Industry looks set to smash official targets -- Portugal maintains momentum

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Portugal was Europe's third largest wind market for the second year running, with 692 MW installed in 2006, an annual record. By the end of the year its online capacity stood at 1716.5 MW, up 68% on the 1024 MW installed by the end of 2005, according to Porto University's Instituto de Engenharia Mecánica e Gestão Industrial (INEGI). Wind now accounts for 14.2% of national generating capacity.

With over 1000 MW of new plant building and several thousand megawatts more in the pipeline, wind is set to play the key role in helping Portugal achieve its target of 45% of electricity from renewables by 2010, announced in January by prime minister Jose Socrates. The previous target was for 39%. Wind power is expected to reach more than 3750 MW by 2010. Purchase prices are running at EUR 92.8/MWh, up 3% from 2005.

The government's commitment to wind was confirmed last year when after a public tender process it awarded a contract for 1200 MW of capacity to the Eólicas de Portugal consortium, comprising Portuguese energy group EDP (40%), Spain's Endesa (30%), Portuguese wind farm developer Generg (20%) and Portuguese industrial conglomerate Sonae (10%). The 1200 MW will be split across 48 wind farms, each around 20-25 MW, to be developed by 2011 in the regions of Minho, Upper Beira, Lower Beira, Extremadura and the Algarve. They will produce at least 2700 GWh a year, representing 25% of Portuguese wind production during 2010-2012 and 4% of national electricity production. Seven manufacturing facilities, all producing the Enercon E-82 machine, will be built under the plan with a combined manufacturing capacity of 180 turbines a year.

A second government wind tender, this time to develop 400 MW, was subsequently issued, with the three unsuccessful bidders of the initial tender all submitting bids -- the Ventinveste consortium, headed by Galp Energia, Ventonorte, led by Italy's Enel and Spain's Unión Fenosa, and the Novas Energias Ibéricas consortium, lead by Spain's Iberdrola. The winner is to be announced soon. Meanwhile, a 20 MW tender aimed at small electricity producers is to be issued later this year.

Big one

Projects outside the recent public tender process are also progressing, the most significant being the 240 MW Alto Minho I development in the region of Vale do Minho. Comprising around 120, 2 MW turbines across five wind farms -- at Picos, Alto do Corisco, Santo António, Mendoiro-Bustavade and Picoto-S. Silvestre -- the project is being developed by the VentoMinho company, 85% controlled by Empreendimentos Eólicos do Vale do Minho and 15% by the town councils of Paredes de Coura, Valença, Monção and Melgaço. They describe the wind project as "the biggest in Europe" and, with construction work now underway, hope full commissioning can be completed in 2008. When operational, the EUR 343 million development is forecast to produce 667 GWh a year.

Meanwhile, EDP, Portugal's national utility, has announced plans to treble its installed wind capacity in Europe, mainly on the Iberian Peninsula and in France and Belgium, by 2010. Of EUR 2,630 million it has budgeted for the plan, EUR 290 million is earmarked for Portugal. Specifically, it hopes see a 66% capacity increase in Spain, 22% in Portugal and 12% in other markets to take its global wind capacity from 1568 MW in 2006 to 4200 MW in 2010.

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