A rare success in Catalonia -- Consent for another 25 MW

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The installation of 12.6 MW of wind plant is underway in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia in the province of Tarragona, with a successful public relations campaign reportedly helping it to succeed where dozens of other projects are caught in an environmental impact debate. The project, Colladetes II, is an extension of the existing 24.75 MW Les Colladetes I, which came on-line in May 1999.

Construction of a sister plant, Les Calobres, is expected to begin this summer, adding another 12.75 MW of nominal installed capacity. Both Colladetes I, with a total investment of ESP 3875 million (EUR 23.3 million), and Colladetes II, with an estimated overall cost of about ESP 1900 million (EUR 11.4 million), belong to Enervent, a special purpose company set up by renewable energy developer Generaci—n de Energ’a (GdE), to develop and operate the two plant.

Despite vociferous opposition from environmentalists and conservationists to Catalonian wind development policy (Windpower Monthly, January 2000), Enervent's Joan Fages claims that Colladetes has escaped such polemic and that it has been widely welcomed locally. "We try our best to do things well," he says. Fages is also president of the European Renewable Energy Federation.

Colladetes I features a visitor and exhibition centre and receives parties of school children, college students, pensioners and other collectives -- a practice that is picking up in Spain in general. Here, visitors learn how concerns to protect an eagle's nest in the vicinity of the plant brought about the renewed micrositing of eight of the turbines. Similarly, the use of explosives and heavy earth moving operations on Colladetes II was scheduled for December and January in order to reduce the possible impact on the eagles.

The Colladetes I and II and Les Calobres developments are all within the municipality of Perell— and are sited above the Mediterranean Sea at a height of between 300-450 metres. The experience of Colladetes I has confirmed nominal wind yields from the prevailing north-westerly wind of some 2600 hours annually. This translates to 74 GWh a year from 36, 660 kW Gamesa G-47 turbines, based on Vestas 660 kW turbine technology. At Colladetes II, 18 units of the G-47 are being installed to produce an expected 33.6 GWh. The technology for Les Calobres has not yet been decided.

Regional wait

Les Colladetes I is one of only two wind plant to have gone up since the regional government approved its regulatory plan for wind development; the other project is the 30 MW Trucafort plant, also in Tarragona (Windpower Monthly, November 1999). From more than 100 other applications to install thousands of megawatt in Catalonia, only Les Colladetes II and Les Calobres have received the final go-ahead. GdE is waiting for authorisation for a further 75 MW.

GdE owes its existence to Hidrowatt, formed in 1981, which specialises in small hydroelectric and biomass plant and other environmentally related projects. The same partners behind Hidrowatt formed GdE in 1988 to develop and operate renewable energies. The company has entered the Catalonian wind sector by searching out financing partners to back its developments. GdE owns 30% of Enervent and its financial partners are: BancSabadell (17%), Caixa Catalunya savings bank (17%), Caixa Manresa savings bank (9%) and Union Interiores (17%). The regional government's institute of energy owns 10% of the company.

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