Spain moves forward with offshore test site

SPAIN: Spain's first scheduled offshore project has expanded its planned capacity by 25MW to 70MW and brought on board a number of heavyweight companies including Gamesa, Iberdrola and Siemens.

The Zèfir Test Station project, a deep water test and certification site, located off the Port of Tarragona, Catalonia is designed in two phases. The aim is to bring the first 20MW online by 2012.

Zèfir will be stationed 3.5km offshore using shallow water seabed foundations. A second 50MW phase aims at installing innovative floating turbines at 30km offshore in depths up to 100m.

Zèfir’s owner-developer, the Catalonian Institute of Energy Research (IREC in its Catalan acronym), has recently signed a broad agreement with industry majors, including turbine manufacturers Gamesa, Acciona and Siemens.

The company has also brought onboard developers Iberdrola, Enel, Endesa and EDP. IREC  said the agreement commits those heavyweights to "establishing a common framework for collaboration on development and construction".

More recently, IREC has signed specific and separate contracts for wind resource evaluations across the entire site with national gas and power major Gas Natural and local wind engineering firm Vortex.

As an R&D project, the development is not restricted by stringent permitting procedures, which will keep the first of Spain’s numerous commercial offshore projects from becoming a reality until at least 2014.

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