placed on ‘red alert’ when peak demand reached an all-time high of 9,746 megawatts. It is thought that dwindling energy reserves and a spike in demand due to the summer heat may lead to rotating brownouts around the capital area. 

Renewable energy – such as wind power – can address the growing demand for electricity, which is needed to ensure future economic development for the Philippines. Wind power can also avert the use of power barges, which are both costly and unsustainable.

However, wind energy as a power source must be implemented with small-scale wind turbines at strategic locations within a metropolis, where wind resource is at its strongest, yet space is limited. Nino’s research aims to develop a decision support system for wind resource assessment that is useful for cities, such as Manila, in order to aid in decision-making for the placement of small-scale wind turbines within an urban area.

Sherdon Niño Uy said: 

“My research will have clear implications for the economy of the Philippines, as it will highlight the need for more reliable, sustainable, clean and cheaper energy generated at the source of fuel. As well as attracting investment and creating new jobs to build and maintain, small-scale wind farms will reduce the problem of brownouts, fuelling the future economic development of the Philippines, as well as similar developing countries in Southeast Asia”.

“The multicultural and research-oriented study plan of the UK is conducive for a PhD programme. Exposure to such an environment with various backgrounds will enrich me as a person and make me become aware of the broader world. Since the focus is on research, I will develop practical skills and craft research studies that are useful to society. Thus, I will be trained to solve real-world problems.

“People are really friendly, helpful and accommodating at Birmingham City University, so it was easy for me to adjust to the way of life in the UK. They helped me settle down quickly in a new place and arranged activities for me to meet fellow students. 

“My supervisors, colleagues and administrators at Birmingham City University are always ready to offer any help that I might need, whether in academic or personal matters. I made new friends in the first few months I have been studying here and I look forward to many more great experiences that will come during my stay here.”

The Newton Fund is providing £3 million yearly from 2016, including PhD scholarships which the DOST will match with a total of over Php90 million, to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and social welfare of the Philippines.

Professor Craig Chapman welcomed Niño as the latest addition to a growing international PhD student community studying at Birmingham City University’s Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) Lab and said:

“Nino is a welcome member of our Lab and is already showing great promise, full of energetic curiosity and sharp intellect. The Newton Agham Programme has brought two countries together in the pursuit of developing research with the potential to impact the field of study.

“At Birmingham City University we aim to expose our PhD students to the latest International methodologies. Already in March this year, Niño participated in Europe’s first workshop on model-based systems engineering with Object Process Methodology (OPM) and applications to knowledge-based engineering and design automation. 

“The workshop was held at Birmingham City University and Niño got the chance to work with the KBE Lab’s industrial partners, Rolls-Royce, as well as academic partners from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.”


Notes to Editor

About the Department of Science and Technology

The Department of Science and Technology provide central direction, leadership and coordination of scientific and technological efforts and ensure that the results therefrom are geared and utilized in areas of maximum economic and social benefits for the people.