Analysis: Macquarie's Marena project on the brink

MEXICO: The Huave indigenous community in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca is claiming victory over a multinational consortium headed by Australian investment bank Macquarie and its plans to build the 396MW Mareñas wind development in San Dionisio del Mar.

Members of the Huave community have blocked the wind farm's progress
Members of the Huave community have blocked the wind farm's progress

The project was planned for the Santa Teresa sandbar in San Dionisio del Mar, one of the world's windiest onshore sites.

The community claims to have received assurances that the consortium, Mareña Renovables, now plans to move the project, featuring 132 3MW wind turbines, already contracted, to other sites in the region.

Questioned by Windpower Monthly, Macquarie — the public voice of the consortium — did not refute those claims, merely declining to comment. The other two stakeholders, each roughly with a one-third share, are Japan's Mitsubishi and Dutch pension fund PGGM, which did not respond to inquiries.

What is certain is that turbine installation remains on hold. In January 2012, the fishing community occupied the town hall and forced the local mayor to destroy the contract signed with the project's initial developer — Spain's Preneal, which later sold out. Since then, the Huave people, or Ikoots as they call themselves, demanding improved land-lease and local spin-off terms, have successfully blocked access to the site.

Vestas, which landed the turbine and construction deal in March 2012, had initially scheduled installation for summer 2012. Twice, the manufacturer pushed the deadline back; first to November last year, then, in December, to the end of February 2014. Vestas referred all queries to Macquarie.

It looks "increasingly likely it [the project] will not go forward," said Matt DaPrato, Latin American specialist at renewables consultants IHS Emerging Energy Research. He blames the deadlock on the Mexican wind rush in the early 2000s.

Brian Gaylord, an analyst at Make Consulting, said that an Ikoot victory in San Dionisio could only "spur on indigenous opposition to wind multinationals elsewhere in Oaxaca." The region has some of the world's best windresources. Among massive projects facing such opposition are the 1GW Sureste complex, involving a number of big developers, including state power company CFE and Spain's Gas Natural. Both consultants see the current wind development upsurge in states outside Oaxaca as a direct result of such conflicts.

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