With six wind plant totalling 145 MW now authorised, and one 24.42 MW plant fully installed and awaiting connection, the regional government of Asturias has clamped an official two-year freeze on further wind development applications. The moratorium, announced in a regional government bulletin last month, states: "As applications now exceed the total installed capacity initially envisaged, it has now become vital to carry out a detailed analysis of the sector and the projects currently being processed." There are now 50 applications to develop over 1000 MW according to Javier Mendez, head of the regional energy department. Although Mendez admits there is "some confusion" regarding exactly how much installed wind capacity the regional grid can absorb, the figure reiterated loud and clear during last year's regional wind conference was 120 MW (Windpower Monthly, March 2000). While the regional government stated at the conference that it hoped grid improvements would eventually enable the connection of a total of 300 MW, the most optimistic forecasts did not envisage this happening until the end of 2002. The government says it needs breathing space "to accurately evaluate environmental impact and define the necessary grid improvement requirements." It also aims "to resolve competing applications for the same sites and assess industrial and investment plans."
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