Fenosa leads bids for EUR6bn Galician expansion project

SPAIN: Fenosa Wind is leading a EUR6 billion wind power project auction in the Spanish north-western region of Galicia, billed as one of the most significant to launch in the recession-hit country in many years.

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The Madrid-based company has offered to install up to 1.27GW of the 2.32GW the Junta de Galicia - the regional government - has offered in the tender, which attracted 19 Spanish and five foreign players, to install wind plants in the windy region. The offer comes despite the government's 350MW cap on bids.

Notable foreign offers include those presented by Luxembourg-based Capital Energy, Portugal's EDP, Terra do Vento, Enel and Holland's Element Power Holdings, which at 459MW, presented the highest commitment of the non-Spanish promoters, the junta says.

Apart from Fenosa, Banco Pastor and E.on teamed up to offer 585MW, while Iberdrola - the world's largest renewables operator - stipulated 460MW, leading the Spanish bids.

Further down the line, Galician business mogul Manuel Jove has partnered with building giant Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas' renewables unit, Sigenera, to vie for a slice of the project which has also attracted bids from savings banks Caixanova, Caixa Galicia and Caixa Rural, the Junta says. Endesa and Gamesa are also understood to have presented smaller undisclosed offers.

The government hailed the contest as a success, saying that bidders offered to install as much as 15GW.

Planning ahead

Galician economy and industry minister Javier Guerra says the junta will announce the auction's winners in November. Guerra says the move will mark the first step in Galicia's wind development project, which hopes to culminate in the installation of just under 6.5GW by 2012.

As part of the initiative, the government is also pursuing a repowering project to generate a further 840MW of generation capacity by streamlining older wind farms. It will offer incentives to those companies operating parks installed before December 31, 2001. By updating older turbines, the state hopes to significantly reduce the number of wind turbines installed in the region, improving the project's environmental profile. Overall, 41 wind farms are expected to benefit from this plan, market participants says.

According to Guerra, the region will pick the winning offers depending on how many fixed jobs they are likely to generate in low-wage areas. The project is expected to generate up to 12,000 jobs, the government says, although some opposition politicians ridicule that forecast.

Nationalist BNG political party spokesman Henrique Vieitez says the plan is like a "summer night's dream" lacking reality and cohesiveness. He also says many of the 170 firms the government says have participated in the auction were created as ghost enterprises solely for bidding purposes and did not hold Galician capital. Vieitez pointed to Banco Pastor's partnership with E.on as an example saying that, once the auction ends, E.on will end up with the largest stake in the project.

Green campaigners have also had their say, criticising the government for failing to launch an environmental impact study for the project. The government insists the project is environmentally friendly and that a key clause will forbid park development in Galicia's Rede Natura of natural forests.

Audacious bid

In its 2010-14 strategic plan announced in late July, Gas Natural Fenosa (GN-Fenosa) - which holds Fenosa Wind in partnership with building firm Copasa - says it hopes to install up to one-third of the group's renewables power-generation goals in Galicia.

A GN-Fenosa official says the company's offer for the Galician contest is of "very high quality and we hope to be taken seriously".

Given the junta's 350MW per-bidder offer limit, it certainly is audacious. The official says the junta is willing to make exceptions for outstanding strategies and that GN-Fenosa hopes its 1.27GW programme fits that category.

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