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Gamesa boss pleads with Spanish government

SPAIN: Gamesa chairman Ignacio Martin has called on the Spanish government to rethink its hostile stance on renewable energy.

Spanish minister for industry, energy and tourism Jose Manuel Soria with Gamesa chairman Ignacio Martin (left)
Spanish minister for industry, energy and tourism Jose Manuel Soria with Gamesa chairman Ignacio Martin (left)

Speaking at the inauguration of the country's first offshore turbine, Martin said: "Let's not kill this sector. If there must be a moratorium in subsidies in our country we must not make it impossible for the technology to be designed in our country.

"We have to look at offshore too. We must, but our country doesn't seem to be interested. Gamesa is a Spanish company - 100% of our sales base is outside Spain but we employ 3,000 people here."

The Spanish minister for industry, energy and tourism Jose Manuel Soria, who attended the inauguration, replied that the need to reduce the country's deficit and the high cost of renewable energy meant a change in policy was not possible.

The first G128-5MW turbine was installed in Arinaga Quay on Grand Canaria and marks Gamesa's first move into the offshore wind sector.

Since it started operating in July, the turbine has sent more than 1GWh to the grid, said Gamesa. The facility's start-up is a prerequisite for the securing of certification, slated for the first quarter of 2014.

The company also revealed that it is planning to develop a 7-8MW turbine, with a prototype expected in 2017. The machine would rival Samsung's 7MW and Vestas' 8MW turbines, both of which are in development.

Spain's once booming wind industry has all but ground to a halt since the government's indefinite moratorium on new renewables construction came into effect on 1 January.

There is little indication from the government that it has any intention of lifting the freeze or that it will replace the expired price support mechanism.

The Spanish wind association AEE claims that more than 14,000 jobs have been lost since the industry's peak in 2009 when 40,000 were employed in the sector.

Even existing wind farms are having a hard run of it, with the government slapping a 7% tax on all electricity generation income. AEE believes this is costing operators an extra EUR 300 million a year.

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