Port support paramount for successful wind projects - Lotilla

At a glance

  • The important role of port support for offshore wind operations and maintenance, it’s something that we have to look into if we have to roll out our own offshore wind - that the support infrastructure for ports will have to be there.

ESBJERG, Denmark – The re-purposing of the country’s major ports will be very crucial for a successful larges-scale offshore wind farm projects in the country, according to Energy Secretary Raphael P. M. Lotilla.

In a visit of the Philippine delegation to the facilities of the Blue Water Shipping at the Port of Esbjerg, the energy chief said that one key learning the country must heed is to ensure port support, as among the major infrastructure facilities that shall underpin logistics and transport requirements of the humongous machineries and equipment for offshore wind farm ventures being advanced for development in various parts of the country.

"The important role of port support for offshore wind operations and maintenance, it’s something that we have to look into if we have to roll out our own offshore wind - that the support infrastructure for ports will have to be there,” said Lotilla.

As the Philippines cannot have the huge capacity similar to the Port of Esbjerg has, he stated that “we are considering different models, not necessarily one…initially if we are going to start ours – then it may be possible to identify certain major ports that would serve such primarily function.”

If it is any consolation, executives of Blue Water Shipping conveyed that apart from what they have in Europe, most, if not all ports in the world, are not really ready to cater to the needs of the offshore wind industry, placing the Philippines in similar situation to its counterpart energy-markets, including those in Asia.

The deep-water port of Esbjerg is touted as a key hub for wind industry in Europe; and it similarly caters to the logistics and shipping needs for equipment and components of wind farm projects in various parts of the world.

Esbjerg port offers range of services and facilities primarily for the offshore wind industry – and its facilities include dedicated quayside for the loading and unloading of wind turbine components and machineries; as well as specialized heavy-lift crane for the installation of offshore wind turbines.

On top of that, the Port of Esbjerg provides other support services – including supply chain management; vessel support; warehousing and storage solutions - not just for the wind industry or the oil and gas sector; but also for the military equipment being shipped by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its support to Ukraine on the war with Russia.

Lotilla emphasized that the business model of the Port of Esbjerg is one of a private-owned facility sited in a municipality. In the case of the Philippines, what could be studied is to possibly have a national approach on the re-purposing of the ports to serve the needs of the nascent offshore wind industry in the country.

Depending on preferred installations of the offshore wind project developers – whether fixed offshore wind or floating offshore, he highlighted that the country will “have to take a different approach when it comes to the kind of projects that will be undertaken with particular specifications.”

Lotilla expounded “if some of our initial forays will be into fixed offshore wind – the port requirement will be different from offshore floating; but both are offshore and yet the port requirements are different,” adding that the timeline for the port support shall likewise be determined by the type of projects that the developer-firms will be pursuing.

“We have to talk to the Danish proponents what their plans are , will it just be purely offshore; a combination of offshore floating or offshore fixed, because that will determine the timelines,” he stressed.

The energy chief added “after the ports have shown us their role especially in offshore wind, the other of course is getting that into the planning -- integrating that into the port system of the Philippines.”

He further noted “in our case, we have to look at our ports not for a single purpose, but for multiplicity of purposes. So even the smaller ports will have to think about fishing needs of the local communities; and so on, because it’s a case where we want to help generally economic activities for the local communities and the introduction of offshore wind is one way of providing that.”