Recent public statements from central government offices are suddenly referring to big increases in Spain's installed wind capacity objectives. The parliamentary industry commission recently gave the nod to a call for a 40 GW objective by 2010 -- double the existing official objective and around three times the 13.3 GW currently online. Just days later, state energy secretary Ignasi Nieto stressed the need to keep up the current pace to reach 35 GW by 2020. Nieto's target is less ambitious than the commission's target, but it marks a huge leap of faith. Earlier this year he tried to severely reduce payments made to wind generation (Windpower Monthly, January 2007). Alberto Ceña from the Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE), the national wind industry group, welcomes the recent signals from Madrid. "Nieto's statements are spurred by the 20% renewables objective approved by the EU's spring summit. The commission call is simply the sum of wind targets from numerous regional governments," he explains. "How these statements shape up into hard policy remains to be seen. And that policy will be vital for overcoming the technical restrictions -- perceived or real -- to wind penetration beyond 2010." The government's current 20.2 GW objective for 2010 is actually a cap based on the maximum wind power capacity considered technically viable by the electricity system operator. To raise the cap, Ceña says the operator demands improved interconnection with France and new pumped hydro storage capacity. "Hugely complex issues, politically and environmentally, but at least the political will to solve them is mounting," says Ceña.
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