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Wind driven deals for carbon credits

Wind power projects in China, Hungary and Estonia, with a combined capacity of 419 MW, have been signed up by the Austrian government to contribute carbon emission reduction credits to help it meet its climate change commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. While one project in China is already operating, the others are all under construction, says Kommunalkredit Public Consulting (KPC), which manages the carbon emission reduction program on behalf of the Austrian environment ministry.

For the project developers involved, the deals are significant in making projects financially viable. The current price paid to them for carbon credits agreed under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) programs is EUR 8-12 per tonne of carbon saved.

The operational project is the 49.3 MW Shuangliao Wind Farm in Taonan, Jilin Province, China consisting of 58 Gamesa 850 kW turbines. The project is a joint development by Australian renewable energy developer Roaring 40s and Chinese energy company Datang. It was officially registered as a CDM project in December 2006 and Austria is buying some 612,000 tonnes of carbon credits from it. The government has also committed to buying 3.7 million tonnes of carbon reduction credits from CDM wind projects being developed by Longyuan Electric Power Group, China's leading domestic wind developer. This deal relates to six wind farms spread across four Chinese provinces with a combined capacity of 306 MW. Two of the projects are as big as 100 MW.

In Hungary, Austria is to buy 408,000 tonnes of emissions rights from the Panonia Ring wind farm, a JI project at Ostffyassonyfa. An Enercon 600 kW unit is already operating at the site, but plans to add 24 Vestas 2 MW turbines and a single Vestas 850 kW unit are on hold. Hungary's latest wind energy policy has capped the wind market at 330 MW. Meantime, the government is set to buy 267,000 tonnes of emission credits from two JI projects in Estonia with a combined capacity of 14 MW.

To meet its Kyoto obligation, Austria plans to secure agreements totalling around 35 million tonnes of carbon emission reductions. So far it has reached 23 million tonnes. These will come from 31 projects. The latest wind developments together contribute five million tonnes of carbon reduction credits to its portfolio. The country's fourth call for project proposals under its JI/CDM program is due to close on April 5, but a further call is expected sometime in the next year. "It is difficult to say whether any one project will be successful and whether completed projects will actually perform as anticipated," says KPC's Alexandra Amerstorfer. "We haven't reached the stage where we have enough projects."

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