New hotbed of activity in Spain -- Rights to sites for 700 MW granted in Castilla la Mancha

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Exclusive rights to sites with a wind power potential of 700 MW in the Spanish region of Castilla la Mancha have been granted to 17 project developers. Each may conduct feasibility studies for up to several sites and many projects are expected to begin building by next summer. The 17 strategic development permits look set to usher in large scale local manufacture of European and American technology, which has so far struggled to find a foothold in the Spanish market.

The region has currently 150 MW of wind plant on-line and another 324 MW going up or in the final approval process. All of this has been developed by EEE -- an affiliate of Spain's largest wind developer, EHN, and utility Iberdrola -- while the junta, or regional government, has issued a stop to further development until it has an overview of how it wants to proceed. The developers given the go-ahead include Spain's Iberdrola SAU, Gamesa, Sinae, UFEE, EEE and Desarrollos Energias Renovables, as well as wind turbine companies NEG Micon and Enron Wind.

Total direct investment will be around ESP 3 billion (EUR 18 million) by 2005, according to José María Barreda of the junta, making Castilla la Mancha one of the country's main wind power regions. A decision on another 21 strategic development permits is expected within the next few months.

The 17 permits so far allocate specific zones to developers who must complete a detailed environmental impact study and wind measurements over a full year. Developers must also commit to a specific level of investment in the region and their chosen sites must be deemed good enough to allow them to live up to these commitments. The first research documents must be presented to the regional government for approval by summer 2001.

Although Barreda is unwilling to be pinned down on the capacity that could result if all the strategic plans were realised, he says the 400 MW target set for the region by the Spanish renewables agency IDAE would be tripled. Most developers are keeping quiet, but NEG Micon said last year that its plan had nearly 700 MW. MADE, the renewables arm of utility Endesa, is said to have 100 or so sites.

Outdoing each other

That Castilla la Mancha is a hot bed of activity is not in doubt. American Enron Wind set up its own turbine manufacturing plant in the region earlier this year and can turn out 700 MW annually. More recently, the renewables arm of Spanish utility Hidrocantábrico has claimed that by 2004 it will have 612 MW installed in Castilla la Mancha, spread over 20 sites and generating about 1400 GWh a year. Sinae says its plan will create 570 jobs and will require an investment of about ESP 91.8 million. Sinae has mainly used Gamesa 660 kW technology, but in Castilla la Mancha, it plans to use Nordex turbines between 800 kW and 1.3 MW, to be assembled in the German/Danish manufacturer's own facility in the region.

Another developer that has spoken publicly about its plans is Elecdey Castilla la Mancha, which has rights to 13 of the 20 sites it applied for. The company is a joint venture between Elecdey and Urbaser, the special projects arm of Spanish construction company Dragados. The company is considering machines from Spain's MADE or Gamesa, Enron, NEG Micon of Denmark or German DeWind.

Elecdey has also been granted regional government approval for a 50 MW plant it is developing in the province of Albacete. Castilla la Mancha only requires strategic industrial "umbrella" plans from developers with more than one plant in the region.

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