Eager public behind a rapid build-up

ROMANIA: Romania's wind energy market is emerging in a big way, with cumulative installed capacity rising to more than 500MW this year from just 14MW at the end of 2009.

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The 348MW Fantanele wind farm being constructed by Czech utility CEZ will be fully operational in the autumn, getting Romania a long way towards that 500MW threshold.

Romania's wind development is driven by the country's 2020 EU renewable energy obligations and by an attractive incentive scheme for wind, centred on green certificates.

Romania's binding target for 2020 sees the country supplying 24% of all energy consumption with renewable energy by 2020, up from 17.8% in 2005. As it strives towards that target, the government forecasts that 4GW in wind farms could be installed by 2020. The Romanian Wind Energy Association believes even 5GW is possible.

As the poorest country in the EU, Romania not surprisingly also sees wind energy as an important source of money for cash-strapped municipalities. Legislation enacted earlier this year empowers municipalities to issue building permits for wind farms, allowing them to directly collect taxes on those permits and easing local financing constraints. Previously, responsibility for issuing the building licence lay with Romania's counties.

"Where we are active, in the south-east of the country and the Black Sea coast, funds are not available for roads, kindergartens, etcetera, and mayors are looking for additional funding sources," explains Christoph Kapp, president of developer Eolica Dobrogea, which has some 1.6GW of wind projects under construction or development across the country in partnership with Spanish wind giant Iberdrola.

Development of wind power could also alleviate the frequent blackouts that Romania suffers. Kapp notes that the grid needs to be strengthened in some regions as more wind farms come online. "That could help ensure a more stable supply of electricity," he says.

Wind farms are welcomed by Romania's population, partly because of the positive effect on rural development, according to Cristian Tantareanu, director of renewable energy promotion agency Enero. Only time will tell if that will continue.

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