The Spanish government has announced a support packet for the domestic wind industry and the wind market. Details have not yet been revealed but are being anxiously awaited by Spanish industry which sees itself at a disadvantage on the home market compared with competitors from America and northern Europe.

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In line with its growing commitment to wind power, the Spanish government is poised to pass legislation which would pave the way for increasing financial support of the domestic industry and the wind market. The new law was announced earlier this year by the director of energy, Maria Luisa Huidobro, but the details remain unknown. The aim, however, is to streamline the flow of government cash for research and development of new technology by national companies.

According to industry sources, the financial package will be modelled on existing versions overseas "similar to the British system," says Emilio Menendéz of utility Endesa. Other sources say a hike in the price paid for electricity from wind energy -- currently running at ESP 3.0/kWh over normal purchase rates -- might also be on the cards. "But we have had no hint of how the legislation is to be implemented or who exactly will benefit," says Menendéz who echoed the frustration of the industry in general: "We are all still very much in the dark." José Verdugo, speaking for the Ministry of Industry and Energy, says several pieces of legislation are being prepared by Huidobro's department, bu news would not be forthcoming until mid-September.

Better deals for national companies have long been sought by the industry in Spain, especially by small, private companies like Ecotècnia, a veteran wind power company with turbines at Tarifa and a new 500 kW model on the drawing board. "Unless more support is made available we'll be left way behind the Americans and the northern Europeans -- just edged out of the market in under a decade," says a bitter industry member. "Foreign competitors have access to soft loans in their countries of origin, more technological support from their governments and greater access to export deals with developing nations. They stand to undermine the nascent Spanish industry both at home and abroad."

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