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Spain

Utility aggregates Spanish wind output -- Centralised control

Spanish utility Iberdrola is calling its new renewables operations centre "unique in the world" and "a major step towards improved wind integration." Located in the province of Toledo, the Centro de Operación de Energías Renovables (CORE) is intended to replace the wind farm control systems offered by wind turbine manufactures. "CORE offers operators a neutral service," says Iberdrola's Angeles Santamaria. She also claims CORE will enable Iberdrola to trade wind on electricity markets in competition with dispatchable forms of generation.

The EUR 4 million complex kicked in last month, aggregating remote operation and control of 30 renewable energy plant totalling 875 MW -- mostly from wind -- operated by Iberdrola across Spain. Within the coming months, a further 1000 MW of Iberdrola's renewables capacity, plus plant from third party renewables operators at home and abroad, are expected to come under the CORE umbrella.

Iberdrola claims CORE will "enable exhaustive analysis of renewable energy plants across Spain," and will "easily adapt to future integration regulation demands regarding reactive power, voltage control and production forecasting." Santamaria adds that CORE will facilitate centralised management of grid points dealing with large concentrations of wind capacity, improving the industry's response to grid anomalies.

CORE operations coincide with a government draft proposal offering incentives to operators for scheduling production on the electricity pool (Windpower Monthly, January 2004). "In the case of eventual market trading, CORE, as a centralised production control centre, will be an indispensable and unrivalled tool for wind operators," says Santamaria.

Aggregation

For wind to compete on the pool, aggregating production is increasingly seen as a necessary first step. If one operator fails to generation enough power to meet scheduled production and another one exceeds it, each will be punished financially by the market if scheduling is managed separately. "But by aggregating scheduling, the imbalances will smooth out," explains Ramón Fiestas of wind association Plataforma Eólica Empresarial (PEE), whose largest member is Iberdrola.

Spain's renewables association, Asociación de Productores de Energías Renovables (APPA), suspects that Iberdrola's support of the Spanish government's plan for wind to be traded on the electricity pool is due to its head start with CORE.

Iberdrola boss, Ignacio Galán, says CORE's detailed data collation from widely dispersed wind plant -- initially covering the regions of Castile-La Mancha, Castile and León, Galicia and Murcia -- will enable the utility "to research wind behaviour throughout these areas" and "forecast each plant's production, thus facilitating system management."

Integration aside, Santamaria claims CORE is profitable simply through improved efficiency in the operation and maintenance of Iberdrola's renewables plant. "Twenty-four-hour remote, real-time monitoring and control enables instant detection of turbine and substation faults and anomalies." CORE receives and processes detailed data over a wide range of operational variables of each machine. Iberdrola says this speeds up service response and improves plant availability.

CORE has no third party customers yet, though during its first month of operation Santamaria claims that project developers have shown great interest in the system. Iberdrola's aim is to own 4000 MW of renewables generation by 2006, mainly wind, all run by CORE.

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