Spanish wind companies throw lifeline to ailing shipbuilding firm Izar

Several Spanish wind companies have thrown a lifeline to ailing state-owned shipbuilding firm Izar by offering to contract its services for building both onshore and offshore wind plants. The new socialist government is under enormous pressure to save the Izar shipyards, which have lost orders to Asian competitors, threatening redundancy for many of the 10,700 employees. At the same time, the government has made renewables a major pillar of its energy policy, including kick starting offshore wind development. Utility Iberdrola, part owner of Gamesa, says Gamesa Eólica "would view favourably" the use of Izar to make turbine towers, according to Iberdrola CEO, Ignacio Sánchez Galán. At the same time, German project developer Umweltkontor says it will use Izar shipbuilders for some of the civil engineering work and components for its 250 MW offshore project for Cape Trafalgar, off Andalucia's Atlantic coast. Umweltkontor has earmarked Bonus 2.3 MW turbines for the project. Izar has long since produced Bonus turbines through a technology transfer agreement, but no Bonus units are currently being installed in Spain. Meanwhile, Andrés Sánchez, general secretary of the sustainable development department of Andalucia's regional government, has called on the central government to fast-track offshore development proposed off Cape Trafalgar (Windpower Monthly, April 2002) which would provide work for three Izar shipyards in the region.