Spanish floating project at a standstill

SPAIN: The 20MW Zefir Offshore Test Centre Phase I -- set to become Spain's first offshore wind plant in 2014 -- has come to a standstill due to Spain's renewables freeze.

The Zefir site would have used Alstom's 6MW Haliade turbine

The floating project in in Tarragona province, with 6MW, 5MW and 3MW turbines already contracted with Alstom, Gamesa and Acciona, respectively, is at "dead point," project leader Ramon Garriga told Windpower Monthly. Garriga is director of the semi public Catalonian Research Institute (IREC), the project developer.

Renewed development "depends on policy changes" from the central government in order "to make it attractive again for the companies involved", said Garriga.

Locally, grid connection and environmental licenses are in place for the 20MW first phase, using shallow water seabed foundations. A 50MW deep-water second phase, also on hold, plans floating turbines.

But since the conservative PP party was returned to office in the November 2011 general election, it has indefinitely frozen price support for any new renewables capacity. IREC blames that policy for Brussels finally dropping Zèfir from its shortlist for a EUR30 million funding, through the EU's NER300 programme.

The project is a deep water test and certification site located off the Port of Tarragona. At the time of the project's announcement in 2011, IREC said the agreement with the three manufacturers covered all the positions planned for the project's first phase. It aimed to install a maximum of four turbines on fixed seabed foundations at up to 3.5 km off the coast by end-2012.

It also covers 75% of the second phase, which plans eight subsequent floating turbines totalling up to 50MW at 30km off the coast.

Gamesa had confirmed it "aspires" to occupy two fixed positions in the first phase and another two floating positions in the second. As early as May last year, Acciona affirmed its commitment to Zefir.

However, Alstom is currently contracted to launch a floating trial using the Haliade, with the UK-based ETI consortium.