Romania - Booming market aims to treble in two years

ROMANIA: Romania's wind-energy sector is expected to post another impressive performance in 2012. According to the Romanian Wind Energy Association (RWEA), some 850MW in new capacity could be operating by the end of the year, bringing the country's total to more than 1.8GW.

RWEA figures testify to the rapid rise of wind power in Romania, from a mere 14MW in 2009 to 462MW by end-2010, rising by 520MW to 982MW last year. RWEA estimates the country could have 3GW in installed wind capacity by the end of 2013.

"The growth of Romania's wind sector is unequivocal," said Carlo Pignoloni, general manager of Enel Green Power's (EGP) Romanian business. "There are numerous projects being developed by both international and local players."

In addition to some of the best wind resources in Europe, added Pignoloni, Romania also offers an improved regulatory framework, after the government approved a decree last November that finally puts into place new incentives first unveiled in 2008. "Our interest in the market is strong," said Pignoloni, noting that EGP had 269MW in installed wind capacity in Romania at the end of 2011 and would shortly see that figure rise to 292MW.

The support system assigns wind-energy producers two green certificates for every megawatt hour of electricity produced through to 2017, when it reverts to a single green certificate. The going price for green certificates is EUR55/MWh. Certificate revenues are in addition to those from the sale of electricity, currently trading at roughly EUR49/MWh.

Elsewhere, Czech utility CEZ is set to complete the last 200MW of its 600MW Fantanele-Cogealac wind farm this year. Iberdrola, which boasts a Romanian project pipeline exceeding 1.5GW, is expected to commission its first facility, the 80MW Mihai Viteazu wind farm in spring. Romanian developer Monsson Alma, which recently began construction of the 150MW Pantelimon wind farm, is expected to complete by summer. And EDP Renovaveis is currently constructing a 57MW project, in addition to its 228MW of capacity already operating in the country.

One question hanging over the market is whether the incentive system is here to stay. The European Commission has asked the Romanian government to monitor the system to ensure it is not excessively generous and to amend it if necessary. Any new system would not go into effect before 1 January 2014 and would only affect projects coming online after that date. At least until then, the market boom looks set to continue.