Iberdrola purchases 55% of wind plant developer

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Utility Iberdrola's purchase of 55% of wind plant developer Generación Eólica de Andalucia (GEAN) and negotiations by gas giant Gas Natural to buy wind plant shares held by Banco Sabadell mark the further consolidation of Spanish wind power into the hands of the country's utilities. GEAN holds licenses to build three wind stations totalling 87 MW in the Andalucian province of Málaga and has a further 100 MW in the pipeline. Banco Sabadell, a Catalonia-based bank owns stakes of varying size -- between 20%-60% -- in 100 MW of operational wind plant and 100 MW of projects in development. Gas Natural recently entered Spain's electricity market -- mainly on the wave of new combined-cycle gas plant development. It aims to corner 10% of power sales by 2008, with 350 MW to come from wind by that year. The Sabadell deal came after Gas Natural lost out to British investment company Bridgepoint in a bid to buy 24% of major wind developer Corporación Eólica (CESA). Gas Natural president, Antoni Brufau, says entering the wind business is "neither a worry nor an obsession." He puts the emphasis on "reasonable returns" on investment rather than on a mad dash to become a major wind player.

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