Winds of change: why Papua New Guinea is perfectly placed for a wind-power revolution

Welcome,

Papua New Guinea is sitting on a world-class wind power resource that could see it exporting power to the region in a relatively short space of time.

Windmills in Galicia’s Cape Orteal. Credit: Makunin/Pixabay

Talking at Business Advantage PNG Investment Conference, Sean Whittaker, Principal Renewables Specialist with the International Finance Corporation, said that PNG would be well placed to start the journey to renewable energy.

‘You have a world class resource,’ Whittaker said. ‘We did an exercise recently where we did some mapping of the offshore wind resource for countries around the world and PNG comes out very strong.’

To qualify as world class you need a wind speed between 1–10 metres per second, according to the Global Wind Atlas – and PNG has areas above that wind speed.

‘PNG’s offshore wind resource is an amazing attribute,’ says Whittaker. ‘You have many locations with wind speeds over 10 metres per second, and the best wind farms that are offshore in Europe at the moment are in these 10 metre-per-second winds, so you have a tremendous resource there.’

‘Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of new power generation. Period. We see onshore wind projects being financed with a cost of electricity of anywhere between three to six cents per kilowatt hour and that is often the cheapest form of new generation that you can get.’

He outlined the other key factors that makes PNG a good candidate for wind power, including:

Story continues after advertisment...
  • having a strong resource close to the demand
  • the fact wind power can be built within two years so you have a fast response to growing power demand
  • it is a cost-competitive way to generate new power
  • it is a reliable power source that is complementary to solar and hydro output
  • It helps a country meet its climate targets

‘Looking at the onshore resource, you have a good onshore resource around Port Moresby, just to the east; but it is also spread out in other parts around the country particularly in the coastal areas,’ he says.

Powering the future

IFC’s Sean Whittaker.

Whittaker says that wind power is growing in popularity around the world due in part to the fact it is becoming more affordable.

The industry is divided into ‘onshore’ wind projects that are situated on land and ‘offshore’ projects that position the wind turbines out at sea.

Offshore is by far the best option for catching the wind, but is currently far more expensive that the onshore alternative.

‘The reason that wind power is growing is simple – it is just getting cheap,’ Whittaker says. ‘Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of new power generation. Period. We see onshore wind projects being financed with a cost of electricity of anywhere between three to six cents per kilowatt hour and that is often the cheapest form of new generation that you can get.’

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a big investor in wind power. It currently has a US$1 billion portfolio in countries including Pakistan, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Egypt, with a total capacity of 4.5 gigawatts. There are new technologies that are making offshore projects more viable such as the floating offshore system that tethers the turbines 60 metres deep into the ocean floor.

Whittaker believes that PNG should seriously consider wind as a power alternative.

‘Most of the projects we have financed have been the first [wind power] projects in these countries,’ he says. ‘We finance the first project in the country to make it bankable to attract finance and then, once the market is up and running and is “de-risked”, then commercial banks step in and they take over that development.’

Whittaker cautions that any wind power project must be bankable with strong regulatory framework, good technology, efficient procurement and good, transparent contracting.

‘The basic thing here is the need for a roadmap to look at all the links in the chain that would need to be in place for offshore wind to grow and to prosper in PNG,’ he says.

Missed the 2021 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference? Gain access to all the exclusive presentations, slides and videos from the conference with an on-demand ticket.

Comments

  1. Andy Papaso says

    Interested. Require more information.
    Include all costs including landing cost.
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply